Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Starfish story

Father O’Hara is going into parable mode with Elizabeth, an economics student.


Father O’Hara: Do you know the starfish story, then?

Elizabeth: Aah… it’s got to be one with a metaphor or a moral to it, it’s probably a PARABLE, or you wouldn’t be setting out to tell me, right?

Father O’Hara: Just listen. There’s a boy walking along the beach and he sees thousands of starfish washed up by the tide. They’re stranded, see, and then the boy sees this man who’s throwing the starfish one by one back into the sea. And the boy asks, why you doing that, it won’t help, there are thousands of them stranded here. And the man picks up another starfish and throws it into the water, and says, “Well, it helped THAT one.”

Elizabeth: Something like what Zig Ziglar meant when he said, “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.”

 Father O’Hara: Not quite the same. What the man did in the starfish story was altruistic. What’s implicit in the Ziglar observaton is the idea that some people who you have helped might help you in the future.

Elizabeth: Possibly, possibly.



There are more than 50 parables in the New Testament alone. That probably means there are thousands of parables from other reefs scattered along the Beach of Theology.

Parable: a story whose sum is greater than that of its parts?



N_O said...

I think a famous Japanese saying "nasake ha hito no tame narazu" shows the same story.
But, unfortunately, this is a typical example of Japanese "easily-misunderstood" expressions.
In a wrong meaning, it is better not to help others because they must do that themselves, or something like that, which is opposite to the real meaning...

Barry Natusch said...

Hello N_O (!) Nice to see you here. Welcome and thank you for your cross cultural observation.

Interpreting or translating stories across cultures can be even more difficult than translating technological documents.

Technology is fairly constant across cultures (although Japanese keitais have many differences compared with European ones!).

Beliefs and behaviors are not so constant across cultures. Try putting a story into an Internet translation engine and see what comes out!