To My Friends in Christ,
One of my favourite movies is the
Sound of Music
. I imagine most of you have seen it at some point. One of my many favourite songs in the
Sound of Music
. It is sung near the beginning of the movie by several of the leaders at the Abbey. The song is really an extended conversation about an apprentice Nun named Maria who doesn't seem to fit into the disciplined life at the Abbey. Each Nun has a different take on Maria. Who is Maria?
Which Nun is correct in her assessment of Maria? Hard to say. The song reaches its climax when the claim about her comes down to single words. "She's a darling! She's a demon! She's a lamb! ..... Gentle! Wild! Riddle! Child! Headache! Angel!" Who is Maria?
Any time we talk about something or someone or even think about them there is a strong tendency to oversimplify. When that happens, we have moved into the world of caricature. You have probably seen those cartoon caricatures on editorial pages making fun of a celebrity or political leader. Some of you have your own cartoon caricatures of yourself. A caricature exaggerates certain elements and ignores or oversimplifies others just like the Nuns' comments about Maria. When a caricature is done well there is a truth revealed in the exaggeration that draws our attention to something important.
In church, Pastors sometimes caricature the truth. The reason for this is simple. On any Sunday there is only sufficient time to talk about a certain small slice of the spiritual life. This small slice is lifted up and examined in an exaggerated way for study. Other important elements are ignored or neglected for the moment. There can be truth and meaning when this is done. It is just not the whole truth.
I pray that each Sunday I caricature the Gospel in a way that will help you in your walk with Jesus Christ.