What is the Sacramental Imagination?

Thursday, February 4, 2010loss of the sacred

What is sacramental imagination?

From Andrew Greeley:

“Religion… is imagination before it’s anything else. The Catholic  imagination is different from the Protestant imagination. You know  that: Flannery O’Connor is not John Updike.”

“The central symbol (of religion) is God. One’s “picture” of God is  in fact a metaphorical narrative of God’s relationship with the world  and the self as part of the world… The Catholic “classics” assume a  God who is present in the world, disclosing Himself in and through  creation. The world and all its events, objects, and people tend to  be somewhat like God. The Protestant classics, on the other hand,  assume a God who is radically absent from the world, and who  discloses (Himself) only on rare occasions (especially in Jesus  Christ and Him crucified). The world and all its events, objects, and  people tend to be radically different from God.”

More at: http://www.alyosha.com/si/index.html

And here’s from another article at:

“Theologically, Christianity provides a language—and some doctrinal  and historical metaphors or benchmarks—for two such imaginations: the  sacramental and the dialectical. The first is broadly linked to  Catholic ways of seeing and understanding God and the world, and the  second, equally broadly and generally, to a Protestant sensibility.”

“Drawing on the work of Catholic theologian David Tracy, University  of Notre Dame theology professor Mary Catherine Hilkert, in her book  NAMING GRACE, gives a useful and succinct definition of the two  imaginations: “The dialectical imagination stresses the distance  between God and humanity, the hiddeness and absence of God, the  sinfulness of human beings, the paradox of the cross, the need for  grace as redemption and reconciliation…and the not-yet character of  the promised reign of God. The sacramental imagination…emphasizes the  presence of the God who is self-communicating love, the creation of  human beings in the image of God…the mystery of the incarnation.”

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