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Signs of the Times  •  5 June 2018 •  No. 163

Invocation.Imagine,” by John Lennon, performed by the Secaucus (New Jersey) High School and Middle School, on the 4 March 2018, National School Walkout.

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       Imagination is one of our age’s feel-good words, and if you use it (and I do, a lot), first pause to consider the term’s shadow side.

        Imaginary, a linguistic cousin, can be used to describe a life removed from the vicissitudes of history, e.g., pipe dreams sprinkled with pixie dust, also known as magical thinking. To call such living childish is an insult to children. Imagination is not escapism. Spiritual life is not evacuation to another world. . . .” —continue reading “Imagination and transformation: ‘Do not be conformed’”

Use the list quotes that follow as prompts to personal and communal prayer, to
recover and rejuvenate the longing that mortal life be delivered from the grip of
this brutal age and transformed by the One who makes all things new.

§ A vision without a task is but a dream, a task without a vision is drudgery, a vision with a task is the hope of the world. ~Church inscription, Sussex, England (1730)

§ Imagination is more important than knowledge. ~Albert Einstein

§ Violence is the behavior of someone incapable of imagining other solutions to the problem at hand. ~Vicenç Fisas

§ While the Passover narrative [in Exodus] energizes Israel’s imagination toward justice, Israel’s hard work of implementation of that imaginative scenario was done at Mt. Sinai. . . . Moses’ difficult work at Sinai is to transform the narrative vision of the Exodus into a sustainable social practice that has institutional staying-power, credibility, and authority. ~Walter Brueggemann

Short story. “Forty inmates lined up for smudging to enter the sacred circle for the Native American prayers. I spotted Genaro and a little alarm went off in my head. ‘Genaro, can I talk to you for a minute?’ He smiled and nodded.

        “The shade of the building sheltered us from the blistering noonday sun and got us out of hearing range of the other men. ‘Genaro, you know that you must either go into the circle to smoke the pipe, or stay outside the circle by yourself. Last week I noticed that another guy sat with you outside the circle. If custody staff sees that, they assume you’re passing tobacco.’

        “A glint of sun struck his face as he erupted. ‘Who told you to say this to me? You racist like everybody. . . .’

        “He turned away, his arms flailing with each billowing Spanish word that I didn’t need a translator to understand. A dozen Latinos broke their line and encircled him. I walked closer to them, clutching my radio. Officers who could have offered assistance were inside a locked door on the other side of the building, exactly where I wanted to be at that moment.” —continue reading Nancy Hastings Sehested’s “Imagine this: A story from prison

§ It always seems impossible until it’s done. ~Nelson Mandela

§ As for me, the grounds of my hope have always been that history is wilder than our imagination of it and that the unexpected shows up far more regularly than we ever dream. ~Rebecca Solnit

§ I believe our task is to develop a moral and aesthetic imagination deep enough and wide enough to encompass the contradictions of our time and history, the tremendous loss and tragedy as well as greatness and nobility, an imagination capable of recognizing that where there is light there is shadow, that out of hubris and fall can come moral regeneration, out of suffering and death, resurrection and rebirth. ~Richard Tarnas

§ All things are possible to the one that believes. ~Jesus

§ Imagination is better than a sharp instrument. To pay attention, this is our endless and proper work. ~Mary Oliver

§ Hold fast to dreams, / for if dreams die,  / life is a broken-winged bird / that cannot fly. / Hold fast to dreams / For when dreams go / Life is a barren field / Frozen with snow. ~Langston Hughes

§ A person will worship something, have no doubt about that. We may think our tribute is paid in secret in the dark recesses of our hearts, but it will out. That which dominates our imaginations and our thoughts will determine our lives, and our character. Therefore, it behooves us to be careful what we worship, for what we are worshiping we are becoming. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

§ Moral imagination is the capacity to imagine something rooted in the challenge of the real world yet capable of giving birth to that which does not yet exist. . . . The moral imagination believes and acts on the basis that the unexpected is possible. It operates with the view that the creative act is always within human potential, but creativity requires moving beyond the parameters of what is visible, what currently exists, or what is taken as given. . . .  ~John Paul Lederach

§ Every great advance in science has issued from a new audacity of imagination. ~John Dewey

§ To hope is a duty, not a luxury. To hope is not a dream, but to turn dream into reality. Happy are those who dream dreams, and are ready to pay the price to make them come true. ~Cardinal Leo Suenens

§ In order to create an effective movement for redemptive engagement, reflective work must be integrated with affective learning in the context of a community of conviction. Mind and imagination must be addressed, and these must be tethered to disciplines of concrete and communal commitments. ~Ken Sehested

§ Human imagination is not simply our means of reaching out to God but God’s means of manifesting himself to us. ~Christian Wiman

§ When we are dissatisfied with things as they are, or suffer and know pain, we begin to imagine what the world would be like if things were different—if there were no hunger or thirst and all tears were wiped away (Rev. 7:14). Creative imagination reaches toward God, and glimpses a new heaven and new earth. The new reality has nothing to do with the present order. In fact, the one who responds to call seeks to put something more beautiful in the place of what she sees. This is where the friction and fight begin. ~Elizabeth O’Connor

§ If you want to change people's obedience then you must change their imagination. ~Paul Ricoeur

§ The step between ecstatic vision and sinful frenzy is all too brief. ~Franciscan priest William of Manchester (played by Sean Connery), in the movie “The Name of the Rose”

