Thursday, October 8, 2009

Church and Language

In the church we use metaphors and similes and analogies to approach the indescribable. In that practice we are following a long tradition that began in the Pentateuch, used by Jesus, and maintained by the church. A problem with this approach is that the church gets stuck using language that has little meaning. So people are then in a position where they need to give context to the metaphor before the metaphor makes sense: “you need to remember this was a herder culture…to have a king meant…” And in doing that the metaphor loses its power. Like a joke that needs to be explained, explaining a metaphor takes it out of its moment of Ah-hah! We understand, but its ability to reveal truth is lessened.

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