Examining religion and public life
By Nathan C. Walker
(Forthcoming Skinner House Press)
Effective justice leaders cannot simply be first-responders to oppressive agendas but they must be the ethical agenda setters of our time.
One way to achieve this goal is to train social justice leaders how to mindfully harness the generative power of the moral imagination – to see the world through the eyes of another.
The fact is, no one is exempt from the shadow-side of the imagination. It plagues every religious community, occupying the minds of those who justify discrimination, exclusion and violence. The political creeds of the Religious Right breed in these shadows, as does the dogma of Liberal Fundamentalists, who repeatedly become what they set out against. There is a proven remedy to these harmful patterns: experimenting with the moral imagination.
In this gritty and intellectually honest treatment of the human condition, Reverend Nate Walker exposes his own shadow-side, vulnerably revealing his moral failures. Thanks to the help of his PSTs, his Personal Spiritual Trainers, he claims the moral imagination as an everyday spiritual practice.
He learns that we can save ourselves from the horrors of humanity by seeking to understand one another, aware that understanding need not imply agreement. It is a way of walking in one another’s shoes. And that is what this book requires of its readers: to not simply be passive receivers of the page but to enact these moral dilemmas on the informal stage.
The first part of the book is designed to be read, the second part is meant to be played. Whenever a small or large group gathers, someone turns to the first experiment and begins casting the improv. These hysterically funny and grippingly tragic skits require no rehearsal. The purpose is not to simply observe the suffering caused by the shadow-side of the imagination but to experience in real time the salvation that occurs when experimenting with the moral imagination.
“Moral imagination is the ability to anticipate or project
oneself into the middle of a moral dilemma or conflict
and understand all the points of view.”
Glossary of Ethics Modules, University of Kansas Medical School