When Jesus gave us a promised helper, the Spirit of Truth, he made it possible for us to enjoy his presence continuously. This gift, from the Way, the Truth, and the Life is fully capable of leading us; along the Way, into all Truth, so that we may enjoy the most abundant Life possible; just as the Master said. Those who put Jesus on the cross to die thought that his influential presence would somehow be diminished when, in fact, his ministry has been augmented by the spirit complement that indwells and also envelopes us.
There are those who would usurp the authority of the Spirit. They are the great pretenders, that habitually elevate their personal evaluations, to the level of absolutes. They may think they’re justified while attacking the underpinnings of another person’s faith. They might feel as though they are qualified to perform the equivalent of psychological or theological surgery on the souls of others. And they might presume to impose their individually circumscribed and personalized science, philosophy and religion on our brothers and sisters.
Jesus did not call us to remove anything from the hearts and minds of our siblings. He instead demonstrated how we may put ennobling truths into the minds and hearts of humankind. These truths are usually found, in a highly concentrated form, within the parables Jesus shared with his disciples and the Apostles. Today, I offer for your consideration, a contemporary parable that focuses on the quality of such concentration.
If you have ever known someone that suffers from depression, or if you have experienced it personally, you probably know something of what is sometimes called the binocular trick. This analogy is used to describe habit where the individual magnifies or exaggerates problems, while they demagnify, disqualify, or minimize their blessings. Just as beauty is in the eye of the beholder, perceived blessings and curses may be as well.
A lens is a concentrator. In the case of telescopes it also serves as a light gathering device. The first person to apply for a patent for a telescope was Dutch eyeglass maker Hans Lippershey. In 1608, he laid claim to a device that could magnify objects three times. His telescope had a concave eyepiece aligned with a convex objective lens. One story goes that he got the idea for his design after observing two children in his shop holding up two lenses that made a distant weather vane appear close. Others claimed at the time that he stole the design from another eyeglass maker, Zacharias Jansen.
Jansen and Lippershey lived in the same town and both worked on making optical instruments. Scholars generally argue, however, that there is no real evidence that Lippershey did not develop his telescope independently. Lippershey, therefore, gets the credit for the telescope, because of the patent application, while Jansen is credited with inventing the compound microscope. Both appear to have contributed to the development of both instruments.
Adding to the confusion, yet another Dutchman, Jacob Metius, applied for a patent for a telescope a few weeks after Lippershey. The government of the Netherlands turned down both applications because of the counterclaims. Also, officials said the device was easy to reproduce, making it difficult to patent. In the end, Metius got a small reward, but the government paid Lippershey a handsome fee to make copies of his telescope.
In 1609, Galileo Galilei heard about the “Dutch perspective glasses” and within days had designed a scope of his own — without ever seeing one. He made some improvements — his creation could magnify objects 20 times — and presented his device to the Venetian Senate. The Senate, in turn, set him up for life as a lecturer at the University of Padua and doubled his salary, according to Stillman Drake in his book “Galileo at Work. Legend has it that Galileo was the first to point a telescope skyward. He was able to make out mountains and craters on the moon, as well as a ribbon of diffuse light arching across the sky — the Milky Way. He also discovered the rings of Saturn, sunspots and four of Jupiter’s moons.
A parable is, in essence, the means to convey truth to people with a wide variety of capacities to comprehend. In substance a parable is also known as a parabolic analogy. It is called that because it is analogous to the way a lens, an acoustically tuned amphitheater, or a satellite dish makes use of curvature and forms a directing arc to concentrate the light, the sound, or the radio waves on some target.
There are three kinds of light: physical light, intellectual insight, and spirit luminosity. Jesus, the master story teller, made use of the narrative’s directing arc to focus us on the truth of the matter. When we read these stories we make use of physical light to enhance our intellectual insight. When we are responsive to the Spirit of Truth’s divine leading, our spirit luminosity brings the components of truth: the facts, meanings, and values into precise focus.