‘Thus every totalitarian regime is frightened of the artist. It is the vocation of the prophet to keep alive the ministry of imagination, to keep on conjuring and proposing futures alternative to the single one the king wants to urge as the only thinkable one’.
Here, amidst these sentences, is where my hope and heart dwell. Like truth, layered with truth, so many of Brueggemann’s statements unleashed a great sense of hope and possibility in me.
I can’t sing. I can play an instrument. I can’t paint. I can’t dance.
But I can hear the whispers of the Kingdom build as I put pen to paper and finger to keyboard.
I have felt the suffocation of years of good theology gone bad. Do good. Be good. Don’t ask questions; seek only the answers found in Scripture. Sit and soak. Well intended sermons confirming my right to consume my Christianity rather than participate with it. And all the while secretly hoping that God was to be found in the lonely places, the wide open spaces, the quiet moments and the broken hearts.
The Christianity presented to me was nicely boxed, wrapped with ribbon and bows. A glittering present to be adored and treasured, kept safe and nurtured. And while there is no doubt that salvation is an undeserved gift, it is also essential that we resolve to make salvation the beginning of a journey that requires our hands and feet, our hearts and minds.
The church in all its good intention has mimicked this cultures consumerism and passivity – at the sake of the artists, the poets, the imaginers’.
The ones that don’t quite fit.
The ones that don’t see the world in black and white or even greys.
The ones who see the Kingdom sneaking in on the edge of their paint brushes, at the sweep of their hands, at the smell of their cooking.
These are the ones who will point us in the direction of a deeper, freer, sweeter life.
They are the ones who will pull us away from this frail, fickle attempt at life and of this future rooted in apathy. They are the ones who will hold our hands and take us to the outer regions. The places where the poor and broken dwell.
The ministry of imagination sits directly opposite, but not in opposition, to my years of studying systematic theology. They go hand in hand. As Brueggemann so beautifully demonstrated. The church needs the good theology of imaginers and prophets to lead us to those lonely, desolate places that crave colour and light and life. At the intersection where amazement joins forces with pragmatism; that is where I want to live. Brueggmann has infused me with hope and possibility. I am so grateful for his words. And while we get ready for the imaginer prophets to raise their staffs and declare the freedom of the Living God I will dare to imagine that words, written in hurried, hushed moments will begin to dissolve the empire of consumerism and passivity. And I will dare to believe that good theology will be found in the poet’s voice and the painter’s stroke. And I will dare to claim that in the activity of creating and imagining, the Kingdom will come.
(This post is apart of the Reading in Transit Book Club. It is linked up here. Please go and check out other amazing, heart felt responses to Walter Brueggemann’s ‘The Prophetic Imagination’. There are some great conversations to be had!)