Thursday, November 15, 2012

A Short Response to Anne

This is a short response to Anne, who read my post on Christian Fantasy and was kind enough to respond on her blog here

Hi Anne! I'm glad that you found my blog and that it interested you. And thank you for so graciously interacting with my thoughts, even if you disagree with them. Your English is fantastic, by the way!

A few clarifications.

1) The distinction I was making between imagination and fantasy is one that we all know and feel. The two words are not perfectly interchangeable. There is a great deal of imagination that goes in to fantasy, but still we tend to view fantasy as imagined things or situations which are impossible to be actualized in the real world. Think about the Fantasy genre in books and film. These works are called fantasy because the stories that they present could never actually come to fruition in reality.

Here is where my thoughts on imagination as being productive comes in. For example, if you are a writer or an artist, you may fantasize about writing a great book and receiving rewards and accolades for having done so. But in the end, you are no closer to actually writing that great book because your fantasizing will never lead to anything productive. In fact, it is self defeating in that you can become so enamored with the idea of writing a great book that you will never put the hard work into actually writing that book.

Imagination, however, serves to actually produce that book. You aren't vaguely fantasizing about some personal scenario which will never come to pass, but thinking about how you might put those imagined scenarios into stories that will engage a reader. So, if you are writing a Fantasy book, a great deal of imagination goes into writing that story, including creating fantastic characters and creatures that could never exist in reality, but you are not simply fantasizing. To say it another way, if you are fantasizing, you are necessarily using your imagination, whereas if you are using your imagination, you may be thinking of fantastic things, but you aren't necessarily fantasizing.

2) Regarding my thoughts on fantasizing as stealing glory from God and being self-idolatry, I must say that I am a Christian in a sense that is not very popular today, and especially in Europe. By that I mean that I accept the Bible as God's perfect revealing of Himself to humans, and as the only true guide to knowledge of who/what/how He is, and who we are as humans. The way in which I interact with God, and with the rest of the world, is therefore dictated by what I find within the Bible. That being said, the Bible is a God-centered book, that is to say, it revolves completely around God Himself. And through all the stories and commands (it is a varied book made up of narrative, Law, history, poetry, wisdom literature) He reveals to us His plan and desire to be in relation with His creation in a way that focuses on His greatness.

So, when I speak of my desire for recognition/glory as being an affront to God's glory and worth, what I'm saying is that, in those moments when I'm fantasizing of my greatness, I have left that God-centeredness that He desires for me. In so doing, I have stolen what He alone deserves, which is that central place of honor and glory and worth to which EVERYTHING in this universe was created to relate. And, the full expression of this entire concept was incarnated in the person of Jesus Christ.

In Jesus, we find the ultimate paradox. God, the One who is deserving of all the honor and worship of all created things in the universe, became a man and died in our place, the ultimate expression of humility and love. And He did so to set me free from sin and death, which are often seen in this life in the form of self-centeredness and self-idolatry. As it is said in the Apostle Paul's second letter to the Corinthians in the New Testament:

"16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." (2 Cor 5:16-21)

Jesus, having rescued us from the death and worthless pursuit of loving ourselves, has freed us to love and serve others. It is only when we come into a relationship with God through believing in Jesus Christ that we can actually experience this freedom. And, it is in our nature to continually return to loving and worshiping ourselves, which is why we need to daily humble ourselves and ask God to help us in living a life that is truly God-centered and Christ-centered, focusing on bringing them glory and not ourselves.

So, that is a bit of the perspective that I'm writing from. Having lived in Europe for 5 years and hoping to return soon, and being married to a French woman, I know that you will almost definitely disagree with me, and that you are more than likely unsympathetic, if not antipathetic, to my ideas. But interesting discussions should always be based on open and honest dialogue. Again, I thank you for making that possible by writing and interacting with my post in such a kind manner.

I hope all the best for you.


Thursday, November 01, 2012

Christian Fantasy, or, I Worship Myself

Today I glanced at my twitter feed and noticed this post by Don Miller. He was writing about how his mind wanders and he could daydream all day if he wanted, but that contrary to what some might think, such fantasizing can actually be a great hindrance to creativity. Miller made a distinction between imagination and fantasy. Imagination is the life source of great art. It is what draws you into a work of art like a tractor beam, be it painted in colors or crafted in prose. Fantasy, on the other hand, is a useless distraction. Why?

Imagination is productive, while fantasy is about escape. Interesting.

I'm not a writer, but the reason Miller's post caught my eye was that just yesterday, a friend and I were talking about what we daydream about and why. I said that I often caught myself fantasizing about doing something great, be it a heroic act or a stirring message, and that what I was longing for in those daydreams was recognition. After all, I do describe myself as being good at everything, but great at nothing. But, Miller's thoughts came down like a hammer on my soul.

I'm not longing for recognition, what I'm really longing for is glory. Saying it that way is only meant to cover up the treason that really lies in my heart. I don't just want people to notice me by imagining myself in situations where ignoring me would be impossible. Instead, I strongly desire that others would see me as being glorious and worthy of awe. Simple recognition won't suffice.

But all glory that isn't ascribed to God is an affront to His worth. What I'm searching for in my fantasies is to rob God of His glory. Of course, I could never say that outright, which is why I phrased it the way I did to my friend--"I'm longing for recognition." That's a bold faced lie.

I want Glory. And that infinitely devalues the redemption that Jesus Christ bought for me through His shed blood. In fact, the very idol of self that I set up every time I go seeking for glory, is the very idol from which he died to give me freedom. Christianity is a relationship in which God invites us to deny ourselves, die to ourselves, forget ourselves, and follow Jesus as He transforms our insignificant little lives into means of accomplishing acts of eternal significance. In my own hands, I'm but a child's drawing in the wet sand, waiting to be washed away by the next tide. But in His hands, my life becomes a brushstroke in the incredible work that is His eternal plan. I'm only beautiful in the right context in the the hands of the right artist.

My name is Mike Gorski, and I'm an idolater. I love myself too much.

My name is Mike Gorski, and I'm a sinner saved and sanctified by pure grace. All the glory and honor to Christ my Savior.