Sunday, January 28, 2007

Spiritual Communication

One of the reasons I began this blog is that so often we get bogged down in the rhetoric of doctrine and dogma and we miss the spiritual experience. One illustration that has been helpful for me to tell the difference is the picture of someone pointing to the moon. The object is to be able to see the moon and so often I get stuck looking at the finger.

I remember having a history teacher who had the habit of pointing out things on the blackboard with his middle finger. In a religious school this was bigger deal than it should have been, but it became a distraction from learning history.

We had a Japanese exchange student send us pictures, before he came, so that we could get to know him. He came from a very conservative Japanese family and was studying to be an English teacher. He thought he knew American culture and was trying to fit in. If you have seen some typical Japanese friendship shots, they usually do the peace sign. As we were flipping through the pictures we came along one with him and his friends all giving us the middle finger falling all over themselves with big smiles. I thought is was pretty funny, but there was some doubt about what we were getting ourselves into.

Once we met him, it became apparent that he didn't know what it meant at all or he sent us the wrong picture. We actually had to explain it to him after which he was horrified. I thought it better that he knew, so if he decided to make another such picture, it might reach its intended audience.

In all these cases the "finger" or the method of communication became the message and the "moon" continued to be unobserved.

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