Sunday, February 20, 2005

Metaphors Gone Too Far

Have you ever been in a group that hear a really neat metaphor that everyone, and I mean everyone, suddenly appropriated and used to death?

I had that experience yesterday. The metaphor was "being on the bus" and it was made to walk on all fours, so to speak. The metaphor was applied and misapplied in a variety of ways, expanded beyond all recognition.

Don't misunderstand me here. I like metaphors. I use them frequently. I just don't like seeing them abised. Metaphors are great teaching tools, but they have their limits, and to ignore those limits is an exercise in absurdity. It becomes more about communicating our own cleverness in manipulating a metaphor than about communicating ideas.

Sometimes we will use metaphors or images witotu considering their impact. An image that was used yesterday was that of "having teeth." The idea was of course of enforcability of a new measure, but teeth in the image carries the idea of punitive measures, and enforcement has to do with law. Those ideas are inconsistent with church. I think the idea that was really being sought was effective and encouraging.

Maybe I'll fire off an e-mail to point that out. I will explain it in appropriately metaphorical terms of course.

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