Everyone has a voice, and a choice to use it well, use it poorly, or not to use it at all.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Tuning Fork and the Harp

I have already shared this analogy with some of you. I usually am obliged to use it to explain why I sometimes ask strange questions, such as "What do you think of when you hear the world manly/womanly?"

This analogy came to me when I was speaking with my English professor after class. In class he perfectly (though not on purpose I am sure) set me up to share why I believe in God, which I did rather poorly in retrospect. He responded with “That is fine, but you’ll agree that that takes faith.” I replied “Yes, just like everything else”. After class I asked him whether, since I had elaborated the basis of my belief system, he would share with me his own. What was his solid ground, I wanted to know?

His reply was that his solid ground, the thing he has faith in, is the good of mankind. I could have pointed out one of several flaws with this “solid” ground, but instead chose to point out the interesting fact that he recognized, as if by some common standard, good and evil acts done by people, and was able to differentiate between them. I probably didn’t put it as well as I do now, having reflected on it further since then, but I explained to him this analogy that occurred to me at the time.

Imagine you are in a large room. With you in this room are a harp and a tuning fork – a C. The tuning fork is struck, the C note resounds through the room. You notice that all the C strings on the harp are vibrating ever so softly: sympathetic vibration.

Now, imagine you could not see the tuning fork, only the harp. Imagine that you couldn’t even hear the tuning fork when it was struck. If that were the case, you could still hope to find out something about the tuning fork, just by closely observing the harp. You would see the C strings begin to vibrate –and immediately, you would know that a tuning fork exists, and that it plays a C note.

God is the tuning fork. We are the strings of the harp. Though we live in a fallen and rebellious world, it is not so fallen and broken as to not retain any lasting reflection of its creator. How much more can we expect to see something of God’s image in His children, who he has regenerated and is in the process of sanctifying?

The whole point of the analogy is to encourage us to build relationships with people, and in so doing to strengthen relationship with God. As you begin to understand more of people, you will gain insight into what God might be like, and what He might have created us to be. In order to verify whether He is and did, of course, you must go to the Bible. Relying on human art and logic in such things is bound to lead to a disastrous misunderstanding of who God is. 

To apply: by hearing the various responses to the question "What do you think of when you hear the world manly/womanly?", it is possible to construct a model of what people believe manhood and womanhood to be all about. By comparing this model to the Bible, I hope to come up with some ideas I might have realized more slowly without constructing the human model.  

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