Stuart gave the following little address last month. It’s the the sort of thing that you’ll hear when the Unitarians meet for worship on a Sunday. But Sundays are a fraction of what we do! Explore our site to find out what we are all about – and see you at The Chapel soon.
When I was a boy there was nothing better in life than playing with a box of Lego. New Lego boxes were colourful and exciting filed with the potential of my imagination.
The box covers gave illustrations of three or four things that could be made with any given set; a house, a car – that sort of thing – but as I recall, there were few, if any instructions. It was a few pictures and then imagination.
I’d try to build whatever it was on the front cover of the box but within a few hours of getting new Lego, the set would be amalgamated with the old boxful that I already had and soon there would be just one delightful, delicious ragbag jumble of Lego bits. And that’s when my imagination ran wild.
These days, Lego seems to be a bit more prescriptive. There’s still an attractive picture on the box-front but it seems that we are directed to just the one thing that it’s possible to make with any particular set. Technology has made it possible to make anything with Lego which will look more or less exactly like the thing it’s supposed to be. That’s exciting – but perhaps there is a cost.
After a recent experience of playing Lego with my Godchild, I did notice that a few days in of possession of a new set, the carefully engineered, precisely constructed models of the modern era had soon become amalgamated with the existing Lego set and had ended up in one big lovely jumble over the carpet.
Could it be that despite the manufacturer’s best efforts to direct our minds towards a preconceived, polished, finely engineered goal the lure of imagination and a bagful of random Lego is yet the more powerful?
Do our brains have an imperative for imagination? I would suggest that they do and so long as we don’t lose all grip of reality, then surely to nourish this aspect of our psyche is a natural, human response to life.
With our imagination we can marvel and dream and live with a sense of awe and wonder at the possibilities of what could be.
And this leads me to another aspect. Too often these days, people are, perhaps, a little too quick to draw a distinction between something as being ‘true’ as in factually, historically accurate and something as being untrue because it is partly imagined, partly mythologised, partly mysterious and therefore to be dismissed. This often happens with religious stories.
But often, such stories do contain truths (as opposed ‘the Truth’). Religious stories contain meaning. Religious stories are concerned less about historical accuracy and more about the light which they may shed upon the human condition.
The extent to which believing religious stories to be factually true is often a matter of personal religious belief. But perhaps ‘belief’ matters less than does the possibility that stories have has the potential to repeatedly reach deep into the heart of our minds and souls and to whisper again and again, ‘imagine a world whose defining characteristics are radically better than those which we currently experience all too often.’
And if we can imagine what that this world might look like, we stand a better chance of building it, right here, right now.
And unlike modern Lego, we don’t need a finely tuned engineered set of tools to do that, or for that matter, a detailed set of instructions. The lovely jumble of humanity that we already have to hand– and a bit of imagination- will do just fine.