Meditations on the Imagination Redeemed 2019

Glen Eyrie, a castle in the mountains.
Glen Eyrie

On Monday morning, I flew back to New England from the Imagination Redeemed conference in Colorado Springs – exhausted, full, and inspired. The conference was hosted by the Anselm Society, which hopes to spark a “renaissance of the Christian imagination” – a new understanding between the Church and the arts of how we can glorify God through visual art, music, literature, poetry, theater, and dance.

The conference was a feast of wisdom and fellowship. Scholars, artists, teachers, and writers discussed re-enchanting the church, medieval cosmology, sacred art, the moral imagination, writing as image-bearing, and more. I had wonderful talks with fellow attendees – writers, artists, ballet teachers, graduate students, opera singers, and others – about their work.

I’m tired. The richness of ideas and insights was overwhelming, and the red-eye return left me barely holding onto consciousness (my first all-nighter ever). But I’m also encouraged and inspired to meet so many people who are doing what I want to do, or share my ambitions: to glorify God through my art, to create and cultivate beauty, to share wisdom and joy through retelling God’s story.

I’ll probably reference the conference many times in future blog posts, but for now, I’ll share some of the goals the conference inspired:

Write – Heidi White’s talk about creating art inspired me to pour out essays, short stories, and books with greater courage, even if my words are only read by a few, because I’m not writing for my own fame or glory, but God’s. Lanier Ivester’s sonnet-writing workshop encouraged me to capture the inexpressible with imagery and challenge myself to greater creativity with meter and rhyme. Lancia Smith’s discussion of writing as image-bearing motivated me to bear or “bring forth” transcendent truths in stories.

Explore how my doctrinal beliefs shape me and my art – Though all the speakers were Christians, many came from an Anglican or Catholic background and discussed doctrines or practices that are outside of my faith tradition, including sacramental theology, a division between the clergy and the laity, and liturgy. Though Christians are all united by the blood of Christ and the Holy Spirit, doctrinal differences like these do shape our thinking and behavior. I want to explore my own theological framework to ensure that it is Biblically grounded and see how it affects my imagination, writing, and life choices.

Connect with other artists – I had so much fun meeting people who spoke my language, who know and love the same stories, who have similar dreams and challenges. Though I can travel to connect with other artists and writers, I would love to engage in that community here in New England, where geographical closeness makes it easier to build relationships.

Study – The speakers introduced me to so many fascinating ideas: musica mundana (medieval cosmology – “the music of the spheres”), kairos vs. chronos time, and more. I want to relearn Latin, study New Testament Greek, and read dozens of books and articles – a huge task, but all things I can accomplish eventually.

Engage with the Word – Junius Johnson, one of the speakers, encouraged artists and theologians to intentionally connect with each other. Theology is one of the best sources of inspiration, and art is a beautiful way to worship. I want to study the Bible deeply, reverently, and joyfully to better express God’s love and wisdom in my writing.

After learning so much and meeting so many wonderful people at the conference, I got to enjoy the beauty of Colorado Springs: Pike’s Peak shining with snow above the dark ridges of other mountains; Glen Eyrie castle tucked in a green valley; the Garden of the Gods, huge red rocks towering over the hills.

But it’s good to come home. In New England, soft pink buds are opening in the cherry trees, and new leaves are coming out in Scottish green. I’m tired, but full – eager to learn, to study, and to write stories of yearning.

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