Crisis of Imagination

My wife, Kacie, and I have been travelling a decent amount over the last two weeks. Currently, we are in London. London is one of those cities that feels like a second home to us in many ways, because we have spent enough time here to have a normal routine when we visit.

Yesterday morning, I was watching the news as I was getting ready for the day when a story about Universal Basic Income and some examples of how cities have been experimenting with it for artists and musicians, came on Al Jazeera. One of the interviews in the story focused on a man and his family praying and saying that they were thankful to God for this opportunity to focus their efforts on growing their business for the time they would receive the UBI.

The journalist immediately highlighted how this was so life-changing that many people are even attributing it to God – this is the part that caught my attention – when it’s not really God at all, but the government providing it.

One of the biggest challenges we face today is the lack of imagination. We have become so accustomed to seeing the world in terms of physical versus spiritual realities that we have forgotten how to imagine them as being interconnected and complementary. We have reduced our understanding of reality to a binary choice: either material or immaterial, either natural or supernatural. This way of thinking has impoverished our culture and our lives. It has prevented us from exploring the richness and depth of the world in which we live, rather than a holistic and integrated vision of reality that transcends the either/or dichotomy.

I believe that God created both the physical and the spiritual realms, and that they are not separate or opposed, but rather complementary and interconnected. Many people would probably hear my belief in a Creator as a statement in favor of the six-day creation theory, but that is simply not the case. In reality, this assumption a perfect example of the close-minded thought process that has permeated our society. The language of calling on creation itself to bring forth or produce existence may be disputed among many, but the theory of evolution does not provide an answer to whether or not there was a creative purpose in the origin of the universe.

This means that everything we see existing, evolving, and unfolding around us has a deeper significance than what we perceive on the surface. I believe we live in a reality that is both physical and spiritual, both natural and supernatural, both present and future. I believe in a Creator who is sovereign, but also allows our free will to impact ourselves and our world. All of this is happening at once, not in conflict – both/and. But, many choose to forsake the deeper meaning in favor of the immediacy of the physical.

Our failure of imagination – along with an ignorance of context – has caused us to look on earlier writings, such as philosophical books and even the books of the Bible, in a highly flawed manner. Paul, who was put to death for his faith, described himself as being the “protos” among sinners, which means the first (1 Timothy 1:15). He was a follower of Christ who was deeply flawed, and he was honest about it. Paul did not seem to put on a show of perfection, but shared his desire for it. Paul understood that he could be both a follower of Christ, and he was also a deeply flawed person who continued to fall short of his goal in faith. Paul was both/and.

When we dumb-down events into categories of either/or, then we are really just perpetuating ignorance and closed-mindedness. There is a reality that is more than what we see with our eyes or touch with our hands. When we refuse to envision or to consider this reality we are left wondering about the purpose for our existence. We lose our imagination as individuals and as a society. Instead of living for a higher purpose, this loss of imagination causes us to pursue instant gratification at the detriment of our future and that of others with whom we journey through life.

Back to the original news story that inspired this article, an event can be both/and. It is perfectly reasonable for God to be the source of the person’s financial relief as well as the government’s UBI program.

Instead of giving in to this oddity of western thought – that is supposedly “enlightened” – let’s imagine a reality that is full of wonder and mystery, full of beauty and goodness, full of love and joy. A reality that is full of something greater than ourselves with which we seek to align – the reality of God.

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