It seems to me that the environmental crisis is, at heart, a failure and a perversion of the human imagination. Our imaginations have been taken captive by an ecocidal ideology of economic growth that invariably will render us homeless in a world not fit for habitation. If imagination is the issue, then a redirection of our lives towards creation care will not emerge out of statistics of ecological despoliation, as important as those statistics might be. What we need is liberated imaginations, imaginations set free to envision an alternative life, an ecological imagination that engenders a life of restorative homemaking in this our creational home.
Over the years I have found it to be deeply fruitful to turn to the music and poetry of Canadian singer/songwriter Bruce Cockburn in search of an alternative imagination. Over a career spanning 40 years with 31 albums to his credit, Cockburn has been dedicated to the hard work of imagination, the weaving of word and music in such a way that we see anew, feel more deeply, and are animated by the joy of a creation-caring life. When we bring Cockburn’s art into creative dialogue with scripture, then rich imaginative alternatives emerge.
This prose/poem/sermon, “Creation Dreams and Ecological Nightmares,” is rooted in a series of counterpointal readings from scripture coupled with a number of Cockburn songs.
The first set of readings places Genesis one in tension with a number of prophetic texts. Read these texts in this order and see what happens:
Is. 24:4-6, 11, 19
Gen. 1:26-28, 30-31
Then add in John 1:1-5 and Colossians 1:21-23.
Now stir it all with the music of Bruce Cockburn. Specifically, listen to “One Day I Walk,” “Creation Dream,” and “Lord of the Starfields.” If you are really keen, also cue up “All the Diamonds,” “In the Falling Dark,” and “Night Train.” 1
Now, with all of this scripture and these songs echoing in your mind (and maybe the room you are sitting in), I offer these reflections on “Creation Dreams and Ecological Nightmares.”