Our cultural imagination right now is being shaped by the lies and distortions of commercialism and materialism and violence. When we allow entertainment and productivity and consumer products and celebrity to shape who we are as a culture, we can only imagine a life lived on the surface, a life without deep meaning and purpose, a life without love.
And we witness horror upon horror.
But there is a different way to shape and form a cultural imagination. A way of beauty and truth and justice. A way of hope. To follow this way, we need to cultivate our spiritual imaginations.
Cultivating a spiritual imagination means cultivating a way of seeing what is possible in individuals and society through the lens of the Spirit, through the lens of belovedness. It means envisioning a future in which we value people for their diverse gifts. A future in which “there’s something worth dying for, but nothing worth killing for” (as Shane Claiborne has written). A future in which there is no more “death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Rev. 21:4).
The spiritual imagination is what allows us to stay in the pain of the present moment. To cry out and mourn with those who mourn and refuse to flinch from the terror of it all. Because the spiritual imagination is also what tethers us to hope, to the promise of a love that endures and remains and overpowers death and destruction. The spiritual imagination allows us to glimpse that future and pull it towards us even in the midst of the present pain.
Cultivating a spiritual imagination means going deeper than entertainment and consumerism and busyness. It means humble admission of our injustices and wrongdoings. It means humble admission of our desperate need for God. It means being shaped and formed by the portrait of humanity and creation offered to us by Jesus and by other men and women of God who had a glimpse of what the upside down kingdom of God would be like. It means being shaped and formed by love.
More with Amy Julia:
- Hope and the Spiritual Imagination
- How the Spiritual Imagination Moves Us Towards Hope
- Hope Heals: Partnership of Hope and Healing
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