Visual imagery – an emotive force

By Dave Henning / July 29, 2019

“Visual imagery expressed through poetic language has an emotive force that speaks powerfully to some aspects of truth in a way that precise technical terminology never can.”- Tina Boesch

“Metaphor is a word that carries us across the abyss separating the invisible from the visible.”- Eugene Peterson

Tina Boesch concludes Chapter 3 of Given as she discusses three principles gleaned from Genesis 49 that help craft a suitable blessing.

1.  Evocative metaphors activate the imagination.  Because visual metaphors paint pictures in our minds, they etch imagery into our memory.  Most noteworthy, Jesus often used this technique in His teaching.  The metaphors Jesus drew from everyday life, Tina writes, “communicate deep theological content about the nature of God and his Kingdom.”

Yet, as Mircea Eliade (Images and Symbols, 1991) observes, imagination never implies ‘arbitrary invention.’  Rather, imagination allows us to see the totality of the world.

2.  Blessings prepare children to face challenges even as they express future hope.  The goal of blessing involves filling children with the spiritual resources to face life’s challenges.  Not insulate them from the world.  Thus, the inner compass blessing provides helps children navigate the hard roads of crisis and disappointment.

3.  Ground your blessings in truth.  In Genesis 49, Jacob affirms his sons’ strengths.  Yet, he also identifies areas of growth.  And, the blessings of Reuben, Simeon, and Levi hardly read as blessings at all.  Instead, New Testament scholar and author Bruce Waltke refers to them as anti-blessings.

However, within the safety of family bonds, correction that teaches finds a place within blessing.  For it’s impossible to affirm sinful behavior.  In Levi’s case. he totally transformed.  In later years, he steadfastly affirmed God’s covenant.

Finally, Tina reminds us, blessing amounts to much more than words on a page.  It embraces the whole process as we commune with God in prayer and worship.

Today’s question: What visual imagery speaks most strongly to you?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “Make my mirror heart thy shining place”

About the author

Dave Henning

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