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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Ministry of Imagination

We need to ask not whether it is realistic or practical or viable but whether it is imaginable…  The hope-filled language of prophecy, in cutting through the royal despair and hopelessness, is the language of amazement... the language of amazement is the ultimate energizer.
                                                                          ~ Walter Brueggemann

by Lauren Van Ham

Recently, I was holding space for a group of individuals engaged in a process of deep formation.  In the course of their sharing, questions surfaced about race and the unexamined privilege in the group.  I wonder what it feels like to simply read these words in this blog?

Race.  Unexamined privilege.

Reactions in the group ranged from seat-shifting and barely waiting their turn to speak, to downcast expressions and complete withdraw.  And my reaction was in there, too.  In that moment, more than anything, I wanted to have a conversation about race and privilege as though each person in the room were fearlessly, joyously describing a part of their story – how they got here and what’s important to them. 

But we’re not there yet.  The conversation about race and privilege isn’t over, because it’s not finished. And there are many more conversations just like it.

In effort to learn more about what had happened in the group that day, I sat with one of my trusted mentors and described my desire to move past the topics of racism, power, sexism, privilege, you-name-it, and experience a new kind of conversation, a new form of connecting human to human.  My mentor re-focused my longing with simple instruction, “The prophetic imagination renews our energy to see and work with the things we no longer want to see.” 


There was a thud of recognition in my chest.  There are so many conversations I, we – all of us – wish could be over.  Prophetic imagination nudges us to look again, and it begins with *amazement:

  • In America, 1 of every 3 black men can expect to go to prison in their lifetime.
  • The human heart weighs only half a pound, but it does the daily work-equivalent of lifting 1 ton from the ground to the top of a five-story building.
  • At least 80% of humanity lives on less than $10 a day
  • It takes about 600 gallons of water to make one hamburger
  • NBA player, Kobe Bryant is paid 30.4 million to play for the L.A. Lakers
  • About 64.5 million people volunteered through or for an organization at least once between September 2011 and September 2012
  • If we were to fit our solar system into a coffee cup, the Milky Way galaxy surrounding it would be the size of North America…
  • If the DNA in our bodies were uncoiled and laid end to end, it would reach the moon and back 100,000 times. 
  • Prairie grasses grow roots measuring 10,000 miles long, and bamboo can grow up to 3 ft in 24 hours.

And with some amazement in the air, are we then able to add the ministry of imagination….our own? 

What, in your last 2 days, has been amazing?  Where, in the world, your communities, your family, are you longing for some prophetic imagination?  How might imagination bring fresh eyes to your view today?

About Lauren: Lauren is an interfaith minister and lives in Berkeley, CA.  She serves as the Dean of Interfaith Studies at The Chaplaincy Institute and tends a private Spiritual Direction practice.  You can read Lauren’s blog at: http://www.laurenvanham.com/

*Amazement Sources:
8. DNA

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