Value of This Activity:
Helps us see patterns in short sayings of Scripture. Provides an opportunity for us to think about the wisdom of our own lives — and the wisdom we want to develop.
To Begin . . .
Spend a moment in quiet prayer. If you wish, begin by freewriting for 3-5 minutes. Just let the pen empty out your concerns and thanksgiving for the day. Breathe.
How to Play . . .
- Read the Luke 19:45-48.
- First, learn about and play with some aphorisms. An aphorism is a short one-sentence “wisdom saying.” See the article on “Aphorism” at Wikipedia if you want to know more about aphorisms. Here are some examples of aphorisms:
- Better safe than sorry.
- The simplest questions are the hardest to answer. (Northrop Frye)
- The old law of ‘an eye for an eye’ leaves everyone blind. (Martin Luther King Jr.)
- Brevity is the soul of wit — from Hamlet (Shakespeare)
- You can safely assume that you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do. (Anne Lamott)
- Aphorisms often have two sections (though some have three). Can you identify the two sections of the aphorisms listed above? Draw a line between the two parts.
- Study the sample aphorisms to see how they work. Here are some questions you might ask yourself as you think about each half of the aphorism —
What kind of content does each part present? Is a virtue or vice identified? A human action or emotion? An assertion about human fate? An animal behavior? A law or rule? A consequence (negative or positive?)How do the two parts of the aphorisms relate? Are their contrasting words in the two halves (like strongest/weakest; first/last)? Are they related by cause and effect? By time (past, present, future)? Is the aphorism essentially a definition, so that the two halves are synonymous?
- Play around with mimicking those aphorisms. Keep the form but change the content to make them about a different topic altogether. Just play. If the original is about a human action — moving a mountain, for example, create a new aphorism about a different human action. If the second half of that aphorism is about relating that first human action to a smaller or related human action, then create a second half of your new aphorism by doing something similar. So, for instance.
The author William Faulkner said, “The man who removes a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.”I might create a new aphorism, borrowing the form of Faulkner’s and say, “The author who publishes a novel begins by writing words.”Or, I could change it completely, this time stealing content, but changing the form — “The man who removes a mountain winds up ruining the landscape and violating Mother Earth.” You get the idea.
- Now, go back to the biblical text. Reread it. Find the aphorism. Write down the verse number of the aphorism in your notebook. Copy the aphorism out into your notebook.
- Finally, create your own aphorism(s) based on the pattern of the biblical aphorism.
In Closing . . .
Take a moment to breathe and let the playtime settle around you. Carry your curiosity and insights and questions into the day.
Playdate Reference Material:
Playdates with Scripture by Virginia Wiles is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at virginiawiles.com.