Rubric: -Stephen Asma defines religious imagination as “a way of understanding the world and ourselves, that draws upon our visual and narrative capacities (underwritten by perceptual and cognitive faculties.)” and then adds “the religious imagination sees the world as it is, but also a second universe, infusing the facts.” Asma proceeds to clarify what he means, arguing “we are wrong to think that imagination is only a fantasy fabricator.” (10-11). Indeed, he contends that “imagination has epistemic power – that is to say, power to construct knowledge and change behavior.” (11). Asma will advance the notion that while imagination can be used to generate unreality, it can also investigate, synthesize, and motivate behavior. In brief, he believes “the religious imagination is a mediating faculty between facts and values on the one hand, and cognition and affect on the other.” (11) He will say that religious imagination can do several positive things. It can “help us find empathy for other people,…..envision a social reality where greater social justice exists….(and) organize our daily lives and institutions to bring about those ideals.” He is also aware that religious imagination can have a negative result. It can, he says, envision nightmare scenarios that tear communities apart and foster an “us versus them” dynamic.” -I want you to write an essay either affirming or refuting Asma’s understanding of what religious imagination is and what religious imagination does. You may, of course, be nuanced in your assessment (agree with some things, disagree with others). Every essay MUST make use of at least ONE origin story, and include use of specific scenes from Field of Dreams, Life of Pi, The Matrix, and The Handmaid’s Tale to support your points. -Better essays will also incorporate the academic materials we used to study origin stories, the formation of identity, to understand what narrative is and how it functions, to ponder the ideas of consciousness and reality, and to explore dystopias.

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