Culture of Imagination

connecting spirituality to everyday life

Tag: presence

Quotes from The Communal Imagination: Finding a Way to Share Life Together

“This book covers essential territory for building healthy communities of Jesus for the long haul.”  Kelly Bean, co-founder Convergence, author of How to be a Christian Without Going to Church


  • Valuing the small things in the particulars of everyday life

“A relational call to love as the body of Christ in the parish seems small, but it’s not…  The small things are hard to value in a culture that craves anything but the small.  We think the small will make us seem nonexistent and invisible.  We want so much to be noticed that we have taken our life into our own hands and forgotten the small acts of love in the neighborhood.  When will we realize that love is the only thing that miracles are made of?  The communal imagination loves the small things in the particulars of everyday life…”

  • Becoming disillusioned with loving our ideals of community

“We always face a great tension between the ideal of what we want life to be like and the reality of life as it is.  The communal imagination is not built on a ‘wish dream’ or an illusion, but on reality.  We will struggle sometimes to figure things out relationally in the parish.  It is not always easy and we might often fail.  But we need to keep trying to learn to live with grace towards one another.  Without grace, we will build our lives on a lofty illusion of how things ought to be with little contact with reality.  What we are building will not last very long without grace.  When we love our ideals of community more than the reality of the community, we will become disillusioned and bring an oppressive agenda into it that will quickly poison everything around us.”

  • Getting down to what is right in front of us

“We need to stop trying to change or fix others.  This is the call of being present to others out of love for them.  Presence has an attentiveness to it.  We need to be present to one another as friends who care deeply and love.  We will have to let go of some control.  We will have to let go of the cliché that we can ‘change the world.’  This vision is too big, too abstract.  Let’s get down to what is right in front of us: real people in real life contexts who live in our neighborhood.  These are the people we are called to love and become faithfully present to relationally.”

  • Bringing grace into our deepest conflicts and struggles

“We cannot share life together in the parish without this gift of forgiveness and grace infusing our relationships.  We like to talk about God’s grace in terms of our own forgiveness, but when will we shift to a new paradigm of translating that grace into our deepest conflicts and struggles to love one another?  This would be a miracle indeed.”

How can we do the small things and live relationally as the body of Christ in everyday life?

Book Review- The Wisdom Way of Knowing: Reclaiming an Ancient Tradition to Awaken the Heart by Cynthia Bourgeault


Cynthia Bourgeault has written a wonderful book!  The Wisdom Way of Knowing demonstrates how the Western world has lost the experiential life of Wisdom through becoming too rationalistic, intellectual and based on creeds.  She states how this has caused us to lose focus on the Wisdom in our spirituality.  There has been a transfer of practice-based embodied Wisdom to an overemphasis of the intellectual beliefs of the mind which Cynthia draws us back to some balance in our being.

  • Midwives of the Spirit

“Working within the raw materials of the physical world, we are to give ‘birthing’ and ‘body’ to the names of God so that the invisible becomes visible.  We are midwives of the Spirit.”

  • A loss of memory about our Wisdom heritage

“One of the greatest losses in our Christian West has been the loss of memory (in fact, almost a collective amnesia) about our own Wisdom heritage…”

  • The intimacy of knowing and being known

“…the questions of the world have to hurt you before anything real can begin.  That is the other precondition of a Wisdom way of knowing: it requires the whole of one’s being and is ultimately attained only through the yielding of one’s whole being into the intimacy of knowing and being known… It doesn’t happen apart from complete vulnerability and self-giving…”

  • Wisdom goes beyond our rational understanding

Wisdom is a way of knowing that goes beyond one’s mind, one’s rational understanding, and embraces the whole of a person: mind, heart, and body…”

  • A state of presence

“…real Wisdom can be given and received only in a state of presence…”

  • The quality of our aliveness

“Each one of us, and every action we make, has a quality of aliveness to it, a fragrance or vibrancy uniquely its own.  If the outer form of who we are in this life is conveyed by our physical bodies, the inner form – our real beauty and authenticity – is conveyed in the quality of our aliveness.  This is where the secret of our being lies.  Quality is the innermost, energetic essence of our life…”

  • Becoming a powerful servant of humanity

“When the attitude of prompt surrender has become permanently engrained in a person while still in bodily life, that person becomes a powerful servant of humanity…”

  • The embodiment of freedom

“Rather than something to be defended, freedom would simply be something to be lived…”

  • The awakening of conscience

“When conscience awakens in a person, it brings not only the obligation but also a mysterious ability to be present in exactly the right way.”

