Monday, June 04, 2007

A parable

NT scholar Ben Witherington has an excellent blog (though I've never got into his self-published novel), and I found this parable quite provocative. I'd love to hear what you think.

9 comments:

Benjamin Ady said...

to be perfectly honest: maudlin, schmaltzy. Sorry. Maybe I should try it again in the morning

byron said...

Yeah - I didn't say why I found it provocative, but you hit the nail on the head. It seemed to be trying to express something quite profound about the human situation (that we each find ourselves indebted to those who have gone before), but along the way attempted to justify self-sacrifice for the next generation through an image at once risable and somewhat grotesque. But that doesn't quite put the finger on it. It wasn't simply the image that struck me - there was something about the assumption behind it that made me uncomfortable, but I can't work out what or why. Any more help?

Anthony said...

Well, it's a pretty straight analogy to Babel, isn't it? The human race, building its way to heaven - and wait, in a few more generations we can reach God under our own steam!

Plus, really, BW ought to know that's no parable. The only element that it does have that's parabolic is it involved a story of some sort...

Jonathan said...

I thought something similar to Anthony. Why assume the next generation get "higher"? I'm not quite comfortable about putting it in terms of the next generation and particularly biological ansestors/descendents, either.

Drew said...

The image of the human pyramid appears in Terry Pratchett... and it is grotesque there = it's made of mummified ancestors.

Hints of John Donne, and the cloud of witnesses in Hebrews?

I find the lack of decision and choice somewhat disconcerting...

byron said...

Yes, these are all good thoughts. As I said, seeing it on BW's blog surprised me, because I find myself so often in agreement with him.

Donna said...

Well, despite what the rest of you think I thought it was wonderful.

It does risk being misinterpreted in a few ways - maybe that's what made you uncomfortable?

It's not an analogy to babel, though BW is clearly aware that this misunderstanding could happen, hence his line "This was no tower of Babel".

It's not saying that we can work our way to being with Jesus - all it says is that we see him more clearly due to the work of others. I thought it was a brilliant insight - without my parents, and especially my spiritual parents, I wonder what I would think of Jesus, whether I would know (or "see") him at all?

It's a comment on the fact that we think of ourselves as "self made" people. But none of us are.

It's beautiful to think that the person who you are, is made up of all the people that went before you - both in terms of biological ancestors, and spiritual anestors.

I particularly liked the part where he was "shocked" when his son overtook him. Having just had a son myself I'm still feeling that shock! I was thinking the other day, that my greatest hope for my son, after all the work that I have (and will) put into looking after him, is that he will Jesus more clearly.

byron said...

Thanks Donna for reminding us that there is something profound in this image, even if it is disturbing in other ways.

J. K. Jones said...

Thanks for the link!