JR and Eco

I was reading JR Brigg’s blog this morning and enjoyed reading his thoughts after sky-diving and then conoeing in the vicinity of Pike’s Peak in Colorado. While there has been quite a bit of talk about perspective, JR has a good comment that brings some balance to the “relativity vs. absolute” conversation that just needs to end if it hasn’t already:

I think its important for us to consider the importance of gaining different perspectives of God so as to appreciate his majesty and character – different views yet the same impressive God. This isn’t some philosophy of relativity or ‘who’s-to-say-what’s-rght-or-wrong?’ viewpoint. God’s Truth is God’s Truth, but different perspectives can unveil elements of truth I was unaware of previously.

Thinking of a mountain as a metaphor for the truth, or even for God, is helpful. We do not construct truth exactly. God himself is the truth, God gives us commands, and he’s wired us to somehow know some basic things about right and wrong to a certain extent. And yet the truth can be vague, hard to grasp at times, and dependent on perspective.

And so we have our mountain. We can see it from a variety of perspectives. Whether we hike it or view it from town we will still never know what’s inside of it exactly. And we can only really see it from one place at a time. That imposes some limitations on us.

All of this reminds me of a quote from Umberto Eco that my wife shared with me. Eco is a literary critic who’s been a part of the conversations about deconstruction. As an aside, if you dislike the Da Vinci Code and want to read how an atheist debunks such nonsense, Eco’s book Foucault’s Pendulum is a must-read. In any case, Eco stated in an essay that while the reader has a crucial role in interpreting a passage (perspective), the intent of the author has a critical place that cannot be ignored. In other words, we must give head to the importance of perspective, while not making the act of reading/interpretation a free-for-all without boundaries.

This of course is a lot easier to write about than to practice. It’s all too easy to either focus solely on what a text does for you that you forget the author or to fastidiously study what the author meant that you forget about yourself. Perhaps reading is more like a conversation at times?

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