River Wissey Lovell Fuller

Anglican Newsletter

December 2008

Keith bemonas the lack of imagination.

Once upon a time, within a time, within a heart,

There lived an apple seed that didn't know where or how to grow.

This apple seed lived in the deepest part of the deep inside,Where the soul springs bubble and the breathwind blows.

And there was something that the apple seed knew that it knew

But it was very small - just a little bloop

And it didn't feel very important or capable of much.

Still it dreams, in the dark, of blossoms and swings

- of fruit magic - of leaf music - impossible things!

You know it's difficult, sometimes, for an apple seed

To really believe in leaves!

Because when you're a seed that lives underground

And even more so, when you're a seed that lives deep inside,Leaves, even tiny leaves, are - wings!

Imagine! Growing right up through the ground out of the earth!

Imagine growing up, shooting up so high

that you can spread out velvety green leaves

and fly around, in the wind and the sun

way up, inches above the ground!

It's too unbelievable!!

I think most of us have run out of imagination. We circumscribe our imaginations by what we see on television. We are presented with so many unbelievable facts and images and behaviours and ... that we have little scope left to do our own imagining. The entertainment industry, of course, has realised this and provides us with even more unimaginable, unbelievable things to grapple with to keep us happy. So we can gorge ourselves us on trite, childish Merlin stories and play out fantasies on computer games for hours and hours a day - all to make sure we don't have to think for ourselves. We have fewer and fewer deep conversations where we argue (not fight, but actively discuss), we spend less and less time reading books that test our knowledge and abilities. I was amazed, only this week, to see a medical student on the Weakest Link (I really don't usually watch this!) who thought that Venice must on the coast of the Indian Ocean. This is surely the sort of information that an educated (maybe he did not need to be educated to get into university to study medicine) person would have at their finger tips?

I suppose I am sounding like an old fashioned, reactionary, right wing, stick-in-the-mud Colonel Blimp who should shut up and quietly get on with getting out of this world as quickly as I can. But I know that I am not. I have voted Labour more than for any other party in General Elections, although not necessarily always. My upbringing and life style is sort of lower middle class. I do believe that I am well educated, but that is because people could be when I was a boy and an adolescent. Passing exams and obtaining qualifications was not what it was all about. When are we going to stop asking employers what they want children to study, in order to make them employable? Surely we should be educating our children to lead good and fruitful lives. That obviously requires that they should be able to read, write and count, which helps when you ask for a job (and so many now cannot do those things), but that is not education. Teachers are forced (and unfortunately themselves taught only) to work from and not outside syllabuses and curriculums (I know the proper Latin plurals of these words, but to use them would be pretentious). My Latin teacher at school required us to translate articles from a Sunday paper into Latin every Monday morning. We were thereby led into reading some current affairs or sport or criticism and to stretch our minds to understand what some of the English really meant, as we struggled to find ways of getting modern thoughts into archaic limited linguistic concepts. That was education, not preparation for exams. Obviously I could go on (and do elsewhere).

Atheists are presumably not prepared to admit the possibility of something existing outside their experience or imagination. I suspect that most atheists are not really atheist, but have not been able (very understandably) to get a sufficiently firm shape to their thoughts of what is outside their experience and imagination. That would suggest that they are truly agnostic. Atheists know there is no God, Agnostics don't know if there is one, or, if there is one, what God is. I find that fully understandable, but a shame. In that position, it is really rather important to try to find out a little more. What risks are you running if there is a powerful God and you get your relationship with him so wrong that the next time he intervenes in your life, he seriously dumps you?

You can tell what I am getting at, of course, but I don't want to push it too far or too fast. I believe that there are many people, educated in spite of the pressures around us just to learn 'useful' (and probably boring) things and nothing else, with a live imagination in spite of the attempts of the entertainment industry to stop us thinking at all, who could really valuably devote more time to reading and talking and thinking and just imagining (even day-dreaming). Doing enough of this inevitably leads to intelligent grappling with questions of religion among all the other aspects of life that we should engage with. Religion and especially the Christian religion is, of course, my bag. I think that I and those who think like I do are not doing enough to engage with you and those who would like to find out more. I think that our formal worship and Church services, etc are good for us who are within the circle, but are often an obstruction to those who are outside.

So I complain about how everyone else is doing their thing and how much, as a society, we are dumbing down, but I do recognize that, where I stand, we are also letting down all those who would appreciate some intelligent and open and imaginative communication. But nothing will work if we cannot imagine as wonderfully as that little apple seed.

Licensed Lay Minister

Keith MacLeod

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