Sunday, May 01, 2005

Why can’t we dream?

Written at LAX airport: Friday 29th April

In Douglas Coupland’s book, Polaroids from the Dead, is a wonderful story of a skeleton who visits a dying city. There is no water, the buildings are decaying and the artists and creative’s are dying. The skeleton visits and cries, over and over, “Your city is dying because you have no vision of the afterlife.”

I often use the story in my classes, to reference the fact that firstly, even in modernity a spirituality exists and secondly, the power of dreaming, imagining, to release new life, a prophetic imagination.

If we have lost the power to dream, are we in fact enmeshed in a dying and decaying city? Has modernity so corroded our souls, have our insecurities so overwhelmed our creatives, that the skeleton now cries alone.

Or, is it rather that exile is a time consuming process? It took years of grieving before a new way of living, a new spirituality of synagogue and Mid-rash could emerge. Is it too early to dream? Are we still in a time to grieving?

Posted by steve at 08:09 PM


  1. This story is reminiscent of Nietzsche’s madman. It also makes me think of Nancy Pearcey’s book, Total Truth. She analyzes how modernity/enlightenment placed religion & the humanities (art & literature) in the upper story, meaning they don’t contain truth- or tell us about the world. Would you say that the modern irrelevance of the arts is a cause of the problems you’ve brought up here? (And in your book for that matter, I’m through Part One.)

    Roger Overton

    Comment by roger overton — May 3, 2005 @ 9:48 am

  2. Not totally sure what you’re asking Roger, can you unpack it a bit more please.

    Comment by steve — May 4, 2005 @ 3:59 pm

  3. I think we can agree that modernity placed limitations on the arts, expressions of the soul. I actually think modernity killed the human soul in a few ways, but for this discussion I think modernity made arts irrelevant to human experience. As you talk about modernity’s inability to dream, I wonder if that may really be modernity’s destruction of the arts. In your book you emphasize the role art plays in emerging churches around the world, so I think we’re on the same page. I suppose my question then is more rhetorical, more like thinking out loud.

    Comment by Roger N Overton — May 5, 2005 @ 5:32 pm

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