Sunday, March 21, 2010

Social Imaginary

I am reading a book by James K. A. Smith entitled "Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview, and Cultural Formation". Part of what he is discussing in this section is what causes us act and make decisions the way that we do. He states that "what we think about is just the tip of the iceberg and cannot fully or adequately account for how or why we make our way in the world. There's something else and and something more rumbling beneath the cognitive that drives much of our action and behavior." He calls this "Social Imaginary". Another author, Charles Taylor, defines this as "the way ordinary people 'imagine' their social surroundings, which is not expressed in theoretical terms, but is carried in images, stories and legends."

More from Smith:
A social imaginary is not how we think about the world, but how we imagine the world before we ever think about it; hence the social imaginary is made up of the stuff that funds the imagination -- stories, myths, pictures, narritives. Furthermore, such stories are always already communal and traditioned. There are no private stories: every narrative draws upon tellings that have been handed down (traditio). So the imaginary is social in two ways: on the one hand, it is a social phenomenon received from and shared with others; on the other hand, it is a vision of and for social life -- a vision of what counts as human flourishing, what counts as meaningful relationships, what counts as "good" families, and so forth.

So, that being said, the logical question is: How are we helping our children form their "social imaginary"? What stories, narratives, etc are we sharing to create this? We have been given our children for a short time and it is critical for us to help them build this "vision of what counts as human flourishing, what counts as meaningful relationships, what counts as "good" families, and so forth."

Thursday, October 22, 2009

More words from Dallas Willard...

From Revolution of Character:

Concretely, we live in the kingdom of God by intending to obey the example and teachings of Jesus. This is the form that trust in him takes. It does not take the form of merely believing things about him, however true they may be. Indeed, no one can actually believe the truth about him without intending to obey him. It is a mental impossibility. To think otherwise is to indulge a widespread illusion that now smothers spiritual formation among professing Christians.

The idea that you can trust Christ for the hereafter but have no intention to obey him now is an illusion generated by a widespread unbelieving "Christian culture." In fact, you can no more trust Jesus and not intend to obey him than you can trust your doctor and not intend to follow his or her advice. If you don't intend to follow the advice, you simply don't trust the person.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Why don't we change?

I was on my way home from small group Sunday night thinking about the fact that making a change in just about anything is difficult. Careers, city in which you live, friends, schools, behaviors….whatever it is, change is not easy. I remember several years back hearing something like the following: “people are not willing to make change until the pain of their current situation outweighs the perceived pain of the change” – this was related to the sales process. I believe this relates to change in general.

In this case, I was thinking about change in behaviors. If you want to lose weight, you need to change your diet and put some effort into working out – or as I have been know to say “close your mouth and get on the treadmill.” If you want be more productive at work, you need to make some change to the little behaviors such as time management. But what about changes of a spiritual nature? What if we want to live the life that we are told about in John 10:10 – “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” Do we continue going on living life as we always have expecting to magically have our life “to the full”? There’s a saying that “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing you’ve always done but expecting different results”. It is going to take change.

Why was I thinking about change coming back from small group? Because we are going through Francis Chan’s “Crazy Love” and he calls us to read and the DO something about it. So when the tough question is asked “how is your life different as a result of reading this chapter” – the common answer is, “it’s not”. Why is this?? Pride? Laziness? Fear? Self-sufficiency? Comfort?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Prayer: legalism, duty, life

This is from a blog that I read regularly ( ....

John Piper:

But the hard truth is that most Christians don’t pray very much. They pray at meals—unless they’re still stuck in the adolescent stage of calling good habits legalism. They whisper prayers before tough meetings. They say something brief as they crawl into bed. But very few set aside set times to pray alone—and fewer still think it is worth it to meet with others to pray. And we wonder why our faith is weak. And our hope is feeble. And our passion for Christ is small.

And meanwhile the devil is whispering all over this room: “The pastor is getting legalistic now. He’s starting to use guilt now. He’s getting out the law now.” To which I say, “To hell with the devil and all of his destructive lies. Be free!” Is it true that intentional, regular, disciplined, earnest, Christ-dependent, God-glorifying, joyful prayer is a duty? . . . Is it a discipline?

You can call it that.

  • It’s a duty the way it’s the duty of a scuba diver to put on his air tank before he goes underwater.
  • It’s a duty the way pilots listen to air traffic controllers.
  • It’s a duty the way soldiers in combat clean their rifles and load their guns.
  • It’s a duty the way hungry people eat food.
  • It’s a duty the way thirsty people drink water.
  • It’s a duty the way a deaf man puts in his hearing aid.
  • It’s a duty the way a diabetic takes his insulin.
  • It’s a duty the way Pooh Bear looks for honey.
  • It’s a duty the way pirates look for gold.

I hate the devil, and the way he is killing some of you by persuading you it is legalistic to be as regular in your prayers as you are in your eating and sleeping and Internet use. Do you not see what a sucker he his making out of you? He is laughing up his sleeve at how easy it is to deceive Christians about the importance of prayer.

God has given us means of grace. If we do not use them to their fullest advantage, our complaints against him will not stick. If we don’t eat, we starve. If we don’t drink, we get dehydrated. If we don’t exercise a muscle, it atrophies. If we don’t breathe, we suffocate. And just as there are physical means of life, there spiritual are means of grace. Resist the lies of the devil in 2009, and get a bigger breakthrough in prayer than you’ve ever had.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Jesus as "The Way"

I just started reading "The Jesus Way, a conversation on the ways that Jesus is the way" by Eugene Peterson. Just in the introduction, I found this quote:

Here is a text, words spoken by Jesus, that keeps this in clear focus: "I am the way , and the truth, and the life" (John 14:6). The Jesus way wedded to the Jesus truth brings about the Jesus life. We can't proclaim the Jesus truth but then do it any old way we like. Nor can we follow the Jesus way without speaking the Jesus truth.

But Jesus as the truth gets far more attention than Jesus as the way. Jesus as the way is the most frequently evaded metaphor among the Christians with whom I have worked for fifty years as a North American pastor. In the text that Jesus sets before us so clearly and definitively, the way comes first. We cannot skip the way of Jesus in our hurry to get the truth of Jesus as he is worshiped and proclaimed. The way of Jesus is the way that we practice and come to understand the truth of Jesus, living Jesus in our homes and workplaces, with our friends and family.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

living it out...

I'm wrestling with the words of Soren Kierkegaard....

The matter is quite simple. The Bible is very easy to understand. But we Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers. We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand, we are obliged to act accordingly. Take any words in the New Testament and forget everything except pledging yourself to act accordingly. My God, you will say, if I do that my whole life will be ruined. How would I ever get on in the world? Herein lies the real place of Christian scholarship. Christian scholarship is the Church's prodigious invention to defend itself against the Bible, to ensure that we can continue to be good Christians without the Bible coming too close. Oh, priceless scholarship, what would we do without you? Dreadful it is to fall into the hands of the living God. Yes, it is even dreadful to be alone with the New Testament.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


I was struck once again by the words of 1 John 2:6
"whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked."

do i really do this?