§ You can't depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus. ~Mark Twain

§ The Eucharist has been preempted and redefined in dualistic thinking that leaves the status quo of the world untouched, so congregations can take the meal without raising questions of violence; the outcome is a “colonized imagination” that is drained of dangerous hope. ~Walter Brueggemann

§ To be sane in a mad time / Is bad for the brain, worse / For the heart. The world / Is a holy vision, had we clarity / To see it. ~Wendell Berry

§ Most peacemakers don’t begin with a grand vision. They begin with the troubles at hand and the resources they have. Then you act for good, for justice, for healing, for hope, for peace. It’s as simple as that. ~Dan Buttry

§ The two, suffering and hope, live from each other. Suffering without hope produces resentment and despair. Hope without suffering creates illusions, naïveté, and drunkenness. Let us plant dates, even though we who plant them will never eat them. We must live by the love of what we will never see. This is the secret discipline. ~Rubem Alves

§ Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere. ~Albert Einstein

§ When we are dreaming alone, it is only a dream. When we are dreaming with others, it is the beginning of reality. ~Dom Hélder Câmara

§ Sometimes imagination pounces; mostly it sleeps soundly in the corner, purring. ~Terri Guillemets

§ You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus. ~Mark Twain

§ Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things that escape those who dream only at night. ~Edgar Allan Poe

§ Any real change implies the breakup of the world as one had always known it, the loss of all that gave one identity, the end of safety, and at such a moment, unable to see and not daring to imagine what the future will bring forth, one clings to what one knew, to what one possessed or dreamed that one possessed. Yet, it is only when a man is able, without bitterness or self pity, to surrender a dream he has long cherished, or a privilege he has long possessed, that he is set free—that he has set himself free—for higher dreams, for greater privileges. ~James Baldwin

§ Vision is the art of seeing things invisible. ~Jonathan Swift

§ The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes. ~Marcel Proust

§ All people dream: but not equally. / Those who dream by night / in the dusty recesses of their minds / wake in the day to find that it was vanity. / But the dreamers of the day / are dangerous people, / for they may act their dream with open eyes / to make it possible. ~T.E. Lawrence

§ Fantasy mirrors desire. Imagination reshapes it. ~Mason Cooley

§ Rationalism is merely the human structuring of reality by those in power. ~author unknown

§ You will recognize your own path when you come upon it, because you will suddenly have all the energy and imagination you will ever need. ~Jerry Gillies

§ The Possible’s slow fuse is lit / by the Imagination. ~Emily Dickinson

§ Sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast. ~Lewis Carroll

§ Things are only impossible until they're not. ~Jean-Luc Picard, Star Trek: The Next Generation

§ Perhaps imagination is only intelligence having fun. ~George Scialabba

§ You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have. ~Maya Angelou

§ Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought. ~Albert Szent-Györgyi

§ The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping old ones. ~John Maynard Keynes

§ Love in action is a harsh and dreadful thing compared with love in dreams. Love in dreams is greedy for immediate action, rapidly performed and in sight of all. Men will give their lives if only the ordeal does not last long but is soon over, with all looking on and applauding as if on the stage. But active love is labor and fortitude. ~Fyodor Dostoyevsky

§ No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it. ~Albert Einstein

§ When we engage in what we are naturally suited to do, our work takes on the quality of play and it is play that stimulates creativity. ~Linda Naiman

§ It seems to be one of the paradoxes of creativity that in order to think originally, we must familiarize ourselves with the ideas of others. ~George Kneller

§ It is good to be introduced by someone with a glib tongue, a vivid imagination and an elastic conscience. ~Foy Valentine

 § You can crush the flowers, but you can’t stop the spring. . . . As for me, the grounds of my hope have always been that history is wilder than our imagination of it and that the unexpected shows up far more regularly than we ever dream. ~Alexander Dubcek, hero of the Prague Spring uprising of 1968

§ We do not live by what is possessed but by what is promised. ~Walter Brueggemann

§ The person who loves their dream of community will destroy community, but the person who loves those around them will create community. ~Dietrich Bonhoeffer

§ I slept and dreamt that life was joy; / I awoke and saw that life was service; / I acted and, behold, service was joy. ~Rabindranath Tagore

§ Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, / the world offers itself to your imagination, / calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting — / over and over announcing your place / in the family of things. ~Mary Oliver

§ We are a little lost here in America. Too many of us have tuned out, and too many of us are deeply tuned in to the wrong things. Our eccentricities have curdled into crochets. Our love for the strange and deeply weird has soured into a devotion to the mean and deeply angry. Our renegade national soul has given itself up to petty outlawry. . . . Imagination always has been the way out—a faith in that which seems impossible, a trust that not every mystery is a murder mystery, and that not every mysterious creature is a monster. Imagination is the way out—a belief that safety is not necessarily the primary (or even the secondary) goal of democratic citizenship, and that a self-governing political commonwealth does not always come with a lifetime guarantee. Yes, we are a little lost here in America, but we can find our way, and the best way that we can find is the one that seems like the least secure, the darkest trail, the one with the long, sweeping bend in the road that leads god knows where. ~Charles P. Pierce, “Goodbye to All That”

§ Where there is no vision, the people perish. ~Proverbs 29:18

Benediction. “When God imagined me / the Trinity was in harmony / I was no afterthought, no oversight.” — Alana Levandoski “When God Imagined Me” (Thanks Lenora.)

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