Had a few moments of disorientation in the last couple of weeks. The most significant was when I was in Melbourne last week. Everything looked and felt like home here in Auckland but not quite. The $1 and $2 coins are similar but the sizes are the reverse of here. The same brands are sold on the shelves but they taste subtly different. (More wax in the chocolate to compensate for higher temperatures in Aus?) The accents are not unfamiliar, just not quite the familiar. As one conference delegate said, it felt like being in a Star Trek episode where you’ve been translated into an alternate universe that mirrors your own imperfectly.
Orientation/Disorientation is a theