Imagination, Not Intellect

Imagination, Not Intellect December 16, 2005

At the advice of some of my preacher friends I have been reading a very funny book by Christopher Moore called Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal. There have actually been a couple of times that I’ve been reading along and laughed. Out loud. For a long time.

One of those parts of the book is when the disciples are waiting out on a boat in the middle of the Sea of Galilee:
We assumed he would be swimming or rowing out in one of the small boats, but when he finally came down to the shore the multitude was still following him, and he just kept walking, right across the surface of the water toward the boat. The crowd stopped at the shore and cheered. Even we were astounded by this new miracle, and we sat in the boat with our mouths hanging open as Joshua [Jesus] approached.
“What?” he said. “What? What? What?”
“Master, you’re walking on the water,” said Peter.
“I just ate,” Joshua [Jesus] said. “You can’t go into the water for an hour after you eat. You could get a cramp. What, none of you guys have mothers?”

I can understand how some people might think imagining Jesus as human is a little sacrilegious, but isn’t that what Christmas is all about? Hey! Isn’t that what our faith is all about?

Christopher Moore must agree, as the entire book is full of clever vignettes like the one above. He’s not a theologian but I think in the process of writing this book he may have accidently become one. This I concluded when I read the comments of Moore’s character Maggie (Mary Magdalene to you orthodox types). Here she is defending the bumbling attempts of the first disciples:
Faith isn’t an act of intelligence; it’s an act of imagination. Every time you give them a new metaphor for the kingdom they see the metaphor, a mustard seed, a field, a garden, a vineyard, it’s like pointing something out to a cat–the cat looks at your finger, not at what you’re pointing at. They don’t need to understand it, they only need to believe, and they do. They imagine the kingdom as they need it to be, they don’t need to grasp it, it’s there already, they can let it be. Imagination, not intellect.

Maybe part of the work of Advent is approaching all of this like Christopher Moore does, with wild, crazy, unbridled imagination.

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