Silencing Creativity in the Name of Reason at the Expense of Humanity

7/9/24

Christian apologetics exists to defend the faith from erroneous although imaginative arguments. It’s no wonder why apologists hold human imagination with severe suspicion. But as implied, it’s not the imagination itself that should be held in question, it’s the irrational and/or unscrupulous use of it, which has a tendency to smuggle in self-serving desires, which serve to emotionally manipulate others and indoctrinate the interlocutor even further. This warrants a response from the apologist, similar to the response given by the incredulous Ebenezer Scrooge in the opening stave in Dickens’s A Christmas Carol: “There’s more gravy than of grave about you.”

This line is a pun used to explain the existence of Marley’s ghost before him. What Scrooge and our apologist are creatively saying is, “There’s more [imagination] than of [reality] about you.” (In Scrooge’s case, his over-dependence on what he can prove to be real with his senses turns out to be untrue. His own line can be turned against him: “There’s more [imagination to your materialism] than of [reality] about you.”)

To continue with the story as it applies to truth and imagination, Dickens masterfully invents a cautionary tale, an imaginative journey whereby his leading protagonist is shown psychologically disturbing reels of his own life—past, present, and future—to expose the truth about societal norms and human nature: being unsympathetic to those suffering from social inequality hurts us all, from rich to poor, from rational to imaginative.

The piquant parallel between rational apologists and those hard-nosed, investment-banking, data-crunchers like Scrooge is that they sometimes come across as aloof to the emotions of others. Of course, this is not necessarily the case. Rational apologetics can be applied relationally by anyone for anyone and to anyone with empathy, concern, and compassion for their overall well-being. But it’s the perception that I’m concerned with, what comes off as calculated and cold like the line associated with Sgt. Joe Friday: “Just the facts ma’am.”

Continuing in the same vein of suspicion toward imagination, we do it at the expense of understanding a pregnant wisdom about humanity that cannot be dealt with at Planned Parenthood. This twin-carrying Truth with two heartbeats (reason and imagination), beating as one, longs to be picked up, interacted with, and never placed back down.

From atop a great mountain, Truth grows and speaks as if speaking to a dear friend: “Do you see the battle happening down there? That’s a spiritual battle. Every human being that’s ever lived has had to pick a side, wittingly or not… What side, say you? What side do you fight for?” Truth stops talking to peer down the other side of the mountain. “Look over there. Do you see them frolicking on a field all to themselves with a tree in the midst of it all and two streams running beside it? That’s the spoils of battle not easily acquired. Our King is a mighty warrior of Truth who knows when it’s time to play and rest with those who fight for more than just the Truth. For Truth without Love is a legalistic battle that, if won, will serve to fuel the data-driven minds of people bent on engaging in quodlibets and debates while the praxis of the Truth and Love of Christ is a battle already won.”[1]

[1] This monologue is inspired by Aslan’s playfulness with Susan and Lucy in Narnia after He’s resurrected.

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Christian apologetics exists to defend the faith from erroneous although imaginative arguments. It’s no wonder why apologists hold human imagination with severe suspicion. But as implied, it’s not the imagination itself that should be held in question, it’s the irrational and/or unscrupulous use of it, which has a tendency to smuggle in self-serving desires, which…

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