Notes from Study No. 9

The use and misuse of Imagination

a.It enables us to use ambiguous words if both senses are true and engage the imagination.

Paul does this a lot. 2 Corinthians 3:18- beholding and reflecting.

2 Corinthians 4:7- are the jars of clay receptacles for treasure or clay lamps containing a source of light? They could be either and the context certainly permits either – the treaure is in fact a message which communicates light.

Romans 5:5 literally ‘the love of Gd has been poured out into our hearts by the Holy Spirit’  (i.e. we love because He first loved us)  (NIV translates too freely here)

b.  The communicator needs new images when old ones lose touch with the imagination

The cliche rarely touches the imagination –

as cool as a cucumber

as cool as a freshly-turned pillow

carrying coals to Newcastle

taking sand to the Sahara

sending Royalties to JK Rowling

c. We need to avoid certain dangers in our appeal to the imagination

Bad uses of the imagination –

1. The use of the word ‘ imagination’ in the Bible – somebody wrote an essay on this.

2. Children and others picking up messages not intended – the artist probably just giving a little variety

`Jesus and the Children of the world` – African boy on floor and naked

– unintended – cf. David Ellis and Indonesia.

What message do we send?

Employing the whole personality

3. The moral of a tale needs careful consideration –

Two contrasting examples – the moral of Brief Encounter– the husband at home was loving, caring, gentle- but dull!

cf and ct Daphne Du Maurier`s Rebecca Acting, over-acting and under-acting. Rebecca – and Laurence Olivier and Joan Fonteyn, playing the `dull` woman – she is so dull that she is not even given a name.  with Rebecca and Mrs Danvers. Mr de Winter, Mrs Van Hopper.

The brilliant casting- Olivier, Fonteyn, George Sanders, Colonel Julyan, the poor daft man.

Malcolm Maclean and the books that sell and the books that change people.

The importance of different penetration levels, including imaginative penetration.

Gk Chesterton – The Man who was Thursday – his definition of a paradox = a truth standing on its head to abstract attention.

The place of the imagination in  Psychology- right and left sides of the brain.

`Tomorrow`s eggs are still in the hens`

Kruschen`s Salts – `every picture tells a story`

George Macdonald and the imagination

1. To give vividness

2. To establish types

3. To stimulate anticipation

The Book of the Revelation.

It has been said that “cameras and eyes are blind; it is only minds that see” and, of course, it is the imaginative faculty of those mind . cf the photogaph and the painting.

Images are provided by the imagination and analysed by the intellect. We recall much better what has entered our imaginations deeply.

The unimaginative view that anthropomorphism is primitive. It is anything but.  Is Isaiah 40 primitive? OT is full of anthropmorphisms.

The picture language of the abstract passage in Ephesians 1.

Moving between two worlds – “Brief Encounter” “Youth”  “Midsummer Night`s Dream”, Shakespeare’s play within a play.

Lost Horizon – an imagined world, based perhaps on the story told by Sadhu Sundar Singh and Central Asia. In both cases the age was 300.

Transfer from one medium mto another. So Stravinsky`s conroversial Rite of Spring, based on a pagan ritual dance, was turned into a pictured representation of the evolution of life on earth by Walt Disney in Fantasia. It apparently started in the mind of a Russian artist, Nicholas Roerich, who influneced Stravinsky. So it was in three artistic forms, the picture, the music, the animated cartoon.  So it really went back to its original visual form.

Various levels of penetration ofthe Bible.

Devotional Bible reading is moving between two or three horizons.

In some ways the Spirit of God does this for us or through us.

Psalm 107 and the stories or the art galleries – a book of short stories.

 

The use of pictures in Bible types – Kings, Priests, Prophets,. etc.

The need to interpret accurately – the Ambassador today and in the Roman world.

IMAGINATION- GOD’S GREAT GIFT TO THE CHRISTIAN WRITER  

1.  The Psychology of imagination and of thought

a. How thought develops

b. The two sides of the brain

c. Are we programmed for learning languages (L.Chomsky) and music (L. Bernstein)? If so, God has done this for us.

d. The need to stimulate the imagination.

