The questions that matter

Figures in open space have always been what film is all about. American film. This is the situation. People in a wilderness, a wild and barren space. The space is the desert, the movie screen, the strip of film, however you see it. What are the people doing here? This is their existence. They’re here to work out their existence. This space, this emptiness is what they have to confront. I’ve always loved American spaces. People at the end of a long lens. Swimming in space.

– Don DeLillo, The Names[i]

I just returned home from a road trip through the “American space” of four western states – Washington, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming – to find that an old post of mine, “You can never go fast enough,” had been selected for “Freshly Picked,” the WordPress showcase for editors’ picks and community favorites. It is a lovely honor, and the theme of that post – the endless road trip of American culture – coincided nicely with my own wanderings.

The video was shot on a lonely Montana highway as the sun sank into a forest fire sky. For a sixty mile stretch, I didn’t see another car. To be the subject of that view, “swimming in space,” was exhilarating.[ii] As I wrote in that featured post:

We are a people enamored of open highways, limitless horizons and liberating journeys to the distant places where we can reinvent ourselves.

Since being “freshly picked” has brought an infusion of new readers and followers, it seems a good time not only to say welcome, and thank you for visiting, but also to indicate what goes on in this space. A lot of you are here because of a post built around a classic car show. But next time the subject will be completely different. Nature, culture, religion, spirituality, liturgy, the arts, cinema, and politics have all made an appearance here.

But while the topics are diverse (see sample links below), they are all grounded in a theological practice of sifting through the substance of this given world – nature, culture, self and spirit – to consider the questions that matter. And what are those questions? The list from Blade Runner comes to mind: “He wanted to know what everybody wants to know. Where do I come from? Where am I going? How long have I got?”

Jill Stoner, in her provocative and thoughtful book on rethinking architecture, gives a wonderful description of her method: “I take enormous pleasure in orchestrating dialogues among writers who may never before have occupied the same page.”[iii] The Religious Imagineer takes similar delight in curating unusual, even unlikely combinations of writings, themes, thoughts and stories which might otherwise not take place.

If there is one underlying subject of this blog, it is imagination. How do we say the unsayable, see the invisible, dance the impossible in our images, rituals and stories? How do we attend to the traces of God amid the chronic unknowing of secular modernity? How do we imagine the really Real and the not-yet?

So to new and old readers alike, thanks for coming along. Who knows what lies around the next bend? As one reader commented about my classic car post, “I don’t know what you said but I enjoyed the ride.”

Selected past posts by theme:

Walking the Camino de Santiago: April and May archives, 2014






Cinema: 10 best religious films, 10 best Jesus films, Around a Small Mountain


Solitude: Part 1, Part 2

Alternative worship: Part 1 (multimedia), Part 2 (installation)


Politics and culture: Immigration, Keystone pipeline

[i] Don DeLillo, The Names (New York: Vintage), 198

[ii] The song on the car stereo is “East of Woodstock, West of Vietnam,” on Tom Russell’s Blood and Candle Smoke.

[iii] Jill Stoner, Toward a Minor Architecture (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2012), x

8 thoughts on “The questions that matter

  1. Pingback: American Nomads | The religious imagineer

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