the problem with interpretation
So if this "dot of hope" is my hermeneutic, we begin to see the huge complications of interpretation as we realize that everyone comes to the table with their very own, equally complex hermeneutic. We approach the author and text with a set of circumstances that include life experience, church background, family dynamics, skin color, and socio-economic status. This list is by no means exhaustive, as the lenses that color what and how we see are infinite. The first stance we must take in beginning to understand the interpretive process is being aware that we all come to the conversation seeing something different.
the problem with seeing
Thankfully, I have discovered that I am not alone in my unseeing. And so I am compelled to ask, what is it that keeps us from seeing clearly? Obviously it can be that our own hermeneutic clouds our vision at times. But even if this weren’t the case, I wonder whether or not I would want to see clearly. What does seeing “clearly” actually mean? Does it mean that I’m seeing “rightly,” “righteously,” “holy,” or “biblically?”
So how should we see? Perhaps the most important question and one that I don’t hear spoken of much is, how were we made to see? If all we’re doing is attempting to divine the correct interpretation, I wonder if that prevents us from pausing to consider how God built us to see. If we can agree that we were created in the image of God, and that our faces reflect the glory of God – then what does that say about our eyes? If our faces reflect – what do our God-eyes see?
The secret of seeing is, then, the pearl of great price. If I thought he could teach me to find it and keep if forever I would stagger barefoot across a hundred deserts after any lunatic at all. But although the pearl may be found, it may not be sound. The literature of illumination reveals this above all: although it comes to those who wait for it, it is always, even to the most practiced and adept, a gift and a total surprise. Finally with a shuddering wrench of the will, I see clouds, cirrus clouds. I'm dizzy, I fall in. This looking business is risky.
- Annie Dillard from Pilgrim at Tinker’s Creek