Monday, August 22, 2011

John Shore responds to a reader

I very much enjoyed John's response to this letter; it's a good example of why I like his stuff.

One line in the writer's letter spoke to me: "Remember, we are the clay; God is the potter. HE made us."  Well first of all, the potter makes the pots, not the clay. So if we are the clay, then God just found us lying around on Earth and tried to make us into something prettier. Interesting metaphor for religion, but not, I suspect, what the writer intended.

Also, I don't have a lot of experience with potting, but the more I learn about every form of art (including fencing, science, and the "practical arts"), the more it's apparent that, at some point, the artist can only achieve what the medium will allow him to achieve. To use an image from my direct experience, every time I pick up a new sword, it tells me how it should be moved and what strategy it wants to use; I can choose to do as the sword wants, or spend my time fighting it instead of my opponent.

The same is true of cooking; I can use the food as it wants to be used, or fight it and wind up with flavorless mush (also known as the Fast Food technique). Same in music; I can only make the notes that the instrument is willing to make. So if we're going with the "potter and the clay" image, then God can only shape us into who we are meant to be and what we are willing to accept. But the potter is not the one in charge.

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