Manifest Imagination

–by Andy Wade —

Manifest Destiny - public domainHere in the United States, as another Columbus Day rolls around it seems appropriate to remember what that meant for the people already occupying the land he “discovered”. But the US is not alone in its shady past. Many countries in addition to the US have histories of colonialism and violence, all in the name of God.
If we truly want to be imaginative in our approaches to ministry in our communities and world we need to also grasp how easily our imagination is co-opted, twisted by our narrow world view, and destroys the intended shalom of God.

Take a listen to this short clip of Richard Twiss as he discusses how destructive this kind of hamstrung imagination has been to the Native peoples of this land. This Columbus Day perhaps it would be good to put our ideas, our imaginations, our “solutions” into the fire of divine shalom to see if they really do stand up to the test of being the peace-making, healing, reconciling, loving hands and feet of Christ in the world. Today, let us take a step back from agendas and counter, in a way, the legacy of Christopher Columbus by allowing God to sift our motives, our perspectives, and our prejudices so that the legacy we leave reflects more fully the vast diversity and imagination of the Kingdom of God.

This note from Shane Claiborne is also a good reminder of how easily our agendas and God’s true desires can be confused. We may look at this and say, “That’s absurd! I would never be so obviously out of line!” Which hopefully is true. But the little subtle ways we deceive ourselves can be just as devastating to those around us. Imagination and exploration are good things when fully submitted to the wisdom of the Spirit of God at work within a discerning community.


*Note on Columbus Day: While we are thankful for this land we call America, it is important not to romanticize the dark parts of our national history. In his book Lies My Teacher Told Me, James W. Loewen points out that Columbus and the Spaniard conquerers approached the native Americans and would read aloud what came to be called “The Requirement” that went like this:

“I implore you to recognize the Church as a lady and in the name of the Pope take the King as lord of this land and obey his mandates. If you do not do it, I tell you that with the help of God I will enter powerfully against you all. I will make war everywhere and every way that I can. I will subject you to the yoke and obedience to the Church and to his majesty. I will take your women and children and make then slaves . . . The deaths and injuries that you will receive form here on will be your own fault and not that of his majesty nor of the gentlemen that accompany me.”

Part of what we must do is re-learn our history – so that we do not read the Bible with imperial eyes but learn to read the empire with biblical eyes.

Shane Claiborne —