For Professor of Theology Kerry Dearborn, the imagination is a place of visions and dreams where the Holy Spirit can enter and bring profound transformation.
It can also be a place of hiding.
“Here’s where the shadows continue to linger, unless we allow that spirit in to flush them all out, so that we can own them, repent of them and pray for cleaning of them continually,” Dearborn said.
On Feb. 19, roughly 70 students, faculty, staff and community members attended a John Perkins Center Forum titled, “Justice Speaks: Drinking from the Wells.” At the forum, Dearborn and Tierra Nueva’s Director of Gang Initiatives Chris Hoke tied their new books into a dialogue about the Holy Spirit, incarceration and new creation.
According to Dearborn, struggling with the idea of reconciliation as a Christian became a point of research to launch her book titled, Drinking of Fresh Wells of New Creation. The book discusses the role of the Holy Spirit and imagination in reconciliation.
“Often in the church, we relegate the imagination to a lower place in our esteem. But it’s in the imagination where we can hide our fears, our dislikes and our age-old self of either superiority or inferiority,” Dearborn said.
“The Holy Spirit is here to radically transform the imagination and create a new vision,” Dearborn said.
Dearborn stressed the importance of the Holy Spirit and the power it has to bypass customs, traditions and other barriers.
“The Holy Spirit allows you to let go of deeply held convictions,” Hoke added. “It’s wild and rebellious.”
Sophomore English major Katherine Taylor was intrigued by the conversation.
“I never realized how much of an impact spirituality can have on your mind,” Taylor said. “It’s definitely something I’ll be more conscious of.”
For Hoke, interacting with a community of prison inmates allowed the Holy Spirit to test his own convictions. Hoke’s book titled, Wanted: A Spiritual Pursuit Through Jail, Among Outlaws, and Across Borders, examines the inmates Hoke came to know while serving as night-shift chaplain at a men’s correctional facility.
For Hoke, working closely with prison inmates helped him spread the word of God.
However, Hoke soon discovered that he wanted more than simple interactions with the inmates.
“I was told not to connect with any inmates. I had to get out of their way and only use the Bible as a way to communicate, but I discovered that even the Bible can be a barrier,” Hoke said.
According to Hoke, trust is the only way to build relationships and make lasting friendships.
By sharing personal stories, Hoke was able to form connections and reach out to inmates.
“I found myself visiting the prisons more often because the guys wouldn’t judge me. I could confess my own private issues without being censored. It was safe,” Hoke explained.
For Hoke and Dearborn, the Holy Spirit is most powerful in the imagination, not doctrine. For them, friendship and companionship lead to enlightenment.
“We need to be reformed and always open to the Holy Spirit to teach us new things,” Dearborn said. “We need lots of different voices to help us because we always have blinders on. We all have different ways of seeing things that may need to be corrected.”