Friday, December 30, 2011

Symbol, or the real thing?

Recently posted a blog “Ichthus again”, about the Fish symbol within Christianity and received the following comment: “Okay Walter, I like the idea of the fish symbol and I knew it's origin but I have to say, I REALLY cannot stand doves. I know that the dove represents the Holy Spirit but I HATE dove stickers on cars. Maybe my aversion to dove sticker/ornaments is because of the Roman Catholic connection.”
I don’t personally have any problem with the Dove symbol, but the above comments did lead me to thinking both about the symbol of the Dove and also about the dangers of symbolism in general.
Don’t get me wrong here. I am a strong believer in Symbolism, but we always need to remember that it is just that: a symbol and meant to focus our thoughts on the real thing and not become a focus in its own right.
Becoming a Christian as an adult and not coming from a strong Denominational background, I was hardly aware of the Dove as a symbol of the Holy Spirit. I guess I was aware of it, but as the dove has so become the symbol for peace these days, I never really picked up on its spiritual connection to the Holy Spirit.
And that is the real danger of Symbolism; the danger is that symbols mean different things to different people and, unlike my friend above who grew up within a spiritual home, where the dove has a spiritual connection and connotation, like me, most people today, have also lost that spiritual symbolism and see it purely as a symbol of peace and also the Peace movement.
Something similar has happened to Christmas. Where all the symbols now added to Christmas (Such as the tree and lights and decorations and especially Santa,) Have taken the focus almost completely off of Christ as the Son of God who came to live and die as a Human and thereby taking on humankind’s sins and atoning for and paying the penalty for, for all time.
So today, whatever the symbol, whether it be a Dove, a Christmas Tree, Santa , or anything else, please keep your focus on what the symbol represents and not on the actual symbol itself. TOWGP.

No comments: