A Whole New World: Paracosms in Christian Education

Paracosms are highly detailed, imagined worlds developed by one or more persons and revisited often. The Bronte sisters developed paracosms, and C.S. Lewis and his brother “Warnie” developed a paracosm, complete with a written history and artifacts. They didn’t return to that world after they became adults, but, of course, C.S. Lewis created imagined worlds that many of us have visited on the page and on the screen. Often, paracosms are dismissed as play, but Christians create a paracosm every time we imagine a world where people “come from north and south and east and west and sit at table in the Kingdom of God.” Paracosms can be more than entertainment. They are excellent tools for teaching everything from ethics and theology to the SEL skills that make all of us better citizens in this world. In this workshop we will consider what paracosms are, looking at some of the more famous ones in literature and the arts, as well as the research findings on individuals who develop paracosms. We’ll consider the ways that paracosms can enhance aspects of Christian Education in the church and look at strategies and prompts for helping people (including participants!) develop their own paracosms.

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Speaker: Lynn Miller