REFLECTION: Faith, fiction and the imagination PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 26 April 2014 11:44

BY FR. ROY CIMAGALA

 

Human as we are, we are always in some need of imagination. We cannot rely on our senses alone, or only on the things that we see, touch and smell. There’s a far richer universe than the physical and sensible world.

Neither can we be too dependent on abstract ideas. These concepts need to be embodied somehow to be truly enjoyed. What is usually termed as intellectual joy would be greatly enhanced if what causes it is also enfleshed or put, at least, in some sensible form.

This is where imagination comes in. The physical gets conceptualized, the material is spiritualized, on the one hand, and the ideas assume sensible shape and form, the spiritual is materialized, forming an image, on the other.

I believe we all realize how important it is to develop our capacity to imagine. In fact, we have to make it as powerful and rich as possible. But, of course, we also need to take precautionary measures so as to avoid going into extremes, resulting in some obsessions and perversions.

In this regard, we have to help one another—the elder, like the parents, taking care of the younger, the children; the more knowledgeable and better endowed taking care of the more simple ones among us.

It’s important that as much as possible we get to know each other well, entering into each other’s inner world of thoughts, desires, and yes, the imagination. That’s because that’s where we can truly say we are in communion as we ought to be.

Our unity and being together simply cannot be a result of a physical grouping or of blood and social relation. Our true unity is forged when we enter into each other’s inner world, and despite our legitimate differences, we are united in the basic, absolute truths.

Anyway, with regard to imagination as a result of putting some sensible form and image to abstract ideas and spiritual realities, we have to learn how to distinguish between an imagination driven by faith and the one driven by fiction.

The two, the faith-driven one as well as the fiction-driven, have their proper value. It’s good to develop them to the max. But we need to distinguish them and try to avoid mixing them indiscriminately. Yes, they can be mixed as long as we don’t forget what is of faith and what is of fiction.

That way, we don’t get lost and detached from reality. We avoid making some fantasy world without anymore realizing it is fantasy. That’s when we fall into some mental disorder.

But if ever we want to invent, it is enhance our appreciation of the truth and the real, still knowing that we are using some fictional devices. We should be wary of the usual pitfalls of the artists and the artistically-inclined people who so rev up their imaginary powers that they can hardly distinguish between the real and the fiction.

To be sure, again because of our weakened human condition, there will always be some gray areas where we the distinction between faith and fiction, the real and the invented, becomes unclear. But let’s hope that they are just in the minor points.

What we should try to avoid is to fall into things like heresies, superstitions, forms of fanaticism, bigotry, self-righteousness and the like. That’s why we need to examine ourselves both individually and collectively.

What is important is that we be clear in the essentials, the basic doctrine of our faith, by studying the catechism very well as well as always trying to be in tune to the continuing teaching of the Church as articulated by the Pope and the bishops united to the Pope.

Individually, we have purify our dispositions—a lot of humility and respect for the authorities and fidelity the sources of our faith. We need to be true souls of prayer, because, no matter how imperfect, that is the usual way to have an abiding contact God in our present earthly conditions.

What for sure would also help is to have recourse to the sacraments, the usual channels of grace which is indispensable to sustain our Christian and spiritual life. Then a life-long ascetical struggle of resisting sins, temptations and occasions of sins, as well as the effort to grow in the different virtues, especially charity.

These are good means to keep us safe in cruising this increasingly complicated world of ours. They offer us a safe path amid all sorts of things that often we do not have time to evaluate.

These intact, we can inflame our imagination safely.