Monday, November 8, 2010

Rhetoric for Sundays

I have often wondered at the effectiveness of the little messages that are posted on church marquees (as I have often wondered about the effectiveness of Christian bumper stickers).  Has anyone ever wandered into a church because of some profound message on a marquee?  Nevertheless, I do enjoy the comic factor of these messages, often mis-communicating what is trying to be said.

Take this one, for example, that my wife pointed out to me yesterday as we drove to church:

Playing off of the metaphor in Mark 1:17, this sign tries to get cute with its message.  This metaphor made sense in its original contexts as Jesus was calling his disciples who were actually fishermen.  In fact, in the original context, this was actually a nice use of both metaphor and epanodos in which a word (fisherman, ἁλιεῖς, halieis), is used with a slightly different meaning in Mark 1:16 and Mark 1:17.  Yet, this sign illustrates how a metaphor can be taken too literally and too far.  The metaphor works in Mark because it is a play on words and is not carried too far.  Yet, here, the context is actually gruesome.  The sign has tried to play on words, "he'll clean them" as in, he will make them clean.  But in the context of the metaphor, cleaning a fish is far from what Christians ought to be communicating with regard to the work of Jesus in the life of a believer.

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