Caricature of a some young friends of ours who recently married.

Caricature of a some young friends of ours who recently married.

dropIlike to try to capture the essence of a subject in a humorous way, using exaggeration of certain prominent features. It’s what we call a “caricature.” We all know it doesn’t really look like the subject, but you can tell who it is nonetheless—and in the recognition perhaps enjoy a smile.

I’ve observed too, that we all do this sort of thing, if not with pictures, with words. We “characterize” a subject or person in a particular way in a particular light. People know what we’re referring to because there’s a lot of “truth” and “likeness” to our characterizations. However, they remain only a caricature—highlighting certain features, but not really a true likeness. We do this in debate and argument all the time. Our “caricature” of the subject under discussion often tells our listener more about us than it does about our subject. In debate we call this fallacy a “straw man.” A verbal effigy of our target set up before our counterpart and decimated with our superior wit and intelligence. Of course we have really only destroyed our own creation.

I’ve found that subjects and ideas and philosophies and people are all far more complex than the little caricatures we make of them. I’m not disparaging having ideals and convictions—I’ve got a bunch of those myself. I am, however, suggesting that we recognize this tendency we all have, and back off from some of the divisive intensity we start generating in all our zeal to be “right.” The other guy thinks he’s right too. For all we know, neither of us are. Perhaps we both have a cherished caricatured picture of what we oppose that really isn’t all that accurate. We’ll need real dialogue and willingness to redraw the thing if we’re to get to the truth.

Oh, now I’ve done it! I’ve suggested there is in fact something called “truth.” People define that term in so many ways. More caricatures I suppose. In all our groping for the light—to find what’s right, I like to keep in mind what Jesus said to Pilate:

“For this reason I came into the world—to testify to the truth.”

Surely One Who called Himself “God with Us” would not draw us a caricature.

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