2. Various means of imaginative communication

Effective communication needs the imagination. Children begin by learning through pictures and stories, but at every age the imagination should be engaged in the processes of learning.

a. Communication through the visual arts (Picasso, Rembrandt, Holman Hunt, Millais)

b. Communication through drama, films, etc.

c. Communication through music (Storm music of Beethoven and Berlioz; the minor keys)

d. Verbal communication (GK Chesterton, the egg producers, Isaiah 40)

e. Unconscious communication (body language, etc.)

3. Scripture’s constant appeal to the Imagination

a. Its great drama  (Gen 22 and 44-45; the storm in Job 36:22-38:1, Luke and `Jerusalem`, yet in Matt 27:35: `when they had crucified Him`)

b. Its great characterisation (David in 1 and 2 Samuel)

c. Its great preaching – (Amos- repetition; Hosea- illustrations; Jesus – parables)

d. Its great illustrative richness (Pss 40:1-3; 107:1ff; Isa 1:4,14,24; 46:1-4; 53:11,12;

e. The concrete basis of many of Scripture’s great theological terms (Eph 1:3-14)

f.  Devotional Bible reading moves between multiple horizons through God`s Spirit.

4. The functions of imagination in our communication

a. It enables us to present truth in vivid, memorable and challenging ways

(Psa 1:3,4; 2 Samuel 12:1-7)

b. It enables us to move between two or more worlds (C.S .Lewis`s Narnia stories, Conrad`s `Youth`; Shakespeare`s use of a play within a play; parables set in the story of Jesus)

c. It enables us to present truth through the unexpected

(G.K.Chesterton: `The Man who was Thursday`; F.Barclay: `The Following of the Star`; Luke 18:9-14; Isa 5:1-7 and Mk 12:1-12)

d. It enables us to use ambiguity if both senses are true and engage the imagination

(2 Cor 3:18; 4:7; Rom 5:5)

e. Communicators need new images when old ones lose touch with the imagination

(`as cool as a  ….. freshly-turned pillow`, `taking ice to theArctic`)

f. We must be careful not to convey unhelpful messages (`Brief Encounter` and `Rebecca`; the picture, `Jesus and the Children of the world`)

Imagination – God`s great gift to the Christian Writer

1.  The Psychology of imagination and of thought

How does thought develop? This has been much discussed by philosophers and psychologists. There must be the capacity for thought to begin with, then we move through sense-perception to mental images and then to abstraction. We relate object, images and ideas to each other in terms of comparison and contrast, cause and effect, etc. .

There is much interest today in the 2 sides of the brain. The right   concerned with the images and the other (left) with the abstractions, the one synthetic and the other analytical.

We need both. `Cameras and eyes are blind; it is only minds that see` – images interpreted by the mind. Imagination is a constant feeder for the intellect and also it contributes greatly to the act of remembering  – often we recall more easily what has found its way deeply into our imagination.

e.g. Greek, a. lnstns, the iota subscript and the thief –

b. prosopon – `what you put the soap on`.

Noam Chomsky – we are programmed to learn languages – similar patterns in language – younger we are the easier it is. It is God who does it for us. Bernstein and music.

We need to have imagination challenged – can atrophy, like an unused limb

`I like radio better than television; the pictures are better` – literature better still –

Development of TV made some people think hard about the nature, role and effects of media

M. McLuhan – `The Medium is the Message` – you cannot completely separate the two.

Malcolm Muggeridge`s views on TV were largely influenced by McLuhan

V. Packard, `The Hidden Persuaders` – the misuse of TV in subliminal communication

2. Various means of imaginative communication

Effective communication needs the imagination – from the imagination of the teacher to that of the taught. My advice to LBC student about reading CS Lewis.

