- Name: Daniel
- Location: Colorado, United States
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Illustration Friday - Flavor
Q and A Thursday
|Question from Emily: "Tell me, what is a sentence from page 217 of your 350 page autobiography? (assuming it was written at the very end of your life?)"|
answer with a comment.
Walk on Water
|During a Bible Study/hang-with-friends-night last summer we were talking about whether or not the Bible stories are true historical facts or metaphors/myths that may or may not have a foundation in actual history. At one point it was said that either it is ALL historical fact or it is ALL metaphor. We then began to discuss specific stories and apply the differing interpretations to each one. We became stuck on the "walking on water" story from the New Testament. Nick stated that, long ago, a nun at his school told him that it did not matter if Jesus walked on water or not- what mattered is that Jesus overcame the sin of the world and his walking on water is a symbol of his conquering the evil in the world. The written responses that follow are some of what was exchanged between two of us as a result of that discussion.|
Please take a look and add your thoughts as a comment!
Person One: "Nicks nun is right. The water is symbolic b/c that is the language of the heart-the spirit. This is not far from the discussion of the letter of the law vs. the spirit of the law. The letter is still needed b/c we are not yet fully perfect/transcendent/immaterial, but it is the spirit of the law that is the nutrients. The letter (the history) is the gel coating around the pill(medicine), the walls and ceiling of the house, the clay of the clay jug – these things are important only as they serve to house the usable space within. They carry the message like our body carries our soul. Again, metaphor and myth are the language of the heart. The factual reality or historical accuracy of events are important on one level but not on THE LEVEL. The biblical stories are not just stories, they are myths and myths are TRUE in a way that is more important than anything in a history textbook. Myths are not stories in that they are not fabricated like a syndicated comic strip. Like a dream they are not scripted by the dreamer – rather they arise from that mysterious substance within. A myth is the dream of a people <- that is far more than a story written by some reflective dude with some sweet insights. So we return to: Did he walk on water? Sure. Is he the only one to have walked on water? No. Does it matter historically? Only in the sense that we are both spirit and body and the without the physical contact we’ve got just a part of the picture. What do we need to focus on? We need to focus on what the Nun said. After thoughtful reflective meditation on Jesus walking on water the Nun recognizes the rich symbolic/metaphorical message within the act. That metaphor is the rich and useable space within the “fact” that incubates our spiritual transformation."
Person Two: "I can visualize Nick’s nun story very clearly—here is a young man whose fresh, new mind has been ordered and structured in the time-honored pattern of education: by being given nice, easy black-and-white absolutes (ie, “Jesus walked on water. Don’t think about it, just accept it”). Nick’s mind is stronger and more fertile than most, though, and he sees a problem—“how is it that everything I’ve learned about the Bible says that this Man walked on water, but everything I’ve learned about science says, the miracle of surface tension aside, water is a liquid whose molecular density makes it incapable of supporting an object with greater molecular density?” Being the thinker that he is, he realizes that these two are mutually exclusive—they can’t both be true, and therefore one must be thrown out. “Well, that’s an easy one. “I’ve put enough crap into water (literally and figuratively—ha ha) to know that the density thing is true, but I have never seen a man walk on water.” Enter wise old(er) nun. Back in the Nun Cave, the Scepticism Board lights up like an Anglican Christmas tree. This nun is older and more experienced, which on its own means nothing. More importantly, she sees in this young man the richness of his mind, and most importantly, she recognizes the theological crisis he is having as perhaps reminiscent of her own. A lot time, a lot of thought, a lot of prayer, and maybe even a wise mentor got her through to the other side of hers, and on the journey she came to realize that without the Space Within, the clay pot would implode. The spiritual reality inside exerts precisely the same outward pressure as the clay pot exerts inwardly, and so balance is achieved. Her great fear though, the thing that causes her heart to leap when she sees the Nick light flashing, is that his pot has clearly solidified faster than the others, and if she doesn’t rush in and fill that sucker with some Space Within, its imbalance might actually cause it to crack and collapse, sending Nick on a lifelong journey of frustrated agnosticism, or worse, Libertarianism. Nick’s crisis called for quick action, and the nun called on all her years of experience to take it. She explained to him the cool stuff about the Space Within, took his focus off the cracking and imploding pot and put it squarely on the mysterious symbolism of myth. As Nick himself says, he was rescued, liberated from the crumbling cliff and taught how to fly. I love the Space Within, and have found it to be as liberating as Nick (or you) did. In fact, when I spent two years in college majoring in computer science and physics, I realized that my Space Within was starving. I became an English teacher, not because I wanted to be a crusader for proper grammar, not because I wanted to teach the teeming masses the craft of writing, not because I wanted to impress everyone with how many authors and works of literature I could drop into casual conversation, but indeed because I simply believed in the power of myth and wanted to explore its mysteries. I am deeply and profoundly aware of the symbolism of Jesus’ stroll across the water. I understand that what the water represents is as important