I like metaphors. I look for them everywhere. Sometimes I see things as metaphors because it’s just too depressing to think of them any other way. Take the story of Jesus healing the blind man for example. I think of it as a metaphor. You know, like the philosophy of Jesus and his followers could restore sight to the world, or maybe a metaphor about how spirituality is like a sixth sense that we’ve lost the use of, and someone like Jesus can help us use it. There’s lots of metaphors that we could come up with that would be meaningful, plus it has the added advantage that you don’t have to believe in the divinity of Jesus to get something out of it.
But what’s the alternative to hearing the story as metaphor? That an actual Jesus walked up to an actual blind guy, put mud on his eyes and healed him in front of onlookers who then went and spread the news that Jesus was the Messiah? This is much too depressing to contemplate. I mean, I wouldn’t have been convinced. If I was back there in 30 AD, and one of the onlookers came up to me and told me how two days ago, Jesus put mud on a blind man’s eyes and healed him and now we should become his followers, I would have DEFINITELY scoffed. Very loudly. And it wouldn’t have been cynical of me to do so either, I don’t think. I mean it sounds like a trick, right? And people do those tricks all the time, and we don’t go running off to follow them. Nor should we! Hell, even if I WAS one of the onlookers I wouldn’t have become a follower. I would have gone up to Jesus saying, “wow, that was great, how did you do it? You knew the guy from before right? He wasn’t really blind, right?”
You know, all the typical things you might say to a magician after a cool trick. But I wouldn’t have assumed Jesus had supernatural powers. I would have had to have been very gullible to suppose that. And I don’t like to think of Jesus as being just a trickster or a magician. So I think of the whole thing as a metaphor, and that lets me enjoy my image of Jesus as a kind of peace-loving, laid back philosopher who just may have had an insight into some kind of truth that really could set us all free. I find that infinitely more satisfying to contemplate.