Wednesday, October 19, 2011

POV Wednesday – The Elephant in the Room

Have you heard that ancient Indian fable about the seven blind men and the elephant? Ed Young has a children’s book out in which the men are portrayed as blind mice, but it’s the same concept.

Seven blind men encounter an elephant, except they all run into a different part of it. When asked to describe what they ran into, their descriptions differed because of their experience. One had encountered the trunk, another the tail, still another the leg, another the ear, and so on. Based on each limited perspective, each man had a different take on what an elephant was. They didn’t know that they couldn’t have an accurate description of an entire elephant without pooling their discoveries.

This story has a lot of applications and is often used to argue against Christian belief in One True God.

But I have a different perspective, and it’s about perspective itself.

First, no matter the description, whether individual or collaborated, you still have an elephant. And an elephant is an elephant no matter how you describe it. The Truth of the matter is not a perspective. It is what it is. We don’t change the elephant by describing it in our own words. How we see it doesn’t make it that way.

So Truth is Truth. I know Truth because Jesus said He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Any other religion touting multiple truths or saying any path is an acceptable path disregards the essence of Truth. They would say that if you want to believe that an elephant is all trunk, you go right ahead. It’s all right no matter the facts.

I’m not a theologian or an expert on apologetics, though, so the illustration I’d like to make with this story is for those who’ve already made it over the Truth hurdle.

Within the church, different perspectives abound as well, don’t they? Even when we all use the Holy Bible as the Authoritative Word on Truth, our perspective and treasure of experiences make us read the same words and have a different take. Not different like redefining Truth, but different angles of the same Truth.

Paul tells us in Romans and Corinthians about the church body, how there’s only one body but many parts. Those many parts unify to make one body. And as an eye, we’re not supposed to tell the foot they are not as good as an eye. And as an ear, we’re not supposed to tell the kneecap that it is useless. Of course, all members of the body are important to the function of the whole.

So why do we still tell other parts of the body that they are useless, unimportant, lesser, or wrong? If there is arrogance in perspective, it’s here, not in the argument between ‘religions.’

It’s just that some people are SO involved at being the eye or ear or foot that they cannot, nor would they care to, imagine what it would be like to be a fingernail, spleen or elbow. Unfortunately, that leads to pride and short-sightedness, and that results in the fingernail, spleen and elbow feeling insignificant and therefore acting as such. In both cases, the perspective is wrong. Pride motivates both reactions.

The point is two-fold.

Don’t be an apathetic elephant.

Don’t be a blind mouse.

Do your job/function to the best and highest quality you can possibly accomplish, whether eye, elbow or earlobe.

Then, remember that your function is not the only one keeping the body alive.

Have fun exploring perspectives, Dry Ground friends! There’s so much to see!

(photo by


Susanne Dietze said...

Wonderful post, as always. Thanks, Lori.