Tuesday, September 7, 2010

worshipful movements of humans through space, part 2: a pointing

Egyptian Hieroglyph
Man in Adoration

A man stands on a street corner poking his finger into the air with fervor. His intentions are unclear. He is either using his finger to call attention to something in the sky or else he is doing a kind of dance. Religion can be seen in this way. There is the thing that is pointed to and the thing doing the pointing.

On the one hand, the sky is rich and ripe for drama. The stage is suffused with gods and goddesses we can see and feel even though they are technically invisible. We talk and sing about them. When we pray we summon their on the screens inside our minds. We devise elaborate and beautiful rituals for their worship. We point our eyes toward the sky religiously, so when we see a finger pointing, we look toward the sky.

On the other hand, looking at the area of the sky to which the man is pointing, there is really only sky. In a way, the hand is more interesting than the sky. While it is held in the shape of a pointer – four fingers curled loosely in a casual grip, one finger erect – the hand is not pointing at anything. The news is not hovering in the sky. The news is the hand itself: the muscles stretching the index finger open and closed, the graceful arcs it traces , the movements and the shapes it makes as it aims not so much skyward as jubilantly upward and outward from the soul. For religion, there is the thing that is pointed to and the thing doing the pointing. In the end, is it where you point your arrow or that you point your arrow that really matters?