For 2,000 years countless people around the world viewed reality through a Christian lens that endowed their lives with meaning, purpose, and coherence. Today, in an era of unprecedented secularization, many have ceased to find meaning not only in Christianity but in life in general. In Converting the Imagination, the author offers a probing analysis of this crisis of meaning, marshalling historical and psychological research to shed light on the connections among the disintegration of the Christian worldview, religious disaffiliation, and a growing mental health epidemic. As a response Manning presents an approach to religious education that is at once traditionally grounded in the model of Jesus’ own teaching and augmented by modern educational research and cognitive science. Converting the Imagination is an invitation to transform the way we teach about faith and make sense of the world, an invitation that echoes Jesus’ invitation to a fuller, more meaningful life. It is sure to captivate scholars and practitioners of religious education, ministers seeking to re-engage people who have drifted away from the faith or to support young people suffering from existential anxiety, and anyone in search of deeper meaning in their religious traditions or in their own lives. Read a Q&A with the author and an excerpt from the book here.


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Finalist for the 2021 Lilly Fellows Program Book Award


“When Jesus began a parable—as he so often did—with ‘the reign of God is like . . .’ he was surely engaging people’s imaginations, inviting them to begin with their own reality and to imagine from there their way forward into the reign of God. This is the pedagogy that Pat Manning favors in Converting the Imagination. In our era, when people find ‘reasoning’ less persuasive, engaging their imaginations is a crucial strategy for educating-in-faith. Manning does this very well!”

—Thomas Groome, Professor of Theology and Religious Education at Boston College and author of Sharing Faith


“In Converting the Imagination Patrick Manning balances the rigorous research of a scholar and the personal touch of a master teacher. It is common for religion teachers and catechists to focus on memorization of definitions and doctrines without inspiring the hearts and minds of the people they teach. Manning’s SEE approach provides a great way to ignite the Christian imaginations of the generations of people starving for meaning and purpose in life.”

Jared Dees, Founder of


“In this thought-provoking book—a must-read for all who are interested in the intersection of faith, pastoral practice, and contemporary culture—Dr. Manning shows how present-day Christian religious educators can tap the imagination to foster conversation and ongoing personal and social transformation. In the process, he discusses how we can develop a sustaining religious vision for our lives as we navigate the turbulent waters of pluralistic, postmodern culture.”

—Harold D. Horell, Professor of Religious Education, Fordham University


“Patrick Manning has synthesized a practical three-part educational approach to the Infinite. Inviting educators to trust the power of [religious] symbols, he shows them how to reenchant the imaginations of learners. While he takes into account relevant writings in philosophy, theology, Scripture, transformative learning, developmental psychology, religious education, and imagination, Manning’s ground is always his students—real people struggling to navigate meaning in a postmodern world. While intended for religious educators, this book will also serve arts and literature teachers.”

—Eileen Daily, Director of Doctor of Ministry Program, Boston University