Monday, 14 November 2016

A cartoonist's view?

The view from the top of St George’s tower today can be compared with earlier views here.

We were on the tower as telecommunication equipment was being removed.

We got one year’s rent before the equipment’s owner discovered that it was badly positioned to pick up the necessary signals.

Make of that what you will as I type on.

Meanwhile, I have long thought, and sometime preach, that Jesus’ would have made a fine cartoonist.

You only need to imagine a simple drawing of someone leaning over a friend’s face and carefully using the corner of a handkerchief to take a speck from his eye while a plank protrudes from his own eye.

Or an outsized needle with a camel’s nose crunched up against it with the caption ‘Nothing is impossible to God’.

When we know we are looking at a modern cartoon, we recognise the convention that it is the exaggerated features which (whilst they can be misused to be cruel) bring clarity.

Which always raises the question about the place of apparent exaggeration in so much else of Jesus’ teaching, possibly following Aramaic conventions we can no longer access.  

If we label them as hyperbole, we are in danger of saying he didn't mean any of it and ducking the impact.

If we take them in any plain contemporary sense, we are in danger of treating scripture as if it was some sort of factual manual and we would all be maimed and hate our parents.

If we see them as cartoon, we may instead subject ourselves to the clarity of the message.

All of which is to avoid posting directly about what keeps me awake at night. 

Is there any other course now than patiently to repeat the self evident?

That the consensus of scientists is to be trusted.

That hard worn progress towards treating people with equal dignity in language and deed has not gone too far.

That the impact of globalisation cannot be avoided by retreating into an imagined past nor behind a barrier.

That the way we treat the apparent outsider is as definitive of who we as anything else.

That the harsh manufactured bravado of gameshow competitiveness is not a recommended model for social relating let alone political choosing.

That it is incredible that any of this needs saying, needs patient repeating, needs to attract wider ownership.

That the prophets of ancient Israel and the Galilean cartoonist have had sharply clear things to say about much of it already.

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