Resourcing Those Who Understand the Times

Michael Metzger

Last week we announced an upcoming change to our blog. Why the change? Sustainability. But there’s a far more important reason. It’s has to do with our tagline.

I founded Clapham Institute in 2002. Over the years we’ve routinely sharpened our mission. Our tagline now reads: resourcing those who understand the times. It’s a reference to the sons of Issachar, 200 scholars in the tribe of Issachar after the conquest of Canaan. They studied the Torah, cultural trends, and the physical sciences. Due to their great learning, the sons of Issachar understood the times, so they knew what Israel should do.

This sequence—understand the times, create solutions—aligns with how Wordsworth and Coleridge defined imagination. Wordsworth said imagination is neither “just” seeing nor “just” creating. It’s both/and. We co-create (with the Creator God) out of that which we perceive to be real. We “half create, and what perceive,” is how Wordsworth put it.[1]

Coleridge clarified this by distinguishing between Primary Imagination (perception) and Secondary Imagination (co-creation). Primary precedes Secondary. Coleridge would say we create things based on how we perceive reality. Imagination is half perceive, half create, with perception coming first. If we don’t rightly perceive the times in which we live, the things we create will invariably deviate from God’s design. This applies to things we create in the arts, businesses… even our churches. It also applies to things that so deviate from God’s design as to become destructive to our humanity. Smartphones come to mind.

This view of imagination is why we’re changing. Next Monday, our website will be closed and all subscribers shifted to Substack. My blog’s title will be changed to Widening Our Imagination. Faith is described as “a widening of the imagination.” Imagination is perceiving, then creating, so I seek to widen how Christians perceive the times in which we live, helping them discover what might be beneficial ways forward in our post-Christian world.

That’s why it’s closer to the mark to say I’m focusing on today’s sons of Judah. Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox leaders say Western Christianity is in exile, operating outside our society’s spheres of influence. Many of them see the Babylonian exile as our precedent. In that exile, God sent an estimated 14,000 to 18,000 Judeans into Babylon. Most refused to recognize exile. The sons of Judah did recognize reality. They learned the language and literature of Babylon so that they could do what God told the nation of Judah to do in exile. These sons of Judah have been called the creative minority. My calling is to resource this minority, whom some call spiritual entrepreneurs.

That’s why we’re shifting. I’m happy to send all subscribers one column a month (for free). Those who donate are signaling they seek to become sons and daughters of Judah. They’ll receive all the blogs posted every month. I have no idea how many subscribers will donate, but I’m following the Apostle Paul’s axiom that if what we invest in others proves to be beneficial, it’s not too much to ask these recipients to donate. So, between today and February 4, if you want to be upgraded to become a financial supporter, click this link. Select the amount and click “monthly.” On and after February 5, you can upgrade on Substack.

I’m fascinated to see what comes of this change. After the first post of the month, the remaining posts that month will be in response to problems and challenges that donors face as they pray and seek the flourishing of the city. I’m good at reframing problems, so I’ll do my best to reframe problems submitted and see if we uncover helpful solutions.

Donors will also be invited to join a writing project we’re doing similar to The Inklings. We’re writing a series of books titled: Widen Our Imagination. The first book’s sub-title is Recovering the Gospel that’s Wondrously Beautiful. Donors are invited to join this project.

I close with something Iain McGilchrist writes in The Matter With Things: “Truth requires imagination.” He suggests that how Wordsworth and Coleridge define imagination “aligns perfectly with what we know of the hemispheres.” The right brain perceives, the left creates. For anyone to know what’s real, the right must lead and the left must follow for the right hemisphere is “a more reliable guide than the left to put us in touch with reality.” Good news, except for the fact that we live in a world where the left brain leads.

I could try to explain how this came about, but we’d end up talking about the Matrix, and unfortunately, no one can be told what the Matrix is. You have to see it for yourself. You have to take the red pill.

That’s my first Substack post next Monday. Hope to see you then.


[1] Wordsworth, “Lines composed a few moles about Tintern Abbey, on revisiting the banks of the Wye during a tour, July 13, 1798.”


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  1. Mike, when you mentioned Coleridge and perception, I was reminded of C.S. Lewis’s remarks about the waterfall in The Abolition of Man–whether perceiving the waterfall as sublime was a case of recognizing its true quality or only recognizing one’s feelings about it. Clearly, what we perceive must be based on what is true and real before we can move on from there.

  2. Mike, when you mentioned Coleridge and perception, I was reminded of C.S. Lewis’s discussion of Coleridge and the waterfall in The Abolition of Man–whether calling the waterfall sublime was a recognition of its inherent beauty or only a measure of the beholder’s feelings. Clearly, it’s important that perception of a thing be true and real before moving on to the next step.

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