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Saturday 28 October 2017

Thandi Gamedze

Stirring Up the Prophetic Imagination

For some time now, we have been collectively pressing into what Walter Brueggemann terms ‘prophetic imagination’.

While the prophets of old were instrumental in naming, calling out, and condemning the injustices plaguing their societies, this was done in tandem with the re-envisioning of a society founded upon God’s justice and righteousness. They did not simply call for the destruction of the present evils, but they also stirred up a collective imagination of what could be.

The recent Fallist movements in our country have been key in bringing to the fore some of the injustice that often manages to hide beneath the surface of public discourse. These movements have recognised that in order for us to move forward as a people, and as a nation, there are powers that need to be destroyed. I believe however, that within this present moment, there is also space that begs to be filled with our prophetic imaginings. With our creative dreams of a new society. With our visions of the world that we would like ourselves and our children to inhabit.

These two ingredients- the imagining of a new society, and the tearing down of the forces of injustice - are both unhelpful when taken alone. In South Africa’s rainbow nation fallacy, we have seen first-hand the lack of progression when people get stuck in a vision for the future without taking the necessary steps to get there. And on the other side of the coin, we have witnessed in many countries, the destruction that comes from the removal of leaders in the absence of solid plans for their succession.

Thus, in this current climate, where long-ignored injustices are finally being called out and seen for what they are, let us not forget the work of reimagining.
While this sounds like an easy thing to do, many of our imaginations have become stunted from their continued existence within a society that has little value for them. Beginning in childhood, we are taught to colour only inside the lines, we are dissuaded from creating imaginary worlds, we are admonished for daydreaming. Perfectionism is often prioritised over creativity, and productivity over imagination. These realities often result in the progressive diminishing of our ability to dream, create and imagine without inhibition.

Thus, recovering a culture of prophetic imagination begins with the intentional disruption of society’s dominant value systems. It begins with pushing back to make space for creativity, to encourage play, to allow ourselves to daydream. It is time to break our co-dependent relationship with the lines, and begin to colour outside of them, for the creation of a new society requires the bravery to journey where we have never gone before.

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