How do our beliefs impact public life?
Is Imagine Chicago a spiritual project?
Rev. Dan Hartnett SJ from Loyola with Dr. Martin Marty

Rev. Dan Hartnett SJ from Loyola with Dr. Martin Marty

Faith & Public Life

God's Imagination for the City (1993)  

What might it mean for a city to see itself as a whole, make new civic connections and encourage public imagination? In 1993, Imagine Chicago conducted a series of eight public forums for six downtown churches on Chicago as a context for God’s imagination.  Each evening included dinner, a presentation on some aspect of city life (economic, political, social, artistic, etc.) and an interactive community conversation on the topic. Eight local artists were invited to ”re-member Chicago’s body”, visually representing their understanding of one section of a to-be-connected body. Each week another section of the body was joined together and a new perspective on Chicago discussed.  This “Exquisite Corpus of Chicago” captured Chicago’s beauty, diversity and vitality in visual form and drew attention to the importance of imagination in thinking about Chicago.


Sacred Spaces, Public Spaces (1996) 

Imagine Chicago, in collaboration with religious and community groups, and cultural institutions, invited urban dwellers to share stories of their sacred places and find those they have in common. Throughout the spring and summer of 1996, through events, conversations and their products (exhibits, lectures, poetry readings, tours, writing workshops, public rituals) participants clarified and shared how they thought about “sacred space” and went public with the understanding. The program explored important linkages between spirituality and public life and the community-creating power of “sacred places” in the life of a city. Constituencies wrestled together with how to connect sacred, public and place, and to identify places that evoke mystery, fascination, and function as life-giving community symbols.


Faith in the City (2000) 

This joint venture between Imagine Chicago, Loyola University and the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange involved six public lecture/discussion forums in 2000 on the dynamic interplay of faith and the city. A primary goal was to better understand how faith contributes to the creation and transformation of a city and how the city is a privileged place for an enlarged understanding of faith. A second goal was to foster urban theological reflection that would renew and sustain social practice: to develop questions, skills and arts that enabled participants to continue the conversation on faith and city within their neighborhoods, organizations and working groups. Dance was integrated so participants experienced arts as connecting faith to social action and activism, moving from faith to engagement. The program culminated in a celebration of community transformers at the Field Museum which brought together supporters and beneficiaries of all of Imagine Chicago’s programs, which can be viewed below. The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation funded the series. A detailed program description is available here .

Final event of Imagine Chicago's Faith in the City program 2000