25 January 2006

A Brief Parable

by Frank "centuri0n" Turk
As you have been walking down the cultural street, you have been listening to the organ grinders that you have passed by. Occationally -- perhaps even at random -- you have been handing quarters out to the monkeys, all of whom have tried to bite you. It's annoying, but the monkeys are cute at first glance.

Axwell Tiberius, Organ Grinder
sibboleth?
 
Suddenly, you stop at one organ-grinder because you thought you heard him say "to every tribe" and thought he had shibbolethed. But when you bend down to give his monkey a quarter, you find out the monkey tries to bite you! Why, the OUTRAGE! To show how mad you are, you walk up to the organ grinder and tell him, "Signore, your monkey tried to bite me even though I know you are a Christian."

To which the organ-grinder replies, "He's a monkey; you think I baptized him or something?" And you are somehow appalled that an organ-grinder is using a monkey.

They are all organ-grinders. They are all using monkeys. To get mad at this last one and boycott him when you have boycotted none of the rest for using monkeys is, in fact, arbitrary. It's an organ-grinder problem, not a monkey problem.



44 comments:

Hessel-Man said...

Centuri0n,

I'm just happy that you post pics by Art Adams and other comic book greats. I've been boycotting him for a while now for reasons I just can't remember, and so it's good to see some of his much-missed artwork in a Christian context. :)

$teve H.

chamblee54 said...

Is Jesus the organ grinder?

Sharon said...

Pardon my density here, but this parable is lost on me. Does that mean I'm one of the 1 Corinthians 2:14 people?

Darel said...

Every parable is an allegory, but not every allegory is a parable.

Jim V. said...

I, for one, am just glad to see that the organ grinder doesn't have his monkey performing offensive and vile acts in this particular case...parabolically speaking, that is (...well, there IS the violence).

centuri0n said...

Hessel-man:

I have no idea whether Art Adams is a Christian or not. I have co-opted his artwork for the sake of this blog post, and I may live long enough to regret it.

Whatever happened to Adams anyway? The last time I saw anything by him was in a Gen-13/MM+O crossover ...

Chamblee:

If Jesus were the organ grinder, there'd only be one organ grinder.

Sharon:

I have no idea whether 1Cor 2:14 applies to you. However, it may apply to someone who thinks that a monkey working for a Christian is any different than the monkey working for the non-Christian.

darel:

... ah ... bach ...

centuri0n said...

jim v.:

You can take the monkey out of the wild, but you cannot take the wild out of the monkey. Just because he abides the little hat and the jacket doesn't mean he's ready for a seat at the, um, wedding feast.

Hessel-Man said...

Centuri0n,

I'm just kidding about boycotting Art Adams, though I have been out of the comic books scene for a while. I'm not sure if he's a Christian either. I tend to think it'd be a pretty challenging business to work in as a believer (much like acting, I suppose) - I used to want to draw comics for a living in the worst way, but there's an awful lot not very wholesome there these days. I couldn't see myself doing "Christian" comics either though... drawing "angels" in super-spandex just seemed to cheepen the concept to me. :) But since Phil started doing those comic cover remakes and you've been posting comic art accompanying your articles, I've been rethinking this! LOL. A "Pyromaniacs" 'zine would be sweet... sort of like the "Power Team" comics were sweet (yes, there really was one).

Anyway, don't regret using his artwork though, not on my account anyway... I love it. Not sure what he's been up to. His work on the old X-men annuals was always some of my favorite.

Hessel-Man

Tom said...

Frank,

I am guessing that you are dragging the "End of the Spear" commentary over here. In which case I would also guess that you are portraying Chad Allen as a monkey?

I've got to say that the allegory/parable is something to ponder. If the organ grinder only says he is a christian and shows no marks of being a christian then we are taking him at his word. Another could be that the organ grinder is has lost his "saltiness" (Matt. 5:13). The monkey I get he is just an unbeliever.

Well how did I do? or was it a good story?

David said...

But what does the organ grinder think about Santa?

centuri0n said...

beanpole:

I think the only problem with your analysis is that you see the parable as being applicable only to the current controversy.

I would say that, for example, Evanescence is a good example of the monkey. POD is a good example of the monkey. Willie Ames is a good example of the monkey. And note: the monkey is not the problem.

The problem is the organ grinder. The problem is the organ grinder. The problem is the organ grinder.

centuri0n said...

hess:

The problem is the [Christian comics publishers] organ grinder.

Nathan said...

A good parable doesn't make sense until you think about it or ask the author.

Of course, bad poetry does the same thing. Except usually the author can't explain it either.

candyinsierras said...

