Monday, September 2, 2013

The Art of Conversation

"something shaped by art
and man's devising"
Acts 17:29

My sister and her family came into town a few weeks ago.  They stay at my folks' house, which is only minutes from our house, so we spent the vast majority of our days over there, watching movies, playing card games and board games, and just hanging out.

Dinners were especially nice.  We ate outside every night in my parents' lovely, lush yard.  And long after the food was gone, we were still talking, solving the world's problems, as it were.  Or maybe identifying a few more...

We're not a huge family.  Three daughters, all married, and all with children.  But our views on the world can be diverse:  politics, faith, social issues, child-rearing, books, movies... you name it.  We don't always disagree, but when we do, we're not afraid to say so.  On the contrary, we love a good debate.

Well not so much our husbands... They are just men who happen to love women who love a good debate.

Naturally, this diversity makes for some stimulating conversation, and though you may not leave with a different opinion, you've definitely encountered some thought-provoking discussion.  And to me, there's nothing better than having my thoughts provoked.  I guess I agree with Socrates' famous line, "The unexamined life is not worth living."

Anyhow sitting around the patio table this summer, we were remembering a great discussion we had over Christmas, when we were all together at my sister's house.  But it wasn't about politics, or religion or foreign affairs. 

It was about puppies.

Or farm animals.

Or jazz musicians.

It depends who you ask.

Here's the source of the controversy:

What do you think?  This is the artwork that hangs above the fireplace in my sister's home.  And after we'd been there for several days, someone finally said out loud what we were all thinking:  "So, what's that supposed to be, anyway?"  And a rich and varied conversation began in earnest. 

One viewpoint was that they are instruments.  One said it was three musicians playing on instruments.  Another said that it was a puppy lying on his back (head to the left).  Still another said it was the faces of three farm animals (I think that's a pig on the right).

It was such an entertaining and educational discussion, trying to see each others' points of view, sometimes only with difficulty. 

"See it?"  
"No, I really don't."
"Tilt your head a little."
"Yeah.... nope.  Can't see it."
"Try squinting."
"Ohhhh, there it is!"

This is what I like about a good discussion.  Seeing something that you didn't see before.  It's why I've been involved in Bible study for the past 12 years, because I love to discuss Scripture with people who love it as much as I do, or are as interested in it as much as I am.  Sometimes I come away thinking, "Huh.  Interesting, but I don't think that is the best interpretation."  Other times I come away thinking, "Wow.  I can't believe I never saw that before!"

There are facts in Scripture.  Unassailable, indestructible, unquestionable truths about Him, and about us.  But there are also points to discuss and interpret and research.  And I think that's exactly what He had in mind.  I think it was Martin Luther who said, "The Bible is shallow enough for a child to wade in, but deep enough for an elephant to swim in." 

Or vice versa.  It's sort of like abstract art.

The point is:  sometimes we're the elephant, and sometimes we're the baby, but we gotta get in and get wet!

~ "So they read distinctly from the book,
in the Law of God;
and they gave the sense, 
and helped them to understand the reading." ~
Nehemiah 8:8


  1. I love it! "Sometimes we're the elephant and sometimes we're the baby." So much more pleasant a thought than "Sometimes we're the windshield wiper and sometimes we're the bug."

    I think the thingy over your sister's fireplace is obviously an abstract portrait of some of the characters in either Winnie the Pooh or The Wind in the Willows. Or perhaps the McGuire Sisters.

  2. lol... I was looking forward to your input! I can definitely see Winnie the Pooh in there, but sadly, I'm not familiar enough with the McGuire Sisters. Mayhap they are worthy of an upcoming post?