Magic, Miracle And Parable

 

We see magic in the distant vision but miss the miracle in our next breath.

Walt Whitman wrote:

‘Why, who makes much of a miracle?
As to me I know of nothing else but miracles,
….
To me every hour of the light and dark is a miracle,

Every cubic inch of space is a miracle,
Every square yard of the surface of the earth is spread with the same,
Every foot of the interior swarms with the same.

To me the sea is a continual miracle,
The fishes that swim—the rocks—the motion of the waves—the
        ships with men in them,
What stranger miracles are there?’


‘Miracle’ [from the Latin, Mira for ‘Wonder’], is the manifestly inexplicable event. A defiant event in violation of accepted, credible laws. There is no religion still around that does not have the miracle and the magical act as the main feature of attraction.

Nothing will make the crowd fall to its knees as would the display of a minor miracle. Reason has no capability to convince. Every other inducement does better. But none as potent as magic and miracle.


The Biblical ‘Parable’ originally meant an ‘absurd, enigmatic expression’. Asked why he spoke in parables, Jesus quotes Isaiah:

By hearing ye shall not hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall not see, and shall not perceive: for this people’s heart is waxed gross…

The Eastern Church insightfully saw greater danger in reassuring sensibility than in the absurd and in the cryptic. ‘Scripture shorn of antinomy’, it voiced, ‘is Scripture suspect’.

Contrary to popular belief, the Western Church held no different. The difference is more in the speed of memory-loss.