A Crisis of "Disimagination"
Hello Good People!
As a spiritual leader, I constantly check my theories and practices for relevance. Learning from established and visionary groups and organizations has been a seminal part of my ongoing education.
The Religious Education Association (REA) is an organization with a strong and rich history and is defined as 'an Association of Professors, Practitioners, and Researchers in Religious Education." It is truly an interfaith collaborative. Years ago I had the opportunity to attend their annual conference when it was in Boston. I am still referring to research and wisdom presented by colleagues in faith.
I receive their newsletter and I am sitting still as I process REA president, Harold Horell's, who shared the Steering Committee of the REA's public assertion, "A Statement on the Paralyzing Effects of Disimagination." It is dated 24 December 2015, a fact which is as compelling as the plain, deep and intelligent perspective. There is great denseness to the rhetorical and real question posed in the statement,
"How can we help create teaching/learning opportunities where people become aware of and reflect upon the nature, extent, and causes of contemporary social violence, and then discern how, personally and communally, we are called by God to respond? How can we build bridges across ethic, religious, and racial divides, and foster greater understanding of our shared humanity and the common good? How can education in faith provide the members of our specific faith communities with a secure grounding in our religious traditions while, at the same time, enabling us to remain open to what is true and holy in other religious traditions?"
How do we remain open to what is true and holy in other religious traditions? Even more critical to wonder is how do we remain open to what is true and holy in our own tradition? Are we just following a script or following a crowd? Are our children's spiritual explorations based on facts and tenants. Are we providing all the questions that our children are to wonder about or do we create story children's where children can ask their own questions? How do we connect the moral imagination of children with the seriousness of the world's ailments?
I don't think it's helpful for anyone to answer this question out loud. It's clear that for any of us who follow the call to spiritual leadership, the most troubling part is the sense of scarcity in time, creativity, and mutual encouragement that we always hope to come our way. Oftentimes the structures that we work within choke everyone's imagination. All too often there is a disconnect between the stated mission and the hierarchical structures that are created as a matter of efficiency.
Imagination is not to be stream-lined. Moral and ethical development cannot be installed and easily updated. We don't live into our mission by finding convenient ways to be a people of faith, hope, and solidarity.
The practices of Divign Thinking are all invoked by this latest work of the REA. Are we learning to be spontaneously empathetic or do we err on the side of subjective boundaries? Do we create time and space so we can wonder together, putting forth questions of not knowing? How can we incorporate powerful expressions and acts of creativity (and embrace intentional experimentation which values the precious learning in failure)? When do we enhance the capacities of each other by intentionally engaging in collaboration as a discipline? What meaning do we ascribe to all this -- that in the face of innovative beyond our previous belief, most of us still don't schedule time with ourselves in a co-creative act?
Your thoughts are not only welcome but much needed to make this important conversation whole.
In divign thoughts,
Welcome to Divign Thinking
Welcome to the launch! This website and linked Facebook page is hereby dedicated to the story and practice of being a spiritual leader. Over time, we'll collect the best resources, talk about the practices as they manifest in our lives and work, and explore ways to grow in our identity and passion. The website is in progress. Please sign up for our mailing list. Please feel free to share your ideas, resources and technical prowess. This is just a starting place.
Divign Thinking is for leaders, spiritual leaders. Divign Thinking came from the wisdom shared among religious and youth workers. Their years of collective experience represent the core of what it means to whole-heartedly, creatively and intelligently engaged. So, if you're reading this, chances are you are on an ever-inviting path of learning and growth as a leader. An underlying assumption of Divign Thinking is that we are all leaders. Chances are, we will be given an opportunity to influence someone else. Chances are, we have an opportunity to do this each day if we are out in the world -- either in the flesh or digitally.
At the simplest level, Divign Thinking is a conversation about being a spiritual leader. Through themed graphics, online conversations, written reflection and the current innovative tools for shared peer learning, and especially just finding the right time and place to ask questions. Like.
How can I maintain personal balance and dedication to good works?
What is it I need to know?
What should I pay attention to?
When can we schedule a time to practice structured methods for cultivating new creative
ideas and adaptive solutions?
Let's discover our shared vision! I wonder about the ways our work differs.
What is the source of call for our work?
Why does that matter?
Divign Thinking began as a learning module to explore the elements of personal and spiritual development among peers. Conceived by long-time religious educator and interfaith community minister, Anne Principe, Divign Thinking is evolving into an open source of stories, ideas, and interactive methods intended to cultivate and empower the spiritual leader's sense of Self and impact. To cultivate the Self means to commit to always being a learner as we live in to our identity, beliefs, and for many -- the archetypal role of being a leader. The collection of resources makes good use of various current methods of creative engagement, innovative problem solving and new educational theories.
Divign Thinking - as a concept- welcomes all expressions of empowerment, equity and meaning-making in our midst. When we are thinking divignly, we are fully awake and aware of what is happening in our midst, our role in it, and the ultimate meaning for all those involved. This is an intentional practice that deeply relies on shared learning.
The term, "divign thinking," is an intersection of the divine and "design thinking." Whereas the notion of design as a "way of thinking" in the sciences began in the 1960s, Divign Thinking suggests the need for collective/justice/creatively-minded leaders to to inform, develop, and discipline their habits and skills by continual spiritual, rational and emotional identity work.
So please, stay tuned in. It will be great to connect in this way.
In peace and possibility,