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Monthly Archives: October 2015

I was invited to give a “TED like” talk at the Common Good (CG) Conference 2015 on October 3.  The organizers imaginatively and creatively titled this portion of the conference, “CG Talks.”  My talk is given below with a few tweaks.


Let me tell you what I plan to talk about: I need to define some terms, I plan to tell you a story and then I plan to share three (3) principles.

Define Terms

When talking about imagination, we need to distinguish it from the word, fantasy; first, to imagine means to think creatively of possibilities that are rooted in reality (the reality described on the pages of Scripture). Fantasy, on the other hand, is rooted in a made-up reality. Sorry fellows but “fantasy football” is rooted in a made-up reality. And not to leave the ladies out, this too is a fantasy: having two men at once, one cooking and one cleaning.

Now that we have our terms defined, let me tell you a story. This story takes place in Canada (the Promised Land as one of my seminary professors was fond of calling it). A 17 year old male is just getting off of work and he notices a couple nearby; and the man is hollering at the woman. Instead of walking away, this young man approaches the couple (all this reminds me of Jesus’ Good Samaritan Parable in Luke 10; the Priest and Levite were getting off of work too but they passed on to the other side leaving the injured man to die). Nonetheless, this young man quickly picks up on contextual clues that the woman was in trouble and he tells the couple that he is headed where there are and offers to buy them food, the man agrees…but this young man actually told a little white lie! (Google the young man’s name, Malyk Bonnet).

Is it okay to lie? Yes, I would submit to you that this is an instance this young man exercised his imagination – like the Hebrew midwives did in Exodus 1 who lied to Pharaoh; like Rahab who lied to the local Jericho police in Joshua 2; and like the Quakers did in helping slaves escape via the Underground Railroad from the South to the North (‘Canaan’ or code for Canada.). All these people knew that it was okay to lie because a human life was at stake and the Hebrew midwives, Rahab and the Quakers knew what Augustine had apparently said, “an unjust law is no law at all and therefore we are not obligated to follow it.” This young man diverts the man’s attention long enough to call 911 on someone else’s phone because his phone died; the police soon arrive. This man who was berating this woman in public had a checkered past and was intending on abducting this woman.

Three (3) Principles

So what can we learn from this story, this weekend and the Bible. 3 principles:

  1. All people were made to flourish;
  2. We are called by God to help others flourish – regardless of the risks;
  3. To imagine is what it means to be human; otherwise, why would God say in Ephesians 3:20 (“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think [imagine], according to the power at work within us); so we all are capable of imagining possibilities for the other.


Finally, where did we see human flourishing in this story? One, the woman was allowed to flourish because this man wanted to abduct her; and two, the society-at-large flourished because this man who had many brushes with the law was taken off the streets – he would no longer be a menace to society.