Most of the time, it’s safest for me to confront my experience indirectly. A novel often helps. The Bible can too. A parable of Jesus might.
What happens when I read another’s story, or overhear it as I listen, is that I’m more willing to face up to my own experience, my own story. There’s change then effected in me in ways that abstract truth does not cause. Truth is something that rarely or must not really enter my story, unless and until I decide it must. Usually, abstract Truth is for someone else to swallow. Usually, I can so much more easily see Truth for another than for myself. So it’s not just Jesus’ parable that confronts me, or that safely allows me to confront me, it’s also his outlandish hyperbole:
Alright, you’re right. That’s not what Jesus said. What Jesus said was:
Μὴ κρίνετε, ἵνα μὴ κριθῆτε·
ἐν ᾧ γὰρ κρίματι κρίνετε,
καὶ ἐν ᾧ μέτρῳ μετρεῖτε,
Τί δὲ βλέπεις τὸ κάρφος
τὸ ἐν τῷ ὀφθαλμῷ τοῦ ἀδελφοῦ σου,
τὴν δὲ ἐν τῷ σῷ ὀφθαλμῷ δοκὸν οὐ κατανοεῖς;
Ἢ πῶς ἐρεῖς τῷ ἀδελφῷ σου,
Ἄφες ἐκβάλω τὸ κάρφος
[ἀπὸ] ἐκ τοῦ ὀφθαλμοῦ σου·
καὶ ἰδού, ἡ δοκὸς ἐν τῷ ὀφθαλμῷ σου
Ὑποκριτά, ἔκβαλε πρῶτον
[τὴν δοκὸν ἐκ τοῦ ὀφθαλμοῦ σου]
ἐκ τοῦ ὀφθαλμοῦ σου τὴν δοκόν,
καὶ τότε διαβλέψεις ἐκβαλεῖν τὸ κάρφος
ἐκ τοῦ ὀφθαλμοῦ τοῦ ἀδελφοῦ σου.
Alright. You’re right again. Jesus didn’t say that either, did he?
No, the picture is something my son painted. And, the Greek is something Matthew translated. Notice the Blue Jay in my son’s painting. It’s supposed to make us feel good, I think. Notice the birds in Matthew’s translation too. God cares for them.
The KJV translated the Greek part of Matthew’s translation above this way:
1Judge not, that ye be not judged.
2For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
3And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
4Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?
5Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.
And, in sort a parable of translating, they address us English readers through the centuries, this way (from Chapter 6), about those birds of all sorts:
26Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?
I’m out of time again, but I do, at some point, want to let us overhear little Scout again, from Harper Lee’s novel of so long ago. Until then, here’s just a snippet more, and it might make us want to hear more:
Atticus (her father to Scout and her brother): “Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit ’em, but remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.”
Scout (to herself and to us readers of Harper Lee’s safer story of confrontation): “That was the only time I heard Atticus ever say it was a sin to do something.”