Mike Cope's blog

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Permit me one more whack at the idea of spiritual imagination. The apocalyptic poetry of scripture is alive, full of electricity, and mysterious. It peeks at history from God's perspective. It imagines a world where the way of Christ is pursued. It is full of bolts of lightning and galloping riders. This poetry seeks to open our eyes to see that prayers--even prayers that seem tired and rote--are really atomic bombs that light up the heavens. It helps us grasp the love of God that is missional to the core. It reminds us that the final trump card will be played by God. He, the Ruler of the Universe, will win. Too much reading of this chunk of scripture has been flat and deadening. The life has been sucked out of it so that it becomes bizarre crystal-ball guessing. Poetry is reduced to prose. It's the worst kind of Western, enlightened, scientific "study" of scripture. (We have spent so much time working on scripture rather than letting scripture work on us! Perhaps we should spend less time trying to bring scripture into our world and more time on letting ourselves be drawn into the counter-cultural world it spotlights.) Is your life short on spiritual imagination? Go back to the prophets. Read Revelation again. Instead of trying to figure out "what this is secretly referring to," use all your powers of imaginition. Picture a world where hope and grace are leaking through every window--even in the midst of suffering.

12 Comments:

  • Well, Mike...if you have any questions about this whole "spiritual imagination" thing, just ask. I wrote a paper about it for David Wray last year, and since I got an A in the class, it means I'm right, right?

    I'll even let you use it in your book ;)

    All joking aside, I think this is a powerful "spiritual discipline" that needs to be reclaimed. Can't wait for the book to come out.

    By the way, is this the topic of the book that's bursting out you?

    In case no one else mentions it, you should write a book about this!

    By Blogger Greg Kendall-Ball, at 9/08/2004 12:56:00 PM  

  • The notion of the power of prayer (the atomic bomb idea) is one that is intriguing, awe-inspiring, and guilt-producing (because I don't pray nearly enough) all at the same time.

    Oddly enough, I am in the midst of reading the OT prophets, and you are of course right. What a world, what a mission they are called to! I cannot say that I am ready for that - to marry a whore; to encourage people to surrender to the enemy that will take my country; to go to Ninevah and preach.

    God help me to be a better servant.

    Speaking of books, I'm guessing that you've read Boyd's take on imagination and prayer.

    Jonathan

    By Blogger jds, at 9/08/2004 01:49:00 PM  

  • Mike,

    You may have "left behind" some blog readers today with your pregnant polemic. Powerful stuff! I'm charged!

    By Blogger David Michael, at 9/08/2004 01:55:00 PM  

  • The thing that has made reading scripture new again for me is The Message. I can get past preconceived ideas and imageries when I read this newer translation. But my imagination is sometimes very lacking. Thanks for the reminder to let the word live in us...

    By Blogger DJG, at 9/08/2004 01:59:00 PM  

  • Sometimes I wonder what our prayers and prayer lives would be like if we really believed that when we pray, we have the ear of God - for as long as we want it! He doesn't tap his foot or check his watch or interject, "Uh - you've said that already."

    The God who created the universe ... listens when I talk -- and even when I can't. And he wants to teach me to listen. It's amazing. And I fail to see how I can let my prayers become so monotone and formulaic if I truly believe that we are in the presence of God, before his throne. Makes it harder to be cavalier and casual about it, too, if I realize I'm stepping into the holy of holies, the presence of God.

    So I pray God reminds me of that, because it fills me with wonder. And that wonder tends to become the lens through which I see the world - as long as I'm willing to remember.

    By Blogger Q, at 9/08/2004 03:06:00 PM  

  • My mother once said that she liked to hear me talk. (That's good, because I like to talk)
    I imagine that God likes to hear me talk, likes to hear my take on things that happen, even though he watched it take place. Maybe if I shut up a minute, I can hear him and get his take on the situation!

    By Blogger That Girl, at 9/08/2004 03:33:00 PM  

  • Q - the image of incense-filled golden bowls being our prayers before God never ceases to astound me. Not only does God, the Creator of the Universe for goodness sakes, not only does He listen to my rambling, but He considers my prayers as sweet incense. I'm constantly amazed at the enormity of His love for me.

    By Blogger Kathy, at 9/08/2004 08:42:00 PM  

  • When I have children, I doubt I'll try and extinguish their imagination. Heck my imagination is still active as ever which makes me seem weird and my humor is not understood. Oh well.

    Inspiring thoughts about the Bible reading us. Doug Pagitt said, "We don't try and teach the Bible in a relevant way, we see if we are relevant to the story of God."

    By Blogger c, at 9/09/2004 07:08:00 AM  

  • When I have children, I doubt I'll try and extinguish their imagination. Heck my imagination is still active as ever which makes me seem weird and my humor is not understood. Oh well.

    Inspiring thoughts about the Bible reading us. Doug Pagitt said, "We don't try and teach the Bible in a relevant way, we see if we are relevant to the story of God."

    By Blogger c, at 9/09/2004 07:08:00 AM  

  • Along these same lines, perhaps, I'd like to hear and study more about the personality of Jesus in scripture. "The Passion of the Christ" helped some with this, but I fully believe that Jesus did not speak with in a monotonous, British accent as he has been depicted in other films. I believe he used humor--varying degrees of humor and satire--appropriate anger and other widely varied manifestations of being fully human, while being fully God. He would have been a very, very interesting blogger.

    By Blogger Greg, at 9/09/2004 09:23:00 AM  

  • *gasp*

    You mean Jesus wasn't a white guy from Oxford?

    By Blogger Q, at 9/09/2004 09:28:00 AM  

  • great blog today. as one who spent years pursuing a proper understanding of scripture and doctrine (after all, my salvation could depend on it) i'm glad to see understanding being blended with enjoyment and encouragement and challenge. i never really appreciated revelation until, upon an upteenth reading, i had this kind of toddler epiphany...GOD wins! good stuff.

    By Blogger chrismith, at 9/10/2004 05:51:00 AM  

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