The Baptised Imagination – a call for Papers – from Irish bards

A wonderful theme and a great invitation from some delightful Irish bards who have their own arts and faith group that has been running for a few years. I met them a couple of years ago at a Theology of the Body Conference in Maynooth and we’ve been looking forward to collaborating ever since. Sarah Roche sent me the following email and I’ve asked her to send more details which she is going to do very shortly, but here’s the invite so you can get researching the theme if it interests you –

Abstracts are invited for contemporary art and Christianity conference to be held in the Spring of 2011 (exact date to be confirmed) at the Avila Centre for Spirituality, Dublin. The theme of the conference is The Baptised Imagination. (Abstracts of 250 words for 20-30 minute presentations.)
We are interested in submissions from across all artistic disciplines as well as relevant theological papers. This is the third in a series of conferences, primarily aimed at visual artists. An AGM of the group will be held after the presentations.

Further information and submissions:
m: (+353) 87 4108165

A bit of googling around the theme led me to this introduction to a PHD on the subject – The Baptised Imagination – The Theology of George MacDonald

The imagination has been called the principal organ for knowing and responding to disclosures of transcendent truth.

This book probes the theological sources of the imagination which makes it a vital and reliable tool for knowing and responding to such disclosures.

It approaches this study through focus on the theologian and imaginative writer George MacDonald. As a 19th Century pastor and writer, Macdonald contributed significantly in fostering theological understanding of the imagination.

He also modeled an imaginative way of communicating theological truth with transforming power to shape human lives, communities and the discipline of theology.

Furthermore, through his theological sensitivity to the imagination, he was able to speak prophetically in a number of areas of contemporary concern, such as the nature of suffering ageing and death, environmental degradation and gender issues.

Macdonald’s marriage of imagination and theology emerged from a belief in God as loving Creator and Redeemer and his desire to follow Jesus Christ in all things. He was convinced that a fruitful imagination finds its inspiration in drinking from the wellsprings of God’s infinite creativity.

Christ’s image-rich manner of conveying his Father’s nature and ways was compelling for MacDonald – who was concerned that theology had often become abstracted from imaginative forms and vision, producing husks that were not only hard to digest but also offered little nourishment for an obedient pilgrimage of faith.

MacDonald wrote to offer true food that could empower people to return to a loving father, feast at God’s table and be strengthened to share in God’s Kingdom work. Because he conveyed his theological convictions in such a refreshing and dynamic way, CS Lewis describes his first encounter with MacDonald’s writing as ‘converting’, even baptising his imagination. Though a young atheist at the time, Lewis was captivated by the way goodness and even death was presented in the Phantastes. MacDonald later became significant in Lewis’ pilgrimage of faith and inspired his own richly imaginative expressions of theology.