Apple will release a new operating system this September for the iphone and ipad. It's called IOS 7, which, as you might have guessed is the seventh version of its operating system for these devices. Word on the street, aka the internet, is that unlike previous upgrades this will be a whole new look, feel, indeed way of operating. Primarily, Apple is shanging the metaphors. In the past, when you opened "Notepad" you found a little yellow pad with lines. THis was a metaphor for, well, a notepad. In the new version, Apple has decided that we are all native now. We don't need those references to the old ways of doing things, we know we are in a digital world now. At least, that is there operating assumption, I call is OA 2.
Now, before you go thinking, 'wow, dis bishop, he a really smaaaart guy,' I must confess that what I've just written is a synopsis of a commentary I heard on Fresh Air today. They have a new technology correspondent, Alexis Madrigal, and he outlined this understanding of metaphor. He's the wicked smaaaart guy. You can listen or read the essay here.
(I'm writing this in the middle of a storm, so if I loose power - I'll complete it later.)
What I find fascinating about this work is a) Apple is now assuming that we are all natives to this technology. b) They are just going to do it c) According to Madrigal, Apple states that moving into the new operating system will be fairly smooth.
How old is this technology? Oh, ah the original iphone is 6 years old, and it is now considered obsolete. Six years! And they are changing the metaphors on us. I love it.
SO what about our metaphors in the church life? Let's start with God. Whoa, stop right there Mr. Bishop, are you saying God is a metaphor. No, I'm not saying God is a metaphor, but those three letters I just wrote G O D. Those letters, put in that particular order, that's a metaphor for something, someone we are attempting to describe. But, as Kierkegaard remind us, "the God that can be known is not God." What I'm trying to say, in my own inept way, is that when we speak or write or use language of any kind, we are not in fact touching that ultimate reality that is the ground of all being. So, yes, the letters G O D are a metaphor, for something that cannot be described.
The downside of this shorthand language that we use to attempt to describe the source of all life, and light and love and hope in the universe, is that we can very easily fall into the trap of an increasingly narrow view of God.
Should we change our metaphor? Ah, that would be a no, not in the ultimate sense. But, I do believe we need to expand our language so that we don't stay locked in on one vision of God. A quick search for the names or images of God in scripture reveals a great deal to choose from:
king, judge, shepherd, rock, lion, fortress, friend, father, co-worker, potter, wind, breath, vine, light, farmer, old woman, mother hen, bride-groom, fountain, gate, water, bread, fire.
A quick search of images of god in the Bible on Google images yielded some interesting choices.
The Breath of God. Ruach in Hebrew. Wind. Hmmmmm, What would Google say?
So, I'm taking a page from Apple, and expanding my metaphors, as I seek to understand and articulate something, about someone who cannot ultimately be described, but to simply stop and say, oh why bother, that won''t do either, so let's go forward, knowing that we'll get some clues along the way, and ruach will be there, whether we name it or not.
P.S. Run on sentence intentional.