One of the best decisions I made since moving to Vancouver last August was taking a course at Regent College titled “The Christian Imagination". I've been incredibly blessed by this experience in so many ways, and one of them is in how it has exposed me to the writings of Christian theologians I had never heard of before.
The Awakening is a weekly series I started on my Instagram in December to share some of my own thoughts and reflections from the course, and I'm re-sharing the posts here in their entirety.
If you can spare 10-15 minutes of your time to read them, these quotes are gonna blow your mind - in a good way!
Today's quote is from Walter Brueggemann's 2012 book "Remember You Are Dust". ⠀
To remember that we are dust is not a call for us to remember our sinfulness, but our creatureliness. We are creatures of God. God sees us as we are and loves us as we are, as it says in Psalm 103:14 ("For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust"). ⠀
Before reading this, I had a very corporeal understanding of “dust” - it was particulate matter, it was inanimate, it was basically what would happen to me when I die. ⠀
Through this text, I have come to realise that "dust" isn't just a state we are reduced to. It is a way for us to acknowledge that we are created. We have a Creator who possesses the most powerful imagination ever, and what did He create out of dust, out of nothing? Us.⠀
As Brueggemann puts it: "The memory of dust does not diminish and denigrate and humiliate, but is rather an evangelical affirmation that as we own our true self, we are invited to a trusting embrace of the faithfulness and power of God mobilised for our well-being."⠀
Today’s quote is from George MacDonald’s 1867 text "The Imagination: Its Functions And Its Culture". ⠀
MacDonald argues that man's imagination is "made in the image of the imagination of God. Everything in man must have been of God first". Our ability to dream, create, conjure, ponder is, in essence, a reflection of God's own abilities. ⠀
What I like most about this quote is that it’s a subtle nod to the importance of community (this is my own reading of it, not MacDonald's). When we exercise our imaginations and turn an idea into something tangible, there is always a relational aspect to it. I don't know how many times I've seen something and gone "Wow, that describes exactly how I feel right now", or "Now that is such a novel way of seeing things". Through other people's writings, illustrations and songs, we see ourselves a little clearer, and we know ourselves a little bit better.⠀
To me, it's something like what a top photographer does when he takes a photo of, say, a waterfall. Whether it's his trained eye or his expensive equipment, he could make that scene look so much more awe-inspiring than my iPhone camera could. And because of this, I see that waterfall in a new light.
It's also been encouraging to realise that what I write helps other people to see things anew too, even though sometimes I feel like I'm sharing things in a void. But as MacDonald puts it so beautifully: We are not created to exist alone, and there is always something new, something fresh, waiting to be revealed.
Today’s quote is from Jeremy Begbie’s 1991 book “Voicing Creation’s Praise: Towards A Theology Of The Arts”. ⠀⠀
Begbie writes that creativity needs to be expressed in a corporate context, as “self-fulfillment is discovered only in relationship”. ⠀⠀
To be honest, I’m not comfortable with being creative. I’ve always felt like it would be drawing too much attention to myself, or create the need for validation and praise from people. When I had to present a creative project in front of my classmates for this class, I was totally dreading it because I didn’t think my piece was good enough.⠀⠀
I now realise that being creative actually serves a larger purpose. It’s not just an outlet of expression of one’s gifts and talents. It isn’t about being self-indulgent or self-glorifying. Rather, it’s a way for us to reflect His glory, His goodness, His mercy, and His love to those around us. Our community, as Begbie so eloquently puts it. When our creative pursuits are framed in this light, how much more powerful will they become? ⠀⠀
This holiday season, my prayer is that we seek fresh fire, fresh anointing from God, that He will renew our minds, hearts and spirits and reveal how we can be creative in ways that will glorify God, not man. Have a blessed Christmastime friends 💖
Today’s quote is from Jeremy Begbie’s 1991 book “Voicing Creation’s Praise: Towards A Theology Of The Arts”. ⠀
A phrase that’s been on my mind lately is that we are all human. We all bleed the same, no matter the colour of our skin. But sometimes we treat others as less than human. I’ve been in Los Angeles, California this past week and there are so many homeless people living off the streets here... they seem like a shell of what it means to be human. I must admit that I feel a little wary and afraid of what they might say or do, even though I know I shouldn’t feel this way. ⠀
When I think of “authentic humanity”, I think “Jesus”. He ministered to prostitutes and abused women. He hung out with tax collectors, a reviled bunch in their time. He took in lowly, uneducated fishermen as disciples. He didn’t just say nice and encouraging things to those of an apparently lower stature. He lifted them up out of their circumstances on the spiritual plane - by telling them they were loved, they were forgiven, they were healed, they were free. ⠀
Begbie’s words really make sense to me because if I relied on my own human strength, I doubt I can do what Jesus did for the poor, marginalised and destitute. But by the power of the Holy Spirit? Now that’s a whole different story. ⠀
My prayer is that the scales will fall off our prejudiced, judgmental eyes, so that we will truly see others around us as Jesus sees them. After all, being human - remember we are dust - and celebrating our humanity - by participating and contributing to our community - is something our faith calls us to do, over and over again.