Monday, January 28, 2008

Allegory of the Cave: 1/28/08

Shadow Play, all images (c) by Kirk Jordan

First Image, January 08, all others November 07 from a University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Home-Coming Parade.

(In case you haven't figured it out, Images 1,3,5,and 6 are inverted.)


Some of you may wonder about the title "Allegory of the Cave." It borrowed from an essay by the Greek Philosopher -- Plato (found within his work THE REPUBLIC), in which Plato seems to suggest that the physical world that we are part of "shadows" a greater -- or transcendent reality.

To read the essay for yourself - or savor its implications, see:


Bunny trail.

Over the years, I have heard both positive and critical interpretations of Plato's thought, and the way it may have impacted early Christianity.

On the plus side, is the very notion that many of the things we experience on earth are but weak representations of some greater reality. Every flower on earth is but a shadow of some heavenly flower. Every boy and girl, is but diluted presentation of the ideal form of the masculine and feminine, .... And Arkansas is but a shadow of Heaven (or something like that.) Or... On the flip side, I guess you might say that war, really is a shadow of perdition.

Perhaps a most able representative of this form of Platonic thought is CS Lewis, who in his stylized old world myth "Till We Have Faces" -- suggested that we too (For much better of for much worse) are but of a shadow of what we will be -- when we get faces!


Critical interpretations of Plato's thought usually begin with the idea, that in holding high the sacred (or the ideal), the temporal world may be inappropriately debased. We speak of Platonic love, when that love is emptied of physical attributes. And while a platonic relationship might work for friends, to describe married love as "Platonic" would be tragedy.

Likewise, there have been plenty of times within the history of the church in which the material world, or the pleasures associated with that world were associated with a "corrupted" physical realm. This form of Platonic thought led some persons to deny the physical nature of Christ - or to shun holy things -- (like marriage), in favor of some higher ascetic calling. Only problem, such systems often end up calling what is good - evil, or find themselves promoting an emasculated and defective spirituality.

In the end, I do not see the Bible promoting the Spiritual in opposition to the Physical (though it may be in opposition to the carnal), but rather, Biblical vision calls for the Holy completing, fulfilling and transformation of the world of physical experience.


The Mighty Works Project waits in expectation of shadow-completion.