Imagine having the Best of Both Worlds

To me the Lord of the Rings is the greatest work of fiction I have ever read. No other novel has the ability to draw me into the author’s imaginary world like it. What makes it so powerful is the depth of the characters and the way he brings the environment of the novel to life with vivid descriptions. Its real power however is the incredible consistency that exists in Middle Earth there are no loose ends, everything behaves and connects as it should within the framework of the story.

Imagination and creativity is a wonderful thing, but like everything else that God gave us, it can also work against us. It’s one thing to create fantasies for entertainment, its another to fantasize about the real world. It’s amazing that we understand the amount of thought that goes into producing a novel like Lord of the Rings while at the same time denying the enormous creativity that went into the real universe.

Paul, in Romans 1 tells us that our tendency to create fantasies and myths about creation is not just motivated by a desire for entertainment. We do it in order to create for ourselves a world in which we can avoid being answerable to anyone but ourselves.

Paul says that in our foolishness we suppress the knowledge of the God of creation and replace him with gods of our own making. In doing this we cause God to deliver us up to a world full of the consequences of our vain imaginings a world full of hatred, violence, chaos and corruption. This permeates every aspect of our lives there is not a moment in time nor a square centimeter of space anywhere in our universe that is beyond the influence of our rebellion.

This ought to wake us up and make us realise the futility of our actions, but for most it has the opposite effect. What we do is simply imagine that the universe we now have is the best available given the ravages of time plus chance. We convince ourselves that we can expect nothing better than we have.

Yet strangely, we can’t kid ourselves into being happy with what we have. All of us seem to have a desire for something better, even though we have no personal experience of anything to give us this desire.

Invariably we believe that this something better is to be had in the ‘afterlife’ . Here is where the fantasies go to extremes. In the real world we have to give some credence to the hard facts of science and the annoying promptings of our conscience, but in the hereafter we have no such constraints.

Having convinced ourselves that the problem with our current world is its physicality we then create an afterlife in which there is neither physical things, nor laws governing them. Moreover we also imagine a world in which the spiritual or moral laws we resent so much will also be absent. In such a world there are only ghosts disembodied spirits floating freely through a disembodied universe or perhaps a place like the Moslem paradise where our worst, most immoral cravings can be satisfied and pursued throughout all eternity. What is most attractive to us about this kind of afterlife is that it can be enjoyed forever in the absence of God. So by imagination alone I can make God redundant now and forever.

No wonder we aren’t all that happy about the resurrection of Jesus. It was bad enough that he should prove it possible for a man to live joyfully and successfully under God’s physical and moral laws and show us up as flagrant sinners. It was even worse that he should also refuse to stay dead.

I could conveniently forget his life if he stayed in the grave but now I am obliged to take him seriously. Not only has he risen from the dead in physical form making my formless eternity ridiculous, he has the audacity to want to have the final say on whether I should join him in this new world or not. Worse still he has nothing nice for those who don’t want him – its either his heaven or our hell.

So what are we to do with our ability to fantasize and make up stories in a world that demands to be taken seriously and truthfully? What are we to do with our creative juices under a God who has made a wonderful physical world governed by amazing elegant laws? What are we to do when faced with the power of reality to impose itself, no matter how well we construct our myths and legends?

Its simple, you put your stories where they belong under ‘fiction’ and let God and his real world decide your facts.

That way you get the best of both worlds. Imagine that!