Imagination in an Age of Crisis

Imagination in an Age of Crisis: Soundings from the Arts and Theology. Eugene: Pickwick Publications, 2022.

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This book explores the vital role of the imagination in today’s complex climates—cultural, environmental, political, racial, religious, spiritual, intellectual, etc. It asks: What contribution do the arts make in a world facing the impacts of globalism, climate change, pandemics, and losses of culture? What wisdom and insight, and orientation for birthing hope and action in the world, do the arts offer to religious faith and to theological reflection?

These essays, poems, and short reflections—written by art practitioners and academics from a diversity of cultures and religious traditions—demonstrate the complex cross-cultural nature of this conversation, examining critical questions in dialogue with various art forms and practices, and offering a way of understanding how the human imagination is formed, sustained, employed, and expanded. Marked by beauty and wonder, as well as incisive critique, it is a unique collection that brings unexpected voices into a global conversation about imagining human futures.

Table of Contents

ForewordBen Quash

Daring ImaginationJason Goroncy

The Cloud of UnknowingJordie Albiston

Yolŋu Scriptures and Hermeneutics: Mäna/Bul’manydjiMaratja Dhamarrandji, with Jione Havea

Having Eyes to See: An Interview with Emmanuel GaribayEmmanuel Garibay, with Rod Pattenden

Why Imagination MattersTrevor Hart

Painting: A Contemplative Action in the Time of PandemicDouglas Purnell

The Objects of Our Loyalties and the Power of Inanimate ObjectsRobin Jensen

The Shadow of the CrossRobert Cording

“If I Say …”: Poetry “after God” in Times of Eco-social and Ecclesial TraumaAnne Elvey

TimpaniJulie Perrin

Hope at the End of HistoryScott Kirkland

HomePetra White

Every Life Can SingTrish Watts

“I Am Making Everything New!”: Textless Music and the Expansion of the Christian Imaginary in Times of DisruptionJennifer Wakeling

Journal de l’Année de la PesteKevin Hart

Setting the Record Straight: The Prophetic Art of Ai WeiweiAdrienne Dengerink Chaplin

What Do I Paint Now?Alfonse Borysewicz

Imagination and the Sacred: Contemporary Australian Fictions of HybridityLyn McCredden

Process SequencePaul Mitchell

“It’ll Take You Way Down to the Wilderness”: Theology in Conversation with the Films of Rolf de Heer and David GulpililKatherine Rainger

Grass CloakPenny Dunstan

“My Past Has Thrown Me Out”: Reading Samuel Beckett’s Plays in an Age of TraumaJason Goroncy

FellowshipChristian Wiman

Do You Believe in God?Pádraig Ó Tuama

Imagined Conversations and Real Letters during COVID-TimesNaomi Wolfe

Circular RepetitionKarly Michelle Edgar

Ida Nangala GranitesSteve Bevis

George Gittoes: The Artist as Prophet and MysticRod Pattenden

The Portable ChurchJohn Foulcher

Who Is an Artist, and Who Cares Anyway?Libby Byrne

Compelling StoriesGlenn Loughrey

Figure Held in WaterMichael Symmons Roberts

“Goin’ to the City”: African American Folk Ritual for Communal HealingAmina McIntyre

What to Make of This, What to MakeScott Cairns 


‘This is an extraordinarily energetic—and imaginative!—collection of essays and artistic initiatives. It is, in multiple senses, a collection “for our time”, and opens up a range of fresh futures for the ever-growing interchange between theology and the arts’. — Jeremy Begbie, Duke University

‘Rising phoenix-like from a COVID-19-canceled conference, Imagination in an Age of Crisis is a collection of fine essays, poems, reflections, visual artworks, and more responding to the sort of questions that have been playing on our minds. Are the arts a luxury we can ill afford in a time of pandemic? What role does imagination play in building hope? … This is a book to be savored, shared, and discussed. All that is missing is the soundtrack!’ — Jane Foulcher, Charles Sturt University

‘This impressive collection ranges widely in its offering of imaginative responses to threat and suffering. Some deeply affecting presentations of poetry and visual art are set alongside more conventional theological reflection on figures as diverse as Samuel Beckett and Ai Weiwei, or Aboriginal art and African American folk religion. Best digested gradually, it provides a rich feast of insights along the way’. — David Brown, University of St Andrews

‘This remarkable collection of pieces succeeds in showing how imagination can create alternative modes of living and being at a time of crisis. Jason Goroncy’s opening contribution, claiming a place for revelation, or “fresh vision”, in both art and theology, impressively sets the tone for what follows, where the editors skillfully bring together practitioners and theorists to demonstrate convincingly how imagination is formed and offers hope for our future’. — Paul Fiddes, University of Oxford

‘Goroncy and Pattenden have assembled a remarkable collection of reflections on the power of the imagination to instill hope and meaning in disturbing times. … This volume is a breath of fresh air. It will leave the reader with an abiding sense of what it means to be a human being in a world beloved of God’. — Stephen Pickard, Charles Sturt University

The editors acknowledge the generous assistance of the Australian Research Theology Foundation Inc. for a grant to support this publication.