Why Pictures & Symbols are Important

We think most effectively in pictures. Pictures stimulate our brains in ways words or abstract concepts never could. Whether they be in the form of masterfully-created art pieces, story books, or highway signs, we instantly recognise a picture and attach meaning to it–most of the time without even being consciously aware that the picture is actually conveying a message.

I believe this is why Jesus spoke in pictures: “The kingdom of heaven is like . . .”

Rihcard Rohr speaks about this in his book, On the Threshold of Transformation: Daily Meditations for Men:

The psychologist Carl Jung said that deep transformation happens primarily in the presence of images.  They alone can touch the unconscious—in one invasive and healing reconfiguration of the soul.  It might also take the form of a biography, a song, a theater piece, a movie, a dream image, a sculpture, an inner vision, a piece of art.  But after the encounter, you see things differently.  One hundred sermons could never have moved you to this new place.

Ideas and concepts don’t change people; they tend to keep us inside our dualistic thinking, judging back and forth whether we agree with the idea, the wording, who said it, or how he said it.  One could say that the reason we have 30,000 Christian denominations in the world now, is that they made it all depend on words.  They should have known that “the Word became flesh.”

But here am I, a supposedly Catholic boy, writing more and more words!  None of them will “take” until they become an image inside you. (pg. 282)

It is said, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” This is even more reason why we truly need to embrace the arts, encourage creativity, and make the best use of all the beautiful things in this world as we worship the Source of all things. Our places of worship ought to be centres of creative expression, amazing art, and stories that are filled with pictures that bring meaning and evoke a response of awe, wonderment and worship. In this way a deep-down transformation of our innermost being can take place in a way that would break down the strongest barrier and through to the hardest of hearts.


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