Whaa-a-a-t?

Libbie said...

The problem is the Organ grinder. I get it.

So is the answer that we should stop getting distracted by the organs?
Or should we become organ grinders ourselves?
Or should we just strap on some ankle-cymbals and be a one-man band?


Oh, BTW, pyromaniacs, could we please think about floating the comments in another box now?

candyinsierras said...

so...let me get this straight. a bunch of monkeys who pick fleas and lice off one another, sit around a tavern, drink beer and bite others are different than an organ grinder's (who makes an enigmatic statement about tribes) monkey who bites?

I don't know about you guys, but either way, I just don't like getting up next to an animal I know will bite me...and so avoid being bitten in the first place.

Jim V. said...

Yes, the problem is the organ grinder. But just because this particular grinder speaks a "shibboleth", does that really make him any different from the other organ grinders?
We must remember, after all, that they are organ grinders and must make their living the way all organ grinders do...with biting monkeys. So caveat emptor: buyer beware.

Tom said...

So, what your saying Frank is that the organ grinder is Brian McLaren? Just kidding.

Something to make you go hmmmmmmmmmm.

Jeremy Weaver said...

The organ grinder is the soil. The monkey is the seed. The organ is the Spirit.

Seriously though, I understand you Cent. You're right on. Are you going to follow up now?

BTW, It's weird seeing your graphics on this blog. Spooky, like a organ grinder with a monkey who tries to bite you.

Gummby said...

So...how much Doug Wilson have you been reading lately?

Jennifer said...

There's a bit of "fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me."
I understand that it's an organ-grinder problem, but I since guilt on the part of the person so willing to give the quarter to the dancing monkey.

Steve said...

Just a quick suggestion. You might want to read your posts and take the time to edit them for clarity and sense before posting them. I'm a prolific reader and my whole life is built around books, but like Sharon, I got lost. It took me a while to figure out what you were trying to say.

JRODFOSS said...

Let me get this straight:

1. Signore Organ Grinder = Zondervan
2. Monkey = TNIV
3. Organ = Printing Press
4. Quarter = $ for TNIV
5. Victim = Undiscerning Christian who does not understand the difference between Sibboleth and Shibboleth.

Am I Close?

Jerod

alamar said...

One thing the monkey could be: is "church" as we know it. The "church" shouldn't have to attract with entertainment. The monkey is central to the whole method: a creature method, ignoring the Creator's method.

Too many people have gotten bitten by the monkey. Evidence: dropping attendance, negligible retainment and conversion of attracted masses.

Solution: the Christian sould get out of the monkey business ;) and get on with the discipling business.

I've just gotten out of the monkey business myself; beginning a life of doing church God's way, and definitely not violating Hebrews 10:25.

alamar said...

The passerby was right: the Christian shouldn't let anyone get bitten ;)

Jim said...

I don't get it.

Jeremy Weaver said...

It's about cultural engagement.
WE (everyone, all of us) are the organ-grinders.
The organ is the message we want to get out.
Our means for engagement is the monkey.

davels said...

Oh the parable of it all . . . perhaps Organ Grinder = christian movie makers = ETE; monkeys = non-believeing actor playing christian character = chad allen?

And you're right in your conclusion.

centuri0n said...

JIM V. HAS DISTINGUISHED HIMSELF AS A MAN OF CLEAR DISCERNMENT.

Steve Sensenig said...

I have trouble seeing the organ grinder as the problem, to be honest. The comment "buyer beware" is, in my opinion, a very key one. While the organ grinder may have his faults, no one is forcing anyone to give him a quarter.

Phil made the comment in an earlier post in an earlier incarnation of this blog, asking the rhetorical question of "Is it technically a boycott if you never intended to go in the first place?" If you don't want to give the organ grinder a quarter, then don't. Conscience can certainly guide here, and I, for one, won't judge you for holding onto your quarter and keeping yourself free from any potential complications from a monkey bite.

Having said this, I think this discussion about the evil of organ grinders is a good illustration of why organs should be replaced by contemporary praise bands in every church... ;) (totally tongue-in-cheek)

steve :)

Libbie said...

Steve,
Sure, and keeping your money is a stand a lot of people suggest.
But how do you answer the people that tell you you're a legalist for not giving the organ grinder some money, after all, the message is good, and if you don't support him, how will anyone else hear, and what will happen to the monkey??

Doug said...

Are we trying to distinguish between organ-grinders, or are we saying that all organ-grinders are alike. And what song is the organ-grinder playing? And doesn't this parable really only work if the organ-grinder is using the monkey to make the music rather than just collect the money?

Father of Eleven said...

