BIG FISH and the Triumph of Story

[originally posted 2003]

It takes a certain amount of courage to believe a metaphor, a certain amount of recklessness to use them, a certain amount of panache to carry them, but beyond that the certainties end. Metaphors have the singular distinction of being preterlogical, beyond logical, true and untrue; where paradox is a capitulation of the mind, the line between reason and faith, metaphors work within reason, fuzzing the edges a little. When we say that God is a rock we mean, simultaneously, is and is not: God is like a rock in that He is unchanging, solid, faithful, but not like a rock in the sense of inanimate, voiceless, and somewhat brown.

“You’re not necessarily supposed to believe it,” he says wearily. “You’re just supposed to believe in it. It’s like– a metaphor.”

“I forget,” I say. “What’s a metaphor?”

“Cows and sheep mostly,”

The rationalist, if I may segue like a rock, hates metaphors, though they are inescapable. Metaphors are too messy, they go everywhere, those pesky words; lazy words, concrete words, literal words that’s what the rationalist needs, words that mean what we want them to mean, too dead to crawl away, words that make us feel like we are gods. But sadly, though we may think it, we do not make the words mean what they mean, there is a greater Word above all words, none other than the Name above all names.

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