I photoshopped this photo to go with my metaphor below about: literalism, “God’s Word” and drydocks. My metaphorical story was ‘inspired’ by my recent visit to a few Christian blogs where the authors railed against anyone seeing Bible stories as anything but literally true. Treating this distorted way of thinking is a critical starting point to improving the Christianity of many believers. I generated this story in a reply on those Christian blogs — I thought some of you may enjoy seeing it:
The people who originally told stories about Noah-and-the-Ark, Jonah-and-the-Whale, and Adam-and-Eve would probably laugh uproariously if they saw how literalist have become so serious about something they merely used to get ideas across. My goodness. Or maybe they’d be happy that their tale was so persuasive. But it does makes me wonder if literalist have never made up stories for their children, or sat around campfires telling tales or ever authored a work of fiction. Or if they have, are they so Bible-Bible-Bible drenched, they can’t think straight?
Many Christians agree strongly with what I have just written — many. But many conservatives and Evangelicals dismiss such believers as “not real Christians” or “Christians deluded by ‘false teachers’ or Satan himself.”
Yet there is good reason for these literalist-Christians to fear taking a metaphorical view toward many of the Bible stories. For it would certainly weakens all sorts of anchors in meaning which literalists use to hold their boats tight against storm in their lives. Most likely those security ropes served them well in the past and even presently. Beliefs, even when false, can be very useful. But beliefs can outlive their usefulness. Sometimes people stay huddled under desks even after the storm has passed and miss out on sailing trips on beautiful seas. And don’t realize that hiding may not be necessary and if you retool your ship properly for storms you may not need to live in drydock.
Literalist Christians will of course disagree with my analogy. In fact, if skillful, they should be able to use my analogy to make their own point — thus the power of analogies. Likewise, we have all sorts of Christians using Bible stories differently than each other in order to make God speak their message — using “God” as a sock puppet.
Understanding stories, analogies, metaphors and such is a huge step needed for conservative Christians to begin seeing through their parochial black-and-white world.