Children – learning through pictures – and stories –

sometimes pictures tell a story – `Kruschen`s salts `Every picture tells a story`

The Willow plate – it is a picture but it also tells a story

The radio Wind in the Willows -Derek McCulloch as the mole, etc.

Visual arts– the most obvious way —

Our love of pictures – 1945-1950 – a period without pictures on the walls of many homes – they came back.

Lessons from pictures -Guernica by Picasso .

H. Rookmaaker, `Modern Art and the Death of a Culture`

Some of Rookmaaker`s examples – how despair has taken over.

Contrast Rembrandt – sets the Christian story in Dutch homes – Christ is relevant to us, by . bridging two dimensions

Victorian Bible Pictures – Gustav Dore

Holman Hunt – 3 pictures of the Cross – this is two artists!!!

The Sermon on the Mount – illustrating literature in visual form – the just and the unjust.

Drama, Films, etc.

Will say little about this because wanting to use this to illustrate a later point.

But this is obvious

It is probable that many people today learn moral lessons from the TV Soap operas – sexual morality and lack of concern for truth.

Music can communicate by creating pictures for the imagination

Musical use of the imagination – programme music and also abstract music which nevertheless creates pictures

Beethoven and Berlioz and storms

Verbal communication

GK Chesterton `a paradox is `a truth standing on its head to attract attention`

The Egg producers – `All our eggs are fresh` `Tomorrow`s eggs are still in the hens`

Belshazzar`s Feast and Bob Hepburn`s sermon

Isaiah 40 and the anthropomorphisms

3. Scripture`s constant appeal to the Imagination

`God has given us a book full of stories, which was made for His people of old garden, city of gold. Jesus taught His truths by the use of parables.

CS Lewis picturing God using His imagination – `Let us imagine that this is our Son` – and He begins to work towards making him like that.

Great writing in the Bible – especially the OT –

great drama – Genesis 22, Genesis 44-45.

great characterisation – David in 1 and 2 Samuel

great preaching – Amos and the hammer blow

The climax in the Bible – emphasis, etc.. Emphasising what the Bible emphasises.

First really aware of this with Psalm 40:1-3  – D.Macdonald

Isaiah 1 – the burden bearer – Isaiah 46:1-4 and 63:9 but the ultimate in Isaiah 53.

Development of images of Christ throughout Isaiah.

`arm of the Lord`

The way the storm brews up in Job

The picture language of Ephesians

Various levels of penetration in the Bible.

Devotional Bible reading is moving between two or three horizons.

In some ways the Spirit of God does this for us or through us.

Psalm 107 and the stories or the art galleries – a book of short stories.

The use of pictures in Bible types – Kings, Priests, Prophets,. etc.

The need to interpret accurately – the Ambassador today and in the Roman world.

4. The functions of imagination in our communication

a. It enables us to present truth in vivid, memorable and challenging ways

Not abstract but concrete – 3 types of art – the realistic, the symbolic and the abstract – think this through. Often conveys more than the abstract – so must be careful – e.g. Ps. 1:3 – what about the bark, the sap, etc.?

Kenneth Bailey and the illocutionary function of parables.

The three vineyard parables – 2 in Isaiah and one in Mark – 2 of these are confrontational – what about the central. one? Give examples from Kenneth Bailey – knowing the culture.

b. It enables us to move between two or more worlds

Moving between 2 worlds – `Brief Encounter`

`Youth`

Shakespeare’s Play within a play and our own world.

Lost Horizon andShangri La.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

The Wizard of Oz

In the Gospels – the parables of Jesus set within the story of Jesus set within the meta-narrative of the whole of Scripture.

c. It enables us to present truth through the unexpected

Some fascinating stories where we find that the author actually fools us and tantalises us by confusing us – e.g. G.K.Chesterton, The Man who was Thursday

Jesus and the stories with a twist at the end – Kenneth Bailey, `Poet and Peasant and Through Peasant Eyes` – Parables in Luke. See also Pharisee and the Tax-Collector

Also the Parable of the Vineyard in Isaiah 5 – then  also in Mark 12 – the tenants now become important.