Moral Imagination – Lifting Domes

Tulips at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum May 20, 2019

I’m still trying to sort through the sermons and lectures I heard last week at the Festival of Homiletics, which was held in Minneapolis. This year’s topic was Moral Imagination. That made for a heavy week given the critical issues we are experiencing in our nation. Whether it is Climate Change or the moral authority of our nation’s leaders, we were challenged again and again, to be people who are seekers of justice. To not only talk about justice, but to do justice.  After all,  Cynthia Hale reminded us “When we don’t take care of the poor, God takes it personally.”

To get to the point of creative  moral imagination Brian McLaren  lifted up the use of film, specifically science fiction.   He talked about the “Domes we live under,” and how those domes limit our ability to see what God can do.   He told us to use our imagination to lift up domes we perceive as reality, reminding people that “What seems impossible now, is possible with God.”  He pointed to the producers of science fiction and how they were able to tackle social issues, through movies. I must admit that those thoughts had escaped me about movies he mentioned. For instance “Planet of the Apes,”  produced during the civil rights era,  was a way to encourage us to see ourselves as a minority, building bridges of understanding.

The TV series “Lost is Space,”  showed how it was possible to live with a difficult character who had sabotaged the family’s outer space mission and not kill him. I came away with an appreciation for the power of science fiction to lift people out of entrenched ideas. The writers of those programs used imagination to help us see what is difficult to see when we are stuck in our own limited vision of reality.

Tulips bursting into color at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum May 20, 2019

While, I’m still processing the many speakers, I grabbed the chance to visit the MN Landscape Arboretum yesterday. Beauty has a way of allowing our hearts to rest and restore our souls, sort through our confusions and penetrate the disarray. It binds us across our political, religious, ethnic and racial  differences, creating a common bond of  appreciation for the good gifts of God’s creation.    Beauty allows us to get outside of ourselves for a time.   In its own way, it lifts the dome of our creative and moral imaginations, letting God break in with new thoughts and new understandings.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5