I’d rather say “Catholic Weltanschauung,” because any reason to say Weltanschauung is a good reason to say it; but in this context “imagination” works well and doesn’t cramp the Anglophone epiglottis, y’know?
Lately the Catholic Imagination/ Catholic Worldview has bubbled up in reference to Catechesis. In my class I want to spark the kids’ imaginations (what catechist doesn’t), such that they don’t just get the knowledge, but the worldview as well. Readers my age may remember John Houseman’s signal line in the movie The Paper Chase: “You come in here with a skull full of mush and…you leave thinking like a lawyer.” My kids are not in law school, but analogously I want them to learn to think like Catholics. I joke sometimes that converts have all the fun, and one of those fun things I see converts experience is the excitement of acquiring a Catholic imagination. And even though the kids grow up in the faith, they should enjoy that process as well. But all that begs the question: what is a Catholic Imagination?
For a concise answer, look to a book written a decade ago, The Catholic Imagination by Fr. Andrew Greeley (yeah, yeah, I know). In the front of the book there’s an introductory quote by the endearing and stupendously imaginative non-Catholic, William Blake: “Imagination is a representation of what eternally exists, really and unchangeably.” This is followed by a short Introduction which I give my blessing to, for what it’s worth. I don’t think there’s a better short description out there.
And having re-read those six pages, I recall that in 1964 Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart said the following about something that was neither Catholic or Imaginative: “I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description; and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it.”
I know it when I see it, too. Here are a couple of examples I have on my mind these days, which show the CI in action:
P.S Greeley’s book can be had used for about $7 including shipping.
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