Is the problem with the organ grinders or is it all the people with quarters who cannot tell the difference between the organ grinders playing "Don't worry be happy" and a full choir singing the Hallelujah Chorus?

candyinsierras said...

father of eleven. great comment!

centuri0n said...

There's a very interesting line of thinking here which says that being an organ grinder, per se, is not a bad thing. You know the refrain: it turns out he's an organ grinder, not that there's anything wrong with that.

Let me suggest to those of you thinking that way that all organ grinders use monkeys. That's the schtick: you get an organ, and a monkey, and you hope the monkey is cuter than he is rabid or distemperate or squirrely (which is a funny thing to say about a monkey -- it may be a racial slur), and you hope his dance to the tune you're cranking out is amusing without being annoying.

So it doesn't matter if the tune in your organ is Amazing Grace or Pop goes the Weasel. You are in a business that uses a wild animal in a way that superficially masks its natural willingness to bite and pinch and throw its own, um, monkey chow at people.

However, what should you the passerby do when you see an Organ Grinder who is playing Amazing Grace? Does everyone know what a "shibboleth" is, and why Axwell Tiberius was saying "sibboleth" and not "shibboleth"? Dude: break out your concordances before you read any farther.

If you are a Christian, you have an obligation to belong to the church, Amen? And in that, you have an obligation to be in submission to one another, and for the sake of order be in submission to your elders. But also in that is your personal responsibility for what you do as a member of the church.

So when you're walking down the cultural street and you think you heard someone say "shibboleth", but it was actually "sibboleth", you have a responsibility to yourself and to God to know the difference. When someone is pawning off a Christian shibboleth in order to put a plastic fishy on his proposition or movie or poem or blog or whatever, you have a responsibility not to be a spiritual and theological rube.

Let me put it in plainest language: if you run into a fellow how says he's a "christian pimp", you would know right away that he has no idea what he's talking about and you wouldn't accept his confession that's he's providing a Christian ministry. So when you run into, for example, a Christian movie producer or a Christian Rock star, you have to ask him and yourself: "Say, I pray thee, Shibboleth".

Listen to the answer. For if he could not frame to pronounce it right, you may not have to take him and slay him in the Jordan, but you have no obligation to let him leverage your conscience.

Catez said...

I see...
The organ grinder's organ is a kareoke machine and we are the monkeys and none of us can sing for peanuts (but a quarter will do fine thanks). And God is the passerby bitten by the awful kareoke singing and it is totally the fault of the organ grinder.

All I have time for before I catch a movie...

Darel said...

C-Dog says "if you run into a fellow [who] says he's a 'christian pimp', you would know right away that he has no idea what he's talking about and you wouldn't accept his confession that's he's providing a Christian ministry."

A) There you go "assuming" again.

B) I like the "Christian pimp" allegory MUCH better than the organ-grinder one. Most especially because it leverages the common usage of the word "pimp" which includes non-prostitutionary meanings .. frex, "He's pimpin' his newest 'Purpose-Driven' tie-in novelty item"

C) Something like this should have been the actual post rather than a comment... although that would have the unfortunate effect of not allowing all the "monkey" tie-ins....

Catez said...

Whoops - not totally the organ grinder's fault - but he is the problem. We're just singing like kareoke monkeys do...

I think I'll see two movies. Preferably without musical scores.

Sojourner said...

Where is the axe grinder in all of this?

Libbie said...

I fear a well made point might be lost, because of the monkey-trails we appear to be following. Which is kind of ironic...

quicklikerodly said...

The problem is sin. Bottom line. Sin is personified by us, the sinners, and the actions we take. That's why the organ grinder is the problem, in my humble opinion.

C.H.H. said...

Frank,

This is an excellent post, and your last comment fills it in perfectly. If you're counting heads, I got it. Thanks for making us think.

Doug said...

I suppose it is ok if the monkey is doing karaoke as long as it's not in church!

Steve Sensenig said...

First of all, I find it really amusing how "inside jokes" keep getting tossed into these comment threads. Poor newcomers who have no idea why karaoke is brought up here!! LOL

Anyway, sorry, Libbie, for being so slow in getting back to this post (too many to keep up with on here!!!). You wrote:

But how do you answer the people that tell you you're a legalist for not giving the organ grinder some money

I'm not sure how to answer those. It was my impression, though, that there were many more on the other side telling people they were liberal (or worse, lost) if they did give the grinder a quarter. (On other blog posts, not this particular one, that is.) Somehow I missed the cries of legalism on the "pro-quarter" side of the fence. Guess I don't get around as much as I thought I did on these blogs! ;)

steve :)