Sunday, August 19, 2007

Imagination Matters: Truth

The statement "All truth is God's truth," may be, forgive me, true, but so is the statement "All lies are Satan's lies." So therefore we must understand what kind of truth it is that the imagination can convey to us.

For starters let it be stated that art (whether that's paintings, sculptures, poetry, music, or film) does not state truth in propositional form or as abstract/conceptual ideas. Rather it solidifies truth in a concrete experience. While it is true that we must have the abstract words "love," "beauty," and even "faith," the labels don't themselves do justice to the actual things. Do you feel more joy out of thinking on the word love, or out of looking into the face of your bride? Do you feel more pleasure out of the word beauty, than out of the view of the sunrise over a dew covered meadow? There is something about the imagination, like art, which gives us an experience of these abstract concepts.

The imagination conveys truth about our world through experiences. Listen to the words of Louise Rosenblatt:

Students value literature as a means of enlarging their knowledge of the world, because through literature they acquire not so much additional information as additional experience...Literature provides a living-through, not simply a knowledge about...

What the imagination does, when it is expressed, is grant its audience, or creator, a real experience of truth. Though it should be said that some truth should not be experienced, in the sense that audiences and imaginative minds can experience the truths of sin, for now I will simply state that the imagination, as it works itself out, grants us real experiences of divine truths. Romeo & Juliet invites us into love; Michelangelo's Horned-Moses invites us into the dramatic and contemplative; and Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window invites us into the depths of human emotion and the terrors of the city.

All truth is God's truth, and the imagination allows us to experience that truth in unique and tangible ways. Not that it replaces human interaction, but that it heightens it, supplements it, and instills longings in us for it.

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