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Week 39: Prophets' Imagination - Living in The Story

Week 39: Prophets’ Imagination

Unpacking the prophets’ imagination is especially helpful as our Living in The Story readings lead us through both the works of the OT prophets and the Revelation of John in our NT. Prophets persistently challenge status quo, counter conventional wisdom, and cast alternative visions.

Walter Brueggemann’s classic book, The Prophetic Imagination, reminds readers that Torah needs the prophets to name both the human brokenness and the divine remedies. Every society in every age needs prophets who will speak truth to all us stumbling ordinary people as well as to speak truth to power.

The great Jewish scholar Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel described the nature and function of the prophets [as similar to the poets’ imagination]. Kelly Brown Douglas explored the prophetic work of Martin Luther King Jr. and especially noted the vision Dr. King cast in his iconic “I Have a Dream” speech as a moral imagination.

The imaginative ministry of prophets continues to challenge inequities and injustices that harm and hold back God’s beloved. Prophetic, poetic, moral imagination: all these aspects describe how prophetic work imagines, envisions, and dreams alternative realities that allow for human flourishing . . .

The biblical prophets were not future tellers, as some literalist theologies suggest (though the prophets might envision a projection of the future). Nor were the prophets simply social justice advocates, as some liberal theologies suggest. Prophets, from within their divine orientation and keen ability to hear the Holy, can “work a newness” in the midst of our earthly orientation. That is, their words of “holy graciousness or holy judgment” can work newness within those who have eyes to see and ears to hear . . .

History mostly is written by the winners where “might makes right.” That topside perspective is not the only way to tell a story, because God’s Story is most always inside-out-and-upside-down from the way we humans prefer to tell our stories.

The Story offers new possibilities, even impossible possibilities . . .

Read more at Charlotte Vaughan Coyle, Living in The Story: A Year to Read the Bible and Ponder God’s Story of Love and Grace (Resource Publications).

Living in The Story readings for Week 39

Isaiah 56-66

Songs of Ascent

Psalm 133

Psalm 134

Psalm 135

Psalm 136

Psalm 121

Revelation 4-6

Mark 1

Author: Charlotte Vaughan Coyle

Charlotte lives and blogs in Paris TX. She is ordained within the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and developed Living in The Story while doing doctoral work at Brite Divinity School in Ft. Worth. Charlotte also blogs about intersections of faith, politics, and culture at