I wrote recently about director Barry Jenkins leaving in silence in the movie If Beale Street Could Talk to allow active audience participation in the creation of Art. Father James Martin describes a similar phenomenon with faith.
He quotes Scripture scholar C.H. Dodd who says a parable arrests “the hearer by its vividness or strangeness…leaving the mind in sufficient doubt about its precise application to tease it into active thought.”
Revelation, Martin argues, takes place in that active thought. Same place that art does.
UPDATE: A version of the same idea from an article on John Prine:
A parable trusts the story to do the work of conversion, and it trusts its listeners to do the work of interpretation. A parable resists polarities: People listening to a story can’t immediately know whether they belong among the speaker’s “us” or the speaker’s “them.”
ANOTHER UPDATE: Thelonious Monk, in his famous note to his drummer, gets at this:
- Don’t play everything (or everytime); let some things go by. Some music just imagined.
- What you don’t play can be more important than what you do play.