Creative Visualisation, Imagination and Aesthetics

Having prompted Mark Berry to explore a theology of the imagination earlier tonight it has occured to me that I should actually make some of own thoughts available for scrutiny. Unfortunately it’s late so I’ll have to be brief and revisit the topic at a later date.

So here’s a rough synopsis.

I see the question of whether Christians can practice creative visualisation with integrity or not as deeply related to the iconoclasm controversies. Use of imagination and use of icons – it all has to do with image, aesthetics, artistry and creativity.

Now, iconoclasts are quick to point out scriptural injunctions against idols and our capacity for self delusion and rightly so. Yet our our imaginations are God given and not irredemable. Just as the Spirit can use art to inspire I believe the Spirit can also use our imaginations. After all, it wouldn’t be the first time, just read the Revelation of John. The issue then is one of discernment – of neither smothering our dreams, visions and imaginings nor leaving them untested. In short I place creative visualisation in the same category as hypnotherapy – as something that can be potentially helpful or potentially harmful depending on how it is used.

Actually that’s not my final word as I’d like to say more about incarnational theology but it’ll have to wait. I’ll post some relevant links and further thoughts in due course but in the meantime you might find these snippets of interest:

Aesthetic Faithfulness Isn’t Optional: A Review of Imagine, Visual Faith, and The Creative Life.

Religious Imagination and Religious Knowing

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