Work in Progress

Baseball, Seminary, Wrestling, and the Dreams and Days of one Mike Work's Angeles experience

Monday, December 12, 2005

Fantasy and Imagination

Walter Brueggemann's one of those scholars who has both encouraged and discouraged me towards further study. Encouraging, in that I love his work, and resonate deeply with what he's done. Discouraging, in that i don't really see any need to write a book or ten, since he's already written most of what i'd want to say.

In The Book that Breathes New Life, Brueggemann urges the church to carefully consider our scriptures, and suggests that the danger is that we settle for private fantasy instead of imagination. He defines imagination as the capacity to entertain images of meaning and reality that are beyond the evident givens of observable experience, or the hosting of 'otherwise,' taking risks and daring to push from what we know to what we hope. I think he's onto something, and that the distinction is valuable. (FINISH THOUGHT)

In my case, following Jesus has lit the wick of many a dream in an already-active imagination, while my life's been the gauntlet in which those dreams are tested. When life gets tough, or simply routine and tedious, it's pretty damn easy to get discouraged, to say 'it'll never happen,' and relegate God-given dreams to the realm of fantasy, disconnected from our day-to-day reality.

I'd go so far to suggest that we Christ-followers even read the bible in this way, and have often been subtlely encouraged to do so. For instance, the dominant protestant views of the Sermon on the Mount all end with 'this isn't a tenable way of life.' To put it bluntly, we've learned not to believe it, and to have counter-arguments for every dreamer who asks the question 'what if this is real?'

A lot of the disconnect between the scriptures and our world is tied to the harsh realities of life, which tend to cloud out our defining reality, God's reign which Jesus spoke of and lived out. Life's tough, and it's awfully hard to see this crazy story as the way things actually are when we're knee-deep in crap. Yet these struggles tend to be the places in which strong people of unshakable faith are birthed, and in which we become people who can dream these dreams and live in them over the long haul.

On that note, i've been sitting in Romans 5 of late, reading Paul's words to a church of people he's never met:

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, throough whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverence; perseverence, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.


Sufferings produce perseverence, and perseverence, character, and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint. This new creation we patiently and actively await, it is real. Our God is a loving God, and we see this most clearly in Jesus, dying on behalf of the ungodly, the not-righteous, of those who were not at all like him.

And that's the grounding point, the point of reference that we keep going back to, and that keeps our dreams and hopes of a new world intact, when it all seems like pie-in-the sky craziness. God actually loves, and has demonstrated this for us, and when we live in that world, anything is possible. (MUCH MORE TO SAY...LITTLE BATTERY LEFT)


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