Morning Musing

You can observe a clock. Then you can deconstruct it, find out what it’s made of, how it fits together, take out and observe each individual piece, consider what parts make it function, which are decorative, which are essential, and which are not. Then you can put it back together and observe it again.

You can observe a cat. Then you can deconstruct it, find out what it’s made of, how it fits together, take out and observe each individual piece, consider what parts make it function, which are decorative, which are essential, and which are not. But you can’t put it back together and observe it again.

Now, how are spiritual texts like clocks—and how are they like cats?

5 Replies to “Morning Musing”

  1. I’m not much of a cat person, but I suspect that both the inspiration and the interpretation of scripture are more organic than mechanical. It is a “living” word after all.

  2. But if one can’t put it back together again, then of what value is the analysis? If I find out what THIS word means, but can’t figure out its relation to the NEXT word, I’m simply stuck.

    I remember a line from Julian where she says (in Middle English) “althowe synne is not EVER the cause” — sounds okay — BUT I realized that the Middle English “ever” usually translates as “always” so the line then becomes “although sin is not ALWAYS the cause” — a very different meaning. And if I couldn’t have put it together again, I wouldn’t have known that.

    So, I opt for the clock metaphor — I think the “vitality” of a verse arises once its technical (clock-ish) meaning seems clear and one turns to APPLYING it in one’s own present life.

  3. Oh, I think it’s a both/and. Part of the issue—and where my next step leads—is the question of destructiveness. Are there moments or techniques of dismembering a text that leave us incapable of experiencing it in wholeness again?

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