From the Daily Office Lectionary for Tuesday in the week of Proper 11, Yr 1 (Pentecost 8, 2015)
Mark 4:30 [Jesus] said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it?”
This is the question, isn’t it? (Emphasis on “the”!) This is the religious question. At the heart of every religion, every spirituality, every theology is the experience of the [power, force, spirit, god, structure, law, probability] that [undergirds, overshadows, creates, sustains, regulates, controls, defines] everything that is. What follows that experience is the question of how to communicate it: what [parable, metaphor, simile, comparison] do we use? Demonstrating the difficulty of even asking the question, Jesus uses a metaphor to do so, i.e., “kingdom of God.” ~ The unfortunate next step seems always to be to concretize one or more of our metaphors or comparisons: this has been done in Christianity with Jesus’ term here, “kingdom of God,” so that any alternative metaphor (“dominion,” “realm,” “commonwealth”) is sometimes greeted with derision and claims of heresy. Even worse is are challenges to the metaphor “Father,” despite the venerable history of the alternative “Mother” in Christian spirituality. Concretized metaphors are, themselves, the stuff of heresy; we must abandon them. ~ The philosopher Paul Feyerabend was not the first (though perhaps one of the most succinct) in observing that “Ultimate Reality, if such an entity can be postulated, is ineffable.” Jesus’ question (and ours) is, “How do we eff the ineffable?” The first step, I think, is to let go of our effin’ metaphors.
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