symbols (a mostly non-religious post)

As I was writing the post about the Orthodox on the internet, it struck me that we live in a cultural fairly devoid of symbol or an understanding of symbol. I think this lack of symbolic understanding produces a lot of confusion between evangelicals who grow up in churches with no crosses and the ancient, picture-filled churches.

When we modern, secular, westerners look at a circle, what do we see? We see something that is good for making wheels, or bowls, or which has a circumference of pi times the diameter. When, say, an ancient Celt looked at a circle, he saw Eternity. Neither ending nor beginning. It goes on endlessly. This is why Celtic crosses have circles on them, as reminders of the eternal result of the crucifixion. And if you look at, say, a wedding ring in a similar light, it is more than just a symbol in the basic sense of communicating the message that a person is married. It also communicates the message that the institution of holy matrimony was designed for eternal, to last until death. The world is already coming into sharper focus.

I’m having trouble coming up with another non-“religious” symbol. I’m not traditionalist enough to make comments about the monarchy, but I do think that there is powerful symbolism as well as a role there that most Canadians tend to ignore. Oaks are symbols of sturdy power and great might; they’re also symbols of royalty, especially after King Charles II spent some time lurking in one (hence the Royal Oak, ye folks in Ottawa–and the 17th-century fellow sitting in a tree on the sign of the one on the canal).

Of course, the most powerful symbol of all is me. I am a symbol of super-hot, overpowering handsomeness and studly hunkishness. But you all know that.

(That lame ending brought to you by Matthew having a cool idea for a post and then drawing a blank. Any thoughts on the subject of symbols? Do share, friends.)


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