I know I am not supposed to be talking about explicitly Christian topics, but, once again, I cannot help it, I see it all over the place and I just have to put this down on paper or I will burst to pieces. Besides, I made the rules of this blog and rules are meant to be broken (Did I just write that? Go away Nietzsche, no one likes you, really.) (You can now realize how long this post has been a draft.)
I hate the cheesy Christian commercials as much as the next guy, but sometimes I felt a little bad about using the word “hate.” Hate, after all, is the rightful response to sin, so saying that you hate something, albeit in a very bad, unexciting, and silly way, that is trying to bring people to Christianity is a little self-contradictory. I then noticed the fact that they were being self-contradictory in themselves, so it is all cool now.
What am I talking about? The ads, posters, or even people who say, “Come find God!” Right. As if God were a goldfish with a fin two sizes too small, waiting patiently along the ocean of this world for you to chance upon Him. See, my implicit theory on this is that if you are trying to bring Christianity to people, then it would help to actually know something about it. Now in this collection of books, the Bible as some call it, God says (I am paraphrasing here), “I did not choose you because you were the biggest of nations, because, in fact, you are the smallest of nations…” the “I” is God and the “you” is the people of Israel. Hmmm, curious. In fact, I have been told of a sermon from a Baptist preacher which may be the second most concise thing anyone has ever said. It goes like this, “The Bible can be summed up in six words, ‘I am God, you are not.'” Some of you may not see it yet, we’ll give it one more try. God is commonly referred to in the bible as “Father,” but next to it there are other epithets, such as Husband (Song of Solomon, among other places) and Hunter. What does this mean? Well, for some background info on this topic, you can look at my “Feminism, Human Nature, the Nature of the Divine, and Marriage” post, because I do not want to be redundant, but the imagery given off in both “the Hunter” and “the Husband” is one of active seeking. In olden days, when the lines among the lover and the beloved were more defined than they are now (not that I am complaining), the lover was always the one pursuing and the beloved the one being pursued, so, when the Bible refers to “Husband” it means an active pursuer. As for the imagery of “Hunter,” I hope I do not have to comment, because if you don’t see it there, then no words can help you.
Of course, some of you may be thinking at this point, “So what?” Well, that’s partly why I wanted to write this post and this gets to Platonism too, so, win win. This gets also at the issue of priestesses within the Church (but I will not be talking about that, no matter how much I want to), namely, the idea that the imagery is all wrong. One of the most powerful means of conveying complicated ideas is by imagery. Only last night I was talking to one of my friends about an article he is writing, arguing that Fascism is a better choice than Communism to the 1938 German mind (I don’t know, deep stuff), and at some point we come to an argument where one could either assign a certain function to the soul, or otherwise chemicals within the brain. So, I delivered to him my wind and trees argument from G. K. Chesterton. Basically, it states that we, as rational adults, know that there is such a thing as wind, which is invisible to the eye and yet real and that it is this invisible wind that causes the branches in trees to shake. Now, a child, seeing empirically that there are branches moving in the air, could deduce logically that it is those branches in particular that are causing air molecules to hit him in the face. He told me, “Yeah, but you can measure wind empirically, too.” If you don’t get why that comment makes no sense, then you are part of the problem, I am the rehab clinic, welcome.
Platonic dialogues are full of images. In fact, Platonic dialogues ARE images. What does that mean? If you have read the Phaedrus, you will find a very puzzling myth that Socrates tells (treated more in depth in “Writing”), specifically that writing may end the human mind, because we will resort to writing everything down and remembering nothing, which will result in ending thinking (it is a lot like having a calculator, but no numbers). In fact, the reason why there are so few Platonists in the modern world, because a lot of people do not understand the images contained in the works of Plato and the grand image that the works of Plato are, that is to say, they are all a stair-step to becoming a philosopher.
At any rate, back to the problem with images. We have lost our understanding of them so much that we have reversed them. For example, who has not heard, “God is like a father,” (I am speaking to the Christian portion of my audience here). Well, let us figure out who is the object and who is the metaphor here. What we mean to say, of course, is that our fathers are supposed to be like God. This is a tall order for any man, you say, read Matthew 5, I respond. God is the real thing, our fathers are the metaphor. That’s the key, God is. Of course, it is useful for us to say, “God is like a father,” to explain the point we are trying to convey about God, but that does not mean we should forget the object to begin with. It makes a lot of sense if you really think about it, because a father is an instantaneous authority figure and, for most people who have a good father, a role model. That is supposed to help the transition from understanding who your earthly father is to having an imagery for the ultimate creator, the true Father of everyone and everything.
Well, you either see it or you do not, which is fine, but, do me and yourself a favor, if you hear those people telling you to go find God, please tell them to read what they are holding on their hands before they presume they are qualified to preach on in.