Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Visit my website

Hi friends,

At long last, the all-new is here! It has been totally overhauled as a WordPress blog, so as of June 1, 2011 please visit my website for all further thoughts, comments, and conversations on The God-Hungry Imagination.

Also, be sure to check out my latest book, At the Still Point: A Literary Guide to Prayer in Ordinary Time (Paraclete Press, May 2011). Whenever I speak on The God-Hungry Imagination, folks are always asking, "What's the good stuff? What stories or poems should our youth and congregations be reading?" At the Still Point is my response: a collection of prayerful readings from classic and contemporary poetry and fiction, organized by theme, for each of the twenty-nine weeks in the season of Pentecost or Ordinary Time. Signed copies are available on my website's "shop" page.

Here's to holy dreaming!
Sarah Arthur

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Updated Website

Just a note to let you know that my website is undergoing an extreme makeover and will "go live" as a WordPress weblog very soon--at which point all of my current blogs (including this one) will redirect there. Cheers!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Calvin Worship Symposium

If you're headed to Grand Rapids, MI in two weeks for Calvin's mega worship event, be sure to look me up. I'll be a participant-observer with the high schoolers all day Thursday and then sitting on a panel about youth ministry on Friday & Saturday. And, if you haven't experienced my workshop about The God-Hungry Imagination, be sure to catch it on Friday afternoon during the coveted 4-5 pm time slot. So here's the poll: To kick off my workshop at such a late hour, should I (a) pass out caffeine pills, (b) lead a 10-minute aerobic workout, or (c) read them all bedtime stories?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Shaped by the Story

If you're looking to get your youth group involved in storied experiences of scripture, be sure to check out the upcoming "Merge" event to be held at Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids, MI June 27-July 2. Author and veteran youth worker Michael Novelli ("Shaped by the Story") will be guiding youth groups chronologically through biblical storying, discussion & artistic response. Think "Godly Play" for youth. Yay! Youth must come as part of a youth group with their leaders, so now's the time to start planning ahead--plus you won't want to miss out on the early bird rates. Happy storytelling!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Christmas stories

Participants of my recent seminars on The God-Hungry Imagination were wondering what other books/stories I recommend in addition to those by C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien. The list is huge, so I'll begin slowly (also you can view some of them on my website here). For starters, here are some Christmas tales written & illustrated by Native American storyteller Ray Buckley that you'll want to keep on your shelves:

The Give-Away (Abingdon Press, 1999)

Christmas Moccasins (Abingdon Press, 2003)

Beautiful, enchanting, grace-filled for the God-hungry...

Muscle memory

Recently I had two fantastic experiences leading seminars on The God-Hungry Imagination: The first was at the fall Princeton Youth Ministry Forum held at Kanuga Conference Center near Hendersonville, NC; and the second was in Vancouver, British Columbia at the "Evolve" youth ministry event run by the United Church of Canada. The locations say it all, but the people were even better. In addition to the great questions and conversations sparked by our reflections on imagination & narrative, I found my own thinking challenged and expanded in exciting ways.

For instance, if we believe that faith is embodied, and that one of the ways we learn is by enculturation in the practices of the community in order to build a kind of "muscle memory", then we must pay attention to the ways in which pain and alienation have also been embodied in the community. If someone has been judged or abused by the church, that abuse is built into their muscle memory. Receiving the bread and the cup from a pastoral figure is not a universally healing or hospitable gesture. How can we as a church be more sensitive about such things?

Food for thought...

Monday, September 7, 2009

Chesterton's "Orthodoxy"

As usual, that great man continues to astound and delight:

"The old fairy tale makes the hero a normal human boy; it is his adventures that are startling; they startle because he is normal. But in the modern psychological novel the hero is abnormal; the centre is not central. Hence the fiercest adventures fail to affect him adequately, and the book is monotonous. You can make a story out of a hero among dragons; but not out of a dragon among dragons. The fairy tale discusses what a sane man will do in a mad world. The sober realistic novel of to-day discusses what an essential lunatic will do in a dull world" (20).

"Imagination does not breed insanity. Exactly what does breed insanity is reason" (21).

"...the Greeks were right when they made Apollo the god both of imagination and of sanity; for he was both the patron of poetry and the patron of healing" (33-34).

"Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to the small but arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about. All democracies object to men being disqualified by the accident of birth; tradition objects to their being disqualified by the accident of death" (53).

"Fairyland is nothing but the sunny country of common sense" (54).

"I had always felt life first as a story: and if there is a story there is a story-teller" (60).

"Plato has told you a truth; but Plato is dead. Shakespeare has startled you with an image; but Shakespeare will not startle you with any more. But imagine what it would be to live with such men still living, to know that Plato might break out with an original lecture tomorrow, or that at any moment Shakespeare might shatter everything with a single song. The man who lives in contact with what he believes to be a living Church is a man always expecting to meet Plato or Shakespeare tomorrow at breakfast. He is always expecting to see some truth that he has never seen before" (161-162).

"Theosophists for instance will preach an obviously attractive idea like re-incarnation; but if we wait for its logical results, they are spiritual superciliousness and the cruelty of caste. For if a man is a beggar by his own pre-natal sins, people will tend to despise the beggar. But Christianity preaches an obviously unattractive idea, such as original sin; but when we wait for its results, they are pathos and brotherhood, and a thunder of laughter and pity; for only with original sin can we at once pity the beggar and distrust the king" (164).

"There was some one thing that was too great for God to show us when He walked upon our earth; and I have sometimes fancied that it was His mirth" (168).

--All quotes from Orthodoxy, by G. K. Chesterton (Ignatius Press edition, originally published by John Lane Company, 1908).