Willy Wonka’s Heaven

"If you had asked me this question when I was a second grader, I could have answered this question just as simply as my second grade math problems. “Sin is the problem and everybody is going to hell. Jesus came to offer forgiveness so I would not go to hell but to heaven.” Answering this question was like simple math, no art was needed. I imagine many Christians today might answer in a similar way. The goal of God’s mission is that Christians escape hell by going to heaven. As a second grader living in the United States, I imagined heaven, the escape from hell, as a sort of utopian version of Disney Land meets Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory in Jamaica. While I do fully embrace the promise of heaven, I wonder if God’s healing and mission seeks something broader than simply my escaping hell and getting into a place where I get to satisfy all my desires, or at least eat lots of chocolate." ...  Keep reading

Love stories…

Perhaps what we need in our hyper-media’ed world of hyper-speed change are not more logically reasoned statements of faith and books of doctrine that attempt to address every possible situation is a constantly changing world, but rather a commitment to the two laws that Jesus gave—Love God and love your neighbor—and lots of wonderful stories that speak to our imaginations, showing what that kind of love looks like. ... 

Recovering a sense of amazement…

 For example, in the Narnia series Aslan is not a fictitious representation of the doctrine of God or an abstract picture of God.  Aslan is Aslan.  Nothing more, nothing less.  Yet, in the character of Aslan shines forth something that reminds us of God—a God who is good, but not safe.  It would be going too far to logically align every word and action of Aslan to the Biblical understanding of God.  That’s not the point.  But through Aslan the imagination is able to circumvent a dry and worn-out familiarity with known doctrinal statements about God and recover the sense of amazement, joy, and wonder that comes with a new, unsuspected realization of a truth about God revealed through an imaginative creature, like Aslan. ...  Keep reading

Rehabilitation of the imagination

Some have concluded that Lewis, in writing the Narnia books, intended to write a clear and direct allegory of the Christian story; to teach or preach the Christian message through story.  This is not exactly true.  One of Lewis’ primary objective was to “rehabilitate the modern imagination.”  We live in an age of rapid change, Lewis observed (and if he throught it true more than half a century ago, we can only imagine what he would say about the current rate of change in our version of the modern world), and “media’ed experience.”  Even in an age before computers, tablets and cell phones Lewis observed that people mostly live in a world created by humanity rather than the natural world.  Great numbers of people have little interaction on any kind of regular basis with the natural world.  This change of environment from past generation and eras has brought with it massive changes in the default settings of thinking, relationship and the delivery of information. ...