Reason and Imagination

When Descartes said, I think, therefore I am, he did us no favor, but further fragmented us, making us limit ourselves to the cognitive at the expense of the imaginative and the intuitive. But each time we read the gospels we are offered anew this healing reconciliation and, if we will, we can accept the most wondrous gift of the magi.

Madeleine L’Engle


Theology is the name we give to the efforts of our minds and hearts to catch up with the work of the Living God in the world. Or theology is the name we give to the effort of our minds and hearts to grasp the world conjured by God and construed by Scripture. Or theology is our successfully imagining the world imagined by Scripture, which reveals the world imagined by God.

    • Luke Timothy Johnson


The Word of God comes to a person and makes that person a prophet. The prophet in turn discloses the Word received. The prophet, under the power of the Word, names ways of living that must be changed. The prophet announces the particular behaviors that are required right now as a response to a new age that is promised. And the new age is proclaimed in fantasized images of considerable particularity.

Bernard J. Lee S.M. Jesus and the Metaphors… p. 116


… metaphor, far from being limited to a linguistic artifact, is characterized by its epistemological function of discovering new meanings. What is at stake is still knowing in process but considered in its nascent moment. In this sense, metaphor is a thought process before being a language process.

Paul Ricoeur


“[Myth] is the language of imaginative insight into ultimate reality, which not only reveals the truth under a symbol, but also enables those who receive the myth to participate in the experience of the poet or prophet who communicates it.”

Bede Griffiths


“This was to give me one of the greatest lessons of my life. I had built up an ideal, which had very little relation to reality, and as soon as I arrived I realized that I had made a mistake. The life had none of the attraction which I had expected. It was not that there was anything wrong with the life itself, but simply that I had been beguiled by my imagination. I realized then that what I was seeking was a fantasy under which my own self-will was disguised. I realized then that the will of God was not to be found in following my own desires, however spiritual they might seem, but in seeking to adapt myself to those circumstances in which by divine providence I actually found myself.”

Bede Griffiths

Kinds of Truth

“There was, of course, something one-sided in all this. [The Priority of imagination over reason.] I was oblivious of every aspect of truth except that which appealed to me. But at the same time I grasped a truth of great importance. I had realized the danger of abstract thought when it loses touch with the concrete realities of life, and I had discovered the truth of experience, which is mediated through the imagination, and which often gives a deeper insight into reality than abstract thought.”

Bede Griffiths