“We become what we behold.”
Marshall McCluhan, the famous Canadian educator, philosopher, and media critic, coined this phrase more than 50 years ago. He added, “We shape the tools that ultimately shape us.” He was speaking of our use (and perhaps abuse) of media in the 20th century. He is also credited with defining the “global village” as a world that would be connected through, and shaped by, media. Of course, there was nothing like the World Wide Web at the time. But he knew early on, as the technology became available, we would use it to both shape a vision that would ultimately shape us.
Of course, he was also a staunch critic of the media as that tool was developed. Born in 1911 and dying in 1980, McCluhan never saw the advent of the Internet. The advent of visual media and computer technology was more than enough for him to envision where this might all lead and how it might begin to shape its very creators in both positive and negative ways.
The idea of the tools we shape ultimately becoming the source of how we come to see and shape ourselves is not a new idea. The world has told such stories for centuries — the Hebrew story of the Golem, the Tulpa of Indo-China, Mary Shelly’s “Frankenstein”. And some of you may remember the classic ‘50’s Sci-Fi thriller, “Forbidden Planet ” (with Leslie Nielson, Walter Pidgeon and Anne Francis)!
These cultural stories warn us as to what can happen when the worst, most self-destructive, negative, aspects, of our stories (personal and cultural) are unchecked and become the driving force of our lives.
In other words, what happens when we stop thinking about how we are thinking? It’s about free will and human consciousness and awareness, to be sure. But I wonder how sure we are of the stories we are telling about ourselves — our faith, our families, our culture?
This is what Jesus walked into, when he entered the region of Sidion in the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 15, and encountered the Canaanite woman. It’s an awkward and uncomfortable encounter to say the least!
And yet this encounter for the storyteller of Matthew’s Gospel is only a tiny part of the larger, more challenging narrative. A narrative view of the world which Jesus is clearly prepared to challenge and reshape.
“We become what we behold”. We become the stories we tell ourselves, and tell others about ourselves.
Have you ever noticed how the sunflower, that massive, single stemmed, yellow flower, rises up in the morning to face the rising light of the sun in the east? Then, throughout the day, it turns to face the light as the sun crosses the sky and sets in the west.
This Sunday, I will continue my Summer series, “Why is THAT in the there?”,exploring the curious, sometimes awkwardly uncomfortable, stories in the bible and looking for the larger story behind the stories. And just like the bible stories, our stories are never just about our stories! I hope you can join us as we have some fun exploring the story of the Canaanite woman.
Sunday, July 30 in eleven:eleven
“He Called Her a WHAT?”
with the music of Idina Menzel, Five for Fighting and the
revolution band and featuring Kagan Parker with her original song,
And join us to wish Kagan an encouraging “fare journeys” as she starts grad school in DC in August!
Hope to see you Sunday!