The Bible: Crystal Ball or Mirror?

I know a little bit about the bible. I have an M.Div. for Christ’s sake; it’s one of three graduate degrees for Pete’s sake! I may no longer be an ordained Benedictine monk, but I sure as Hell sat through my share of biblical studies, theology, even Greek courses. Most of them were fascinating. I had a brilliant seminary professor, one of several like that, in fact, who approached the study of sacred scriptures from a literary-criticism perspective, steeped in critical hermeneutics, semiology, and philology…right up my alley. He planted the following image in my mind (I’ll let you draw your own conclusions.):

click on image to enlarge

HISPHERICAL: The Motion Picture (11 sec.)

We’re rotating on a spherical planet that revolves around a relatively nearby star in a dynamic solar system that is part of a moving galaxy along with others in an ever-expanding universe.
Who’s side are you on?

Practical Hermeneutics, Living Context, and the Deep End

I’m still thinking about Between, mirrors, and inter-independent subjectivity in relation to interpreting and understanding texts of all sorts, tangible and intangible. Weren’t you just asking about that?  We so underestimate sense making and, consequently, settle for less and less.  I’m thinking political discourse, marketing, educational psychology, etc.. We’re told we’ll go off the deep end if we unglue ourselves from the loyalty wall and approach sense making eclectically, pragmatically, and collaboratively.  Soon each of us will be hopping around and around in a private, one-legged sack race, taking personal responsibility for one one-hundredth of his or her cognitive capital and sacrificing the rest to what, an antiquated but persistent hermeneutical habit?

But wait! “Cada uno es hijo de sus obras.” Aha! Cervantes had Sancho Panza himself say this in Part I, Chapter 47 of Don Quijote de la Mancha.  Who better than Sancho to balance things off, turn things up-side-down and inside-out?  Roughly translated, We are the children of our works. Oh, the offsprings?  Never mind.

deep ends


Sack race rules.



Here’s the image that came to mind just after I started reading this interview by Amy Santee with design anthropologist, Armonia Alvarado.

Armonia invited folks in the LinkedIn group, Ethnographers to read her interview by using the following quote, which helps us understand what is meant by design anthropology: “Mediation between objects and people has always gone in both directions. Anthropology breaks the dichotomies: person – object, humans – tools, user – designer, company – consumer. Anthropology reframes these relations, bringing processual understanding of the constant moving forward of creation and human reinvention. Design anthropology has given the industry the tools to create and respond to ever-changing human ecosystems.”

It was that quote that prompted me cognitively to drag out some of my favorite images in this illustration, e.g., facing mirrors and straddling stuff, in order to go back and understand the interview better.


Smoke and Mirrors

Hold on to the smoke for a moment, and consider how mirrors are revolving doors between complementary sides.  A professor of biblical spirituality once parenthetically stated in a class I was taking that we’d all be much better off approaching sacred texts not so much like answer-providing crystal balls but rather as question-provoking mirrors. Rumi asked: “If you are irritated by every rub, how will your mirror be polished?”

OK, you can exhale now.  I toy with mirrors from time to time.  This morning I decided to play around with this artifact in Fifty Three Paper.


It’s all practice.  I’m not sure what it means if it means anything at all, but it was a study in a new technique and an opportunity to play with the familiar image even though I usually have two mirrors facing one another partially.  The colored outlines on the mirror frame were my attempt to loosen it up after the fact; I find the drawing tighter than necessary, and I hope to relax over time. I started with the cigarette because it was the first related image that came to mind. I was searching for an image that could stick out the same way it would stick “in,” you know, kinda’ like a two-handed saw.  I went with a cigarette instead. I tried to capitalize on the notion of inside vs outside smoke.  Then the ashtray happened; and here’s where I tried something new with the lighting and reflection and variegated coloring, something unusual for me and my black & white, stick-figure imagination.

I’ve done some mirrors in the past. In the above drawing, because of the iPad drawing app and the corresponding techniques at my disposal, I deviated from what had almost become an irreversible pattern, as depicted in these examples:

IMG_1934 Snapshot 2008-11-28 17-04-40 Snapshot 2008-11-28 17-50-26 Snapshot 2008-11-28 17-58-11 Snapshot 2008-11-28 18-08-45 Snapshot 2008-11-28 19-01-28

You exhaled, right?