Monday, April 17, 2017

"For while the founding figures [of religious movements] were imaginative and creative, imagination and creativity were rarely qualities encouraged in the schools and orders they established.... As their traditions grew into powerful religious institutions, the preservation of orthodoxy became the main priority.  While originating in acts of imagination, orthodoxies paradoxically seek to control the imagination as a means of maintaining their authority.  The authenticity of a person's understanding is measured according to its conformity with the dogmas of the school.  While such controls may provide a necessary safeguard against charlatanism and self-deception, they also can be used to suppress authentic attempts at creative innovation that might threaten the status quo.  The imagination is anarchic and potentially subversive.  The more hierarchic and authoritarian a religious institution, the more it will require that the creations of the imagination conform to its doctrines and aesthetic norms.  Yet by suppression of the imagination, the very cut off at its source.  While religious orthodoxies may survive and even prosper for centuries, in the end they will ossify.  When the world around them changes, they will lack the imaginative power to respond creatively to the challenges of the new situation."

--Stephen Batchelor


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