Zoom Meeting Sermon May 7 2023

 Topic: Recommended Reading: Imajica

Today we will be talking about the book Imajica by Clive Barker, published 1991, and the ways in which the primary protagonist practices - or fails to practice - the Virtues.

The main character in this story is a man named Gentle, who eventually speaks the line that is the mantra and heart of Compassion. But before we get to that line in the book, we must follow Gentle across entire dimensions in his quest to find both his beloved and himself. Gentle starts out as a self-absorbed hedonist, indulging his base desires with little thought to his character or future. He sustains himself by means of his artistic talent, which he takes completely for granted. His world is turned upside down when he is almost killed by a mysterious but somehow familiar assassin, and he abandons everything he knows to follow his would-be killer across the borders between worlds. He discovers an entire Universe, consisting of four Dominions aside from our own, filled with wonder and danger in equal measure. Gentle undertakes a mission to the center of this Universe, to find what may be found there and along the way to solve the mystery of his own existence.

There are some similarities between the story arc of Gentle and that of Roland Deschain. Both characters go on a long, world-spanning journey, looking for answers about the Universe and themselves. Both characters reach their destinations, although the final reveal is a surprise. They both also develop and grow as individuals in the course of their travels, arguably learning more from the journey than they will when they finally get where they are going.

Throughout his epic voyage, Gentle is presented with many opportunities to practice the Virtues, particularly Compassion, Patience, and Self-Control. At first, he is completely obsessed with taking anything he wants and deliberately avoiding any self-reflection, but his responses to these situations grow and change as he does. Finally, he remembers who he truly is and embraces the Virtues that were within him from the beginning. He finds out that he is a powerful sorcerer who attempted to unify all the Dominions, trying to make it as easy to pass from one to another as crossing the street. But he fails, and his failure drives him to wipe the entire episode from his memory. In a fit of despair, he dismisses his most faithful servant to become, in his words, “an assassin or a whore,” and dooms the poor creature to become both. Then he hid himself away in our Dominion, the only one still isolated from the others, and lived here oblivious of what he had done. But his unfinished business catches up with him, and he is forced to confront his own past, including a clone that he forgot he created.

Anyone who has invested their time, energy, and emotions into a project or work of art can understand Gentle’s desire to never think of it again when he fails to unify the Dominions. But it is through our failures that we learn and grow as artists and creators of all kinds. All of our work, whether it fails or succeeds, is a part of who we are and shapes our character. Sometimes the thing we create will never see the light of day, but it is still important to remember where we went wrong, and what we may do differently next time. Gentle tried to run and hide from the lessons of his failure, leaving behind both chaos and unfinished business. We must accept our own failures with Patience and Serenity, and be willing to learn from them.

Have you ever tried to create something that did not work? What lessons did you learn from that failure?

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