Friday, July 12, 2013

not just child's play: Imagination

What does it mean to be a whole person, and to live in that fullness?  This past year, in the fellowship program I did, we all found Skip Ryan's tripartite model of a human person to be helpful:

We strive to live fully in each of these areas, to love God and others with each part of us.  I believe that the faculty of the imagination is crucial for uniting these parts of us.  Our imaginations link our heads and our hearts, leading to action.

Wait! Imagination?  Isn't that something for children?
 In the post-enlightenment West, we value logical, rational thought.  Science and much of the progress of the last few centuries is built on this, right?  (only partly so, but I'll save that for a post on science!)  Because of this it is easy to dismiss the value of our imaginations.

Before going further, let us first clear up a few terms.  Note the differences between real, tangible, and valuable.  Something doesn't need to be tangible - that is, can be observed by one or more of the senses - to be real.  A word in my head can be just as real before it is spoken.  Whether or not an equation represents a relation between physical objects, it is still a real equation.  Furthermore, both tangible and intangible things can be valuable, with equal weight.


Ok, enough technicalities, and back to how our imaginations operate to make us whole people.  Examine the root of the word: imagination.  Images could be called the currency our imagination.  Consider what movies, books, advertisements, etc do: they capture our imaginations through interesting images.  We remember them later because our minds can easily replay - or imagine them.  We enjoy taking them further in our minds (eg. imagining an ending to a story).

Let's not skip over advertisements: what do they do?  They capture our imagination so that our desires are shaped, leading eventually to action.  By my previous line of reasoning this could be considered good (because it connects all three parts of us), but it is not!  This is because advertisements (manipulatively) shape us in one particular way (to want to buy stuff we don't need).

We can't really avoid advertisements, and staging a protest against them doesn't seem like a good plan.  So what do we do?  We learn from them.  Rather than being passively shaped by outside influences, such as in the media, why not intentionally seek to have our imaginations captured elsewhere?

That is the question I leave you with today.  I challenge you to consider today when and how you are using your imagination.

upcoming topics:
imagination and stories
imagination and reading the Bible
imagination and prayer

imagination |iˌmajəˈnāSHən|
the faculty or action of forming new ideas, or images or concepts of external objects not present to the senses
• the ability of the mind to be creative or resourceful
• the part of the mind that imagines things

ORIGIN Middle English: via Old French from Latin imaginatio(n-), from the verb imaginari ‘picture to oneself,’ from imago, imagin- ‘image.’


1 comment:

  1. I love this. Thanks so much for posting, and I look forward to the future posts around this topic.