Monday, 18 February 2013

The Dancing Gorilla

When you go to a service in a church with a very different background to your own do you see the dancing gorilla?  Yes I know that sounds mad but let me explain.  In an experiment radiologists were asked to look for cancer cells in lung scans that had the added bonus of a picture of a dancing gorilla but 80% of radiologists and 100% of unskilled observers failed to see it. (see here for more details

This got me thinking how often do we only see things the way we expect them to be and how often when faced with something strange do we look at it through the lens of our experience and fail to see what is really there?  If, like me, you were brought up in a church that had plain walls you may find a church that is highly decorated with statues rather discordant and possibly idolatrous.  However to someone used to that church it helps them see God's Glory and they would wonder what type of God you worshipped if they came to your plain church. Similarly someone used to a worship band style of worship may find a liturgical service over organised and stifling whilst the person who is used to a liturgical service may find a modern service chaotic.  In both these cases instead of not liking it why not ask the people who go there why things are done that way.  The liturgical service may help remind people of God's constancy whilst the freer style of service may give room for the Holy Spirit to work. No matter what the service you may just find your preconceptions being stripped away until you see the dancing gorilla that you missed at first sight.  Of course the answer may be "I don't know, we've always done it like that." which could be the spark that church needs to start looking at itself.
So next time you go to a strange place of worship just stop and ask yourself "Where is the dancing gorilla?" you may be surprised at what is right in front of you.


Verlinda said...

Very true; as our EFM group discussed last week, no one entity (church or person) has a lock on the "truth."

Sheila bridge said...

This is great Hugh especially the bit about looking through the lens of our experience and seeing only what we want to see, thanks