to the allegory as the fact that an earth-bound mammal defied physics to walk on it. But I believe in the historical fact that Jesus actually did walk on water across the Sea of Galilee to the boat in which Peter quaked in terror. More importantly, I believe that the symbolism enclosed therein is NOT more important than that historical fact, any more than the Space Within is more important than the clay pot that surrounds it. How is minimizing the physical historical fact in order to emphasize the spiritual Space Within any different from minimizing the symbolism in favor of the literal? To lean too heavily to either side is to define imbalance. To a blind world whose only comprehension is the pot itself, one must place more emphasis on the Space Within in a desperate (futile?) effort to achieve balance, or at least to get it (the blind world) to even imagine there is an imbalance to begin with. But it’s all tottering on the tip of the cone. Simple poorly-educated fisherman Peter saw a literal storm, physical helplessness and impending death. Jesus walked to him on the water, not to show him a cool trick, but to introduce to his literal mind the temporal nature of the physical world. However, it seems to me that His intent was not to instruct Peter to leave or dismiss the physical world, but rather it was to point out the imbalance in Peter’s understanding. But Jesus HAD to actually, physically, historically walk on water for the same reason that we HAVE to have an actual physical relationship with a woman in order to understand love. We can talk all day about the abstract symbolism of love, but without the warmth and immediacy of a physical embrace, our understanding would be unbalanced because we (at this moment) are physical creatures. Jesus Himself was never married and never had any type of romantic or physical relationship with a woman. Why? Because in embodying perfect balance, He doesn’t need the metaphor to understand the Truth. So yes, the physical embrace of a man and a woman is a metaphor, but it’s real and literal as we know it. The blood that pours from us when we are cut is real and physical and literal, and if we lose enough of it, we will die (physically). But what is blood really? It is not life, as the ancients supposed, because one can lose all of it and die, yet continue to live. It might as well be grape juice for all its ultimate relevance to life, and yet something tells us we had better respect its indispensability lest it leak out of us and we upset the balance at the wrong time. So we return to: Did He walk on water? Sure. And that is precisely as important as the rich symbolic/metaphorical message within the act."
Lastly, a commentary by Abraham Heschel from "Between God and Man" (he is talking about the language of the Bible and how the prophets are challenged to write about things that are beyond normal... the revelations and events lend themselves more to poetic language than scientific language):“The error of literal-mindedness is in assuming that things and words only have one meaning. The truth is that things and words stand for different meanings in different situations. Gold means wealth to the merchant, a means of adornment to the jeweler, ‘a non-rusting malleable ductile metal of high specific gravity’ to the engineer, and kindness to the rhetorician (‘a golden heart’). Light is a form of energy to the physicist, a medium of loveliness to the artist, an expression of grandeur in the first chapter of the Bible. Ruah, the Hebrew word for spirit, signifies also breath, wind, direction. And he who thinks only of breath, forfeits the deeper meaning of the term. God is called father, but he who takes this name physiologically distorts the meaning of God… The meaning of words in scientific language must be clear, distinct, unambiguous, conveying the same concept to all people. In poetry, however, words that have only one meaning are considered flat… What is a virtue in scientific language is a failure in poetic expression… It often seems as if the intention of the prophets was to be understood not in one way, on one level, but in many ways, on many levels, according to the situation in which we find ourselves… Pondering about the substance of what they (the prophets) were trying to express, it dawns upon us that what sounds to us as ‘grand eloquence’ is UNDERSTEMENT and MODESTY OF EXPRESSION. Indeed their words must not be taken literally, because a literal understanding would be a partial, shallow understanding; because the literal meaning is but a MINIMUM OF MEANING.
'God spoke.' Is it to be taken symbolically: He did not speak, yet what was it he did? The truth is that what is literally true to us is a metaphor compared with what is metaphysically real to God. And when applied to Him our mightiest words are feeble understatements. The speech of God is not less but more than literally real."
Longest. Post. Ever.
MAZARIN - We're Already There (New Music)
Illustration Friday - Imagine
Words of the day:
|1. jibby (jibbeh)- a word used to describe just about anything, especially useful when doing amateur electrical wiring|
2. Wull? (or derived from: well?) - in replace of "come on!" or "what?"
Ian Love makes good music
Rules of Being a Man - random selections
27. The girl who replies to the question "What do you want for Christmas?" with "If you loved me, you'd know what I want!" gets a Play station II. End of story.
22. Never talk to a man in a bathroom unless you are on equal footing: i.e. Both urinating, both waiting in line, etc. For all other situations, an almost imperceptible nod is all the conversation you need.
12. Only in situations of moral and/or physical peril are you allowed to kick another bloke in the nuts.
Message Board culture... and i quote:
Be sure to drop aggravating pieces of non information from time to time and you'll fit right in! :)
Samantha Bonar of the LA Times -- writing about Maureen Dowd's new book, Are Men Necessary -- says she's learned that she needs only 10 monosyllabic words to effectively communicate with men.
For example: "Big strong man want beer?" "You want chips?" "You great!"
I will avoid these words like New Orleans: