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Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.

Turning on Your Imaginative Powers

Malcolm Guite's little book can help.

Malcolm Guite’s little book, Lifting the Veil: Imagination and the Kingdom of God, challenges artists and others who employ the imagination to make better use of it than we are at present. Presumably, his list would include writers of all kinds, pastors, teachers, and perhaps especially, parents. Guite explains that imagination is a valid and important means of knowing because it can awaken the mind from the familiar – from what Coleridge referred to as “the lethargy of custom” – into new realms and perspectives of thought. Imagination “allows us to grasp the whole, the meaning, the pattern in what we perceive, to draw the lines that connects [sic] the dots to glimpse the patterns that suddenly make sense of disparate and apparently random things.”

Imagination must be integrated into Jesus to do its job well, since all things are of, through, and unto Him. Guite offers examples from poetry and the arts to show how imagination takes familiar things and launches them beyond “the veil” of things unseen so that those realities become awesome and palpable to us as they are focused in the Person and work of Jesus Christ. He writes, “It is the special gift of the imaginative arts to renew that awe in us, to help us see how any place might suddenly become the very gate of heaven.” 

He shows how imagination, grounded in Christ, can bring comfort, inspire love, and most importantly, engender hope. Hope is imagina-tion’s great gift to a world without hope. Thus we should learn to cultivate our imaginative powers, and for this we need the arts. He argues, “It is by the divine art of imagination that we resist the forces at work in our own age, forces of materialism and reductivism that have cast the film of familiarity, ‘the veil of the ordinary’, over God’s world, a world that is, in fact, still radiant with his glory, a glory that the modern, western mindset of domination and materialism has veiled from us.”

Imagination is poetic, moral, and prophetic in its use, and the arts are charged with the task of reviving the imaginations of God’s people, that we might engage the imaginative mind of Christ to remake the world in His image. Guite champions the power of imagination and shows, through poems and art, how it can lift us more fully into the real world of the Kingdom of God. He does not teach us how to develop our imaginative powers as much as encourage us to believe in imagination and seek ways to bring it more consistently into our lives.

This is a fine little book which I expect to consult over and over.

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