A Christian Imagination for Contemporary Times

A Christian Imagination for Contemporary Times

Photo Credit: Kiwihug via Unsplash

Communicating timeless truths to the modern world

By Isabel Padolina and Jonas Cardenas, Logos Editor

Today, we live in dynamic mass societies that are becoming increasingly secularized and digitized. Despite all that modernity has to offer, even with each technological or lifestyle advancement, people are still searching for meaning. Each person, animated by this desire for meaning, has the choice to attach themselves to contending philosophies, spiritualties, and worldviews that offer value and purpose to their existence. We live in pluralistic societies, which allow us to borrow and appropriate a vast range of ideas from different frameworks for our disposal, to work toward the common good. 

One deficiency, however, of pluralistic and modern outlooks is the possible obscuring of truth. One major cause of this obscurity is the philosophy of relativism, a denial of objective truths and values located within aesthetic, intellectual, and moral domains. Religious belief presupposes an objective framework that can be identified, albeit in a limited sense defined by divine and scriptural revelation. Though religion may offer answers and alternatives to modern proposals, a large proportion of people, particularly the young, feel alienated or apathetic toward religious experience. 

The Christian conviction has a unique salvific and creative message that is universal at once to each person, place, and time; an encounter of transformation and renewal through the person of the God-Man. Imagination is a powerful faculty of the human condition that is an avenue to greater truths. Through works of art and culture, we can intuit those truths and values inherent in the Christian message; that is, notions of creation, fall, redemption, salvation, hope, and love, among other values. 

Look around you. The Christian message is sprinkled throughout society and the world, evident in literature, art, music—whether people realize it or not. One should first appreciate and receive art and culture for what it is before looking for the Christian message. This way, the viewer is able to better appreciate the overall piece and moreover, how the Christian message shines through the work. Many Christianity and Culture courses showcase this idea that the Christian message is not just in religion, but also in popular culture, science, art, architecture, and philosophy. The professors in these courses reveal just how intertwined Christianity is with culture and how it manifests throughout history. 

The Christian imagination is not always explicit, nor should it be. Just as good literature is complex and makes the reader think, so too is the Christian imagination. Take, for instance, The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien; a book taught in a Christianity and Culture course this semester. On the surface, The Hobbit appears to be a children’s novel, and one that for many is quite enjoyable. However, if one looks further, there are parallels with Christianity to discover in the novel. The fantasy that Tolkien creates becomes a way to appreciate reality, and this is what the Christian imagination does: it helps people to be more grateful for the world they live in.