The overall theology of the project is simple – and I have no intention or desire to make it anything else. As the work gets going more theological reflection will become obvious but for now I’d like to share something that we so often miss but those outside the church do not.
Just recently I have been studying Esther and now I am looking at parables in general. Some scholars think Esther was an historical event. Others think it was a parable and others a metaphor. Looking at the Gospels it is easy to see just how powerful the parables are especially when they challenge our heart-felt opinions and long-held theology. I have met a few people lately who talk about the Good Samaritan as an actual event with a real life priest and Samaritan. For them it has become a real event. It wasn’t a real event even though it was a true one.
I recently met a psychotherapist whose main work involves dance and a therapist who uses drama. Both use metaphor in order to unlock the hidden events that have chained their clients in dark places. Metaphor works because it allows us to look at a situation as an observer and see our plight objectively, taking ourselves out of the ghastly picture that is otherwise too vile to look at. Instead, standing at a safe distance allows people to see the truth. The psychotherapist allows her clients to use dance as a metaphor for their lives; the drama therapist allows himself to be used as an actor in a play so the client can work out their own pain – only it’s not their play because it’s just a metaphor.
Our bible is full of parable and metaphor. These Biblical stories are used by the authors to play out our own lives right before our very eyes and allow us to touch our inner selves in a safe way, gently giving us permission to see ourself without a melt down in our own time. They challenge and exaggerate until we are ready to look at ourselves safely.
I have used metaphor, story and parable in services but it’s only recently that I’ve discovered just how powerful they are. A story which is about someone else – but actually it’s about us. Those who work with people whose wellbeing is not so good already know this and use it to unlock those of us trapped in the Gadarenes.