Friday, July 8, 2011

Logos... or logos?

I'm going to loan my copy of "Gilead," by Marilynne Robinson, to a friend. I cherish this wise and beautiful book, with all the fingermarks and highlights I left when I first read it. So I'm taking a brave step, loaning it out - epecially since my friend has been known to leave borrowed books in the library dropbox - even ones he borrowed from people like me.

I wrote my name and number on the fly sheet.

Then I downloaded the Kindle edition of the same book so I wouldn't miss it too much, and carefully transferred all my highlights. And experienced again, line by line, the reasons I love this book.

Here's a favorite passage:

Wherever you turn your eyes the world can shine like transfiguration. You don’t have to bring a thing to it except a little willingness to see. Only, who could have the courage to see it?

It makes me think of Latayne's post on Wednesday, and how it took my breath away to imagine the caterpillar liquifying within its chrysalis. Can you bear to think of it? And yet we know the feeling. I can't help but see this obscure bit of knowledge as a post-it note from God, tucked in our pillows for us to find. The rocks cry out. The heavens declare. And so do butterflies.

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made.
Romans 1:20


There you have it: scriptural permission to read the oldest book of the Bible between the leaves of the trees, and butterfly wings. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God... Through him all things were made." The Logos, the animating Word of God, left his mark in the world he made, and we can still find it there.

Wonder is such a pure thing, and it's always been the thing I wanted most to pour into my writing.

And it's never been more needed. In "The Divine Commodity," Skye Jethani writes of a letter he got from his daughter's kindergarten teacher that hints at the way we have replaced the Logos of God with the logos of commercial brands.

Dear Parents, Here is your child’s first kindergarten “homework”! Please help your child find “logos” such as the ones displayed on this page to help reinforce the concept that he/she can already read! They may be on bags, boxes, cups, cans, etc. The children feel great about their ability to read them. We will use them for sharing and also to create a display in our classroom. Thanks for helping!!!

Squirming just a smidge, Jethani and his wife tested their daughter and learned that she could indeed read Pizza Hut, Target, and Disney. Even her water, that stuff Jesus walked on, bore, on the bottom of the glass, another word she knew: IKEA.

Just in case you can't pinpoint the reason this disturbs you (it does, right?), let me suggest that the flashing message of a consumer culture runs counter to the message God so lovingly planted in the pages and leaves and butterfly wings of his Word.

Your television will tell you: Blessed are the strong, the rich, the ones with the most toys.

Disney will show you the catterpiller, the butterfly and even the crysallis - from the outside. But they won't tell you what goes on inside. That's too much like theology. It's too troubling... until you've been liquified, and then it comforts to know that our watery remains are imaginal fluid, the magic stuff that builds our wings.

8 comments:

Latayne C Scott said...

"It's too troubling -- until you've been liquified..." Wonderful. Why do we resist the liquification -- the only means by which we can be transformed and finally have peace and understanding? And yet I fight it with every wormish tool at my disposal.

Marian said...

I just happen to be taking "Gilead" along to my daughter's week-end soccer tournament. Now I wondering if that's such a wise idea. I might get so immersed in it that I miss my daughter's games.

Sharon K. Souza said...

Katy, what a beautiful follow-up post to Latayne's beautiful post on Wednesday. You both are amazing. So much to think about as I kick against the goads of this chrysallis I'm in. Bad analogy, maybe, but you get the picture.

Bonnie Grove said...

Katy: Brilliantly connective, just like everything you write. You knit concepts and ideas together to make a breathtaking whole. Thank you for this wonderful post.

Marian: Take it along. Chances are you will read the book in slow inches. A paragraph, then you will watch your daughter play, while swimming in the depth of the few words you've just read. It would be wonderful to read this Father's love letter to a young boy while watching your own child play soccer. Could be a heightening experience!

Kathleen Popa said...

Latayne, you don't know how hard it was to write, having read your beautiful post. And don't you think we resist, because... well, we may be worms but we don't like being destroyed?

Marian, I so agree with Bonnie. Take the book along. I read it on the porch one summer, with the sprinklers on the lawn. It was blissful. Summer is the perfect time to read Gillead.

Sharon, what would a liquid worm use to kick with? But yes, I get the picture all too well.

Bonnie: mwah!

susiefinkbeiner said...

You have no idea how badly I wanted to jump up and cheer when reading this. Very, very beautiful. And so timely for my life. Thank you.

Henrietta Frankensee said...

Logos with long, worm like oh's are very far from Logos with a short oh and exotic twisty ssssssss. My child surprised me. The first thing she ever read was a billboard as we drove by. How old fashioned of me to imagine she would start with books. Those she memorised as I read to her.
A sense of wonder and the appropriateness of me being small - a created thing - with intimate knowledge of the Creator is vital to writing. Lack of wonder plagues our world of straight lines and indoctrinated children and worms fighting liquification. There is a cure! Writers are the doctors!
I laughed to think of a liquid worm kicking. A bird fights to get out of the egg and I think a butterfly struggles to free itself from the crust.

Henrietta Frankensee said...

But we mustn't leave before we are finished, before our Creator has made us all He wishes.