  • Allowing our outer lives to break up

“We need to experience our own personal aliveness as part of that great cosmic aliveness.  Above all, however, we need to allow our outer lives to break up, if necessary, in order to release the divine aliveness within and to understand once again the meaning and beauty of this gesture.”

How can we learn to embody Wisdom in everyday life?

Book Review- Open the Door: A Journey to the True Self by Joyce Rupp


Joyce Rupp has written a fantastic book!  This book is all about finding what is authentic within us.  Joyce encourages us on a journey of courage to embrace our true selves.  She uses the metaphor of opening the door to guide us deeper within ourselves to befriend what we find and learn from it.  It is emphasized that divine revelation is happening all the time, but we need to become more aware of its message of transformation within.

  • Experiences are stepping stones to wisdom

“We can find ourselves grumbling when life does not give us all we want or when the price of transformation costs us dearly.  Failures, defeats, and disillusionments temporarily wipe out our hope of reaching the promised land of our true self until we realize these very experiences are stepping stones to the wisdom we need…”

  • The realm of beauty and potential growth within us

“We have this realm of beauty and potential growth within us, but we do not always believe in it or know how to reach it.  When we do find our way to our true self, there is work to be done in order to resurrect or restore our innate goodness…”

  • Nothing is left out from divine revelation

“Not a person, place, or moment is left out from divine revelation.  Something of value for our growth is always being made known to us in the midst of our ordinary lives.  This revelation stretches far beyond and much deeper than how we usually perceive life.  Our spiritual development depends on our being alive and vigilant enough to hear the message of transformation that weaves through our daily existence.”

  • The freedom of becoming our true selves

“While Jesus opened physical eyes and ears, his deeper message centered on an interior releasing that led people to the freedom of becoming their true selves…”

  • Befriending what is within us and learning from it

“When we open the door to the true self, we uncover more of the sum of who we are.  Initially, this may lead to discomfort instead of peace, for not everything we find is what we want.  But if we befriend what is within us and are willing to learn from it, serenity will ultimately reign at the center of our being.”

  • The greater the contribution of our presence in the world

“The further we enter our authentic self, the greater the contribution of our presence in the world.  Within the confines of our inner sanctuary, fuller love arises and keener awareness grows of how intimately connected we are to all that exists.  We become a nonjudgmental, listening, caring presence.  Rather than engendering fear or animosity in us, the vast diversity of people with whom we engage enlarges our compassion and broadens our enthusiasm for the complex and mysterious nature of humanity.”

How can we have a greater contribution of presence to the world through living into our true self?

Subverting Upward Mobility


As I have grown up in our North American culture, it seems I have developed my dreams unconsciously around the narrative of upward mobility.  My family, my educational experiences and many media outlets have all proclaimed to me the so called truth of a life of upward mobility which will make me happy.  I am finding more and more that this narrative of upward mobility is destructive to my spirituality.

  • Stability in the parish

Upward mobility is the trend of our culture and if Christians are ever to be countercultural we need not to follow the leadings of upward mobility.  We need to follow Christ instead into stability in the parish.  The parish imagination does not embody or embrace upward mobility.

  • The narrative of upward mobility is an illusion

Upward mobility is an illusion that we try to chase to our destruction.  Upward mobility is the root of sin in ourselves and our culture.  Upward mobility is the cult of the age.  Upward mobility is a big part of institutional Christianity, it is sad to say.

  • Letting go of upward mobility

We cannot follow Christ when we are following upward mobility.  Upward mobility is very North American.  And Christianity is not from North America.  We need to let go of all postures of upward mobility within us and unlearn this whole North American way of life to be countercultural again.

  • Upward mobility cuts us off from being present

Alan J. Roxburgh says, “We have been a society that moves about, often grasping
after upward mobility or the lie that we need more space to attend to the individualistic needs of our children and ourselves.  All this movement cuts us off from being present in a neighborhood…”

  • Do our children really need upward mobility?

We often think that our children need upward mobility to be raised correctly.  But this is not true.  They need to be in relationships with all kinds of diverse people so that they do not grow up to be prejudice, judgmental and apathetic becoming numb to the hardships of others.  They need to see the reality of poverty and all that comes with it so that they do not become contributers to the systems that create poverty when they grow up.

  • Stability could rebuild our country

If enough Christians began to practice stability together we could model for our children what it would look like to not run from poverty into upward mobility all of the time. Stability could rebuild our country.  Stability could subvert upward mobility.

  • Upward mobility is extremely individualistic

The body of Christ is called to this kind of stability in the parish because upward mobility is very individualistic.  The body of Christ is not called into an individualism, but is called into the parish imagination together.  We are called to subvert the individualism of upward mobility together in our local context.

Why is upward mobility such a part of North American culture?