The Other I

January 22, 2013

Not sure I know what you mean…

So explain again how comparing apples and oranges is fruitless?

(Andertoons Comics)

Children don’t usually begin to understand metaphors much before the age of 6 or 7.  Until then, they tend to interpret everything they hear  solely in literalist terms.  I know a child who thought, when her mother said her dad was late for dinner because he was “tied up on the road” thought he has been delayed by men with ropes.

Similarly one of the most profound disagreements between fundamentalist and traditional Christians is whether the bible should always be understood literally or whether it is sometimes more accurate to interpret it metaphorically.



  1. Ahhhh….. one of my favourite frustrations with kids’ talks in church – oh the futility of metaphors! I just wish they would tell a bible story, kind of “raw” and let it sit there as it is – rather than drawing a metaphorical point – that God is like a light… or something and the simile dies.
    Language forces everything to be a metaphor – and even if one is pretty much a fundamentalist, the fact that everything is metaphorical is kind of … a fact.
    So, as a Christian I believe that Jesus is God’s Son. But even I think there’s a WHOLE lot of metaphor going on in there…. Son? in what sense? – the fact is there are infinite senses that can be read in – but – I think – no matter what the state of affairs may or may not be – I get the POINT – I get the IDEA – I think I know what the writer theologians are driving at. I am of course bringing my own ideas of sonship into play – even my own relationship with my own son – and my own father – and all my understandings of life are brought into play in my brain – so when I hear John 3 16, I can understand it, think it is true and know that we are in the realms of metphors. And I happen to think that the thrust of the image… is true….


    Comment by sanstorm — January 22, 2013 @ 7:00 pm | Reply

    • It may surprise you to know how much we are in agreement. Not only language, but the nature of human thought and experience opens up the floodgates of metaphor. Personally, I think that it a great gift. Metaphor enables us to think so far beyond the concrete and physical realities of our sensory experience. And in truth, I think the depth, the truth, the transcendent beauty of much that is in the bible is only revealed when it is understood metaphorically.

      And I know you have said that you are a fundamentalist. But in the world I come from, there’s no way you qualify! A true fundamentalist from my world could never have written the comment you have just contributed.

      Thank you so much. Terry


      Comment by Terry Sissons — January 22, 2013 @ 9:00 pm | Reply

      • I know. American Christianity is a whole other ball game.


        Comment by sanstorm — January 24, 2013 @ 11:58 am

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