Images Are Powerful


I recently tested the waters with Pinterest (despite my internal protests of "Please don't make me learn another social media tool!").  It seemed very odd to me at first.  The idea is great - stash all the things that interest you in one place to keep track of them and share them with friends.  But would it really be enough to have a photo and a caption?  Could that jog my memory enough for me to go back and find that interesting article I'm looking for? That's exactly right.  It works like a charm!  My eyes scan an entire page, lock onto a certain image, and a whole flood of impressions come rushing back to me - my excitement at reading that article, its central thrust, and that key concept I want to revisit.  I find what I'm looking for quickly and easily - much more so than scanning a list of titles in my "Bookmarks" folder!

This is the power of images.  They are capable of capturing tremendous richness and depth in a single instant.  They are powerful tools for communicating "the bigger picture" (pun intended) where the succession of words, despite the advantage of precision, can result in an unintended confinement of the reality within a particular description.

Images of the Church

Vatican II's Lumen Gentium (the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church) serves up a cornucopia of images for the Church.  She is a sheepfold with Christ as her shepherd, and the flock itself.  She is a cultivated field, a choice vineyard.  She is the building of God, the house of God, the dwelling-place of God, the holy temple.  She is the New Jerusalem, the holy city.  She is our mother and the spotless bride of Christ.

It is through these images that the council calls us, as Pope John XXII put it, to "step forward toward a doctrinal penetration," to plunge deeper into this mystery.  Again, we do this by bringing the whole history of doctrine into these images with us as a roadmap, but with the excitement of an architect upon seeing the building itself and not just the blueprints - whose heart must respond, "Yes, wasn't this the point all along!"

Images in the New Evangelization

One of the emphases of the new evangelization is the recognition that many people who have already heard the Gospel need to hear it again...but in a new way.  Images can serve as powerful tools for doing just that.  After delivering a talk on CS Lewis, Peter Kreeft was once asked by a listener, "Is it bad that I love Aslan [from Lewis's The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe] more than Jesus?"  Kreeft believed Lewis himself would say, "Not at all.  Aslan is Jesus!"  In other words, it's possible to fall in love with Jesus without even knowing it.  What would be the response of such a person to meeting the real Jesus?  To reading him in the Gospels?  To encountering him in the Eucharist?  "Hardly had I left them when I found him whom my soul loves.  I held him and would not let him go!" (Song of Songs 3:4).

This video has been around for some time now, but it illustrates the power of images to me personally.  There is something in this that reaches my heart and allows me to recall (with a lump in my throat) the great gift of freedom won for me by Christ.

When has an image, a video, or any kind of "fresh look" brought the truth of the Gospel home to you more personally?