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Seeing by Means of the light...

Seeing by means of light...

Further thoughts on Parashat Eikev

by John J. Parsons

C.S. Lewis once made the helpful distinction between "looking at" and "looking along" a sunbeam (Lewis: "Meditation in a Tool Shed," 1945). In the former case, the mind looks "at" the beam itself, from a supposedly "transcendental" perspective, as if it could objectively describe the thing in descriptive terms, as a "fact" or by reducing the phenomena to simpler, more "natural" terms (e.g., defining light as waves or particles or energy). In the latter case, the mind see "along" the beam in relationship with it, seeing by its means, as part of his horizon of experience, not focusing on it (as a fact) but experiencing other things through its agency, and interpreting them in a semantic world of interrelated meanings. Now Lewis' point was that modern scientific humanism makes (an apriori) claim to a "truer" interpretation of experience by looking "at" things, as for example, when it "reduces" (i.e., explains away) religious experience as a matter of genetics, anthropology, psychology, or some other "natural" paradigm. Of course such a presupposition is without real warrant and is indeed self-deceptive, as if "looking at" something doesn't involve its own way of "looking along" the axis of assumptions smuggled into its own methodology.... In short, there is no true "looking at" things as an independent observer, since everyone is affected by their own biases and assumptions they bring to the questions of experience... Therefore Lewis also sagaciously said, " 'I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.' Amen. We (all) walk by faith, not by sight, and the only real question is what direction are we looking?

כִּי־עִמְּךָ מְקוֹר חַיִּים
בְּאוֹרְךָ נִרְאֶה־אוֹר

ki · im·me·kha · me·kor · chai·yim
be·or·kha · nir·eh · ohr

"For with you is the fountain of life;
in your light do we see light."
(Psalm 36:9)

Hebrew Study Card

"In Your light we see light..."  When you enter a dark room with a lamp, the darkness flees and is overcome by the light. So also with teshuvah: When we turn to the Lord spiritual darkness is overcome by the Divine Radiance. In Yeshua is life, the light of the world; those who receive Him behold ohr ha'chayim (אוֹר הַחַיִּים) - the "light of life."

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