Monday, February 11, 2008

Perception, Imagination and Reality

“Illusion is the first of all pleasures.” Oscar Wilde.

In Nashville and pondering the differences between what we imagine, what we perceive and what is real. This works on a number of levels and not always in a good way. I think all of us can fall victim to the tyranny of imagination and expectation. When we build up an idea of what someone or something is or could be to us then look out reality. Reality can never match the power and majesty of the imagination and the perfection we have dreamed off. Real life is harder and messier and takes more courage to face with our eyes and hearts open.
This also works in our perception of ideas and theology. I’ve had that challenged this last 10 days by visiting church. A church that at least in theory, by splitting from its denomination is on one particular side of a current hot potato issue in the church. One of those big issues that we all like to fixate on while ignoring the overwhelming message of scripture which doesn’t say much about it at all.
But lets not get into that now. Instinctively I find myself on the other side of the argument from this church, but friends I’m staying with were going there and enjoying it and so I’ve gone along and had my preconceived notions challenged. I’ve enjoyed the services and met some interesting people, people who are exploring ideas in an honest and sincere way. And not just the kind of ideas I would expect. I was expecting conservative but have seen a wide range of opinion and some good answers to my questions – Hey I even met one person who is reading Pete Rollins book – How Not To Speak of God – and enjoying it and digging the Eckhart inspired constant deconstruction theology. And that’s good enough for me.
So I’ve been pleasantly surprised and challenged about my own perceptions. My friend JDD is currently working on a book about the sacredness of questioning everything and he describes it thus – good questions make new worlds possible, let in the air …….and create conspiracies of hopefulness. There’s way more good stuff in there but its not published yet so no more quotes - buy it when it comes out.
And my conclusion is to please answer that summons to sacred questioning , keep talking and have the courage to get beyond perception. My life is richer this past week from asking questions, the answers to which revealed that my expectations and preconceptions were quite simply WRONG.


mister tumnus said...

hi mark. really enjoyed reading this! :)

on imagination, have you seen pan's labyrinth? i won't repeat all the thoughts i had after seeing it but you can read about them here:

would love to hear your thoughts on this as the relationship between faith and imagination is something i'm still questioning. beers!

The Father said...

Oh yeah yeah yeah - Absolutely loved it, even with the scary bits like the eyeballs in the hands....aaaahhh.

But a fantastical use of imagination and story and I do agree with you on the link between faith and imagination - becoming like a little child. Even Paul admits that right now we only see through a glass darkly - I think we have to use our imagination to believe what is on the other side of reality. Its like Blakes idea of seeing with and not through the eye.

In fact religious fundamentalism is often about a lack of imagination. I would go as far as to say its one of the components of faith .... as you say like a little child ... maybe we shoud translate that as - unless you have imagination like a little child you cannot see the kingdom of God .....

Maybe this can be our discussion at the first meeting of the Belfast Inklings ..... m

mister tumnus said...

i'll drink (lemsip) to that!

The Father said...

though they did meet in a pub so maybe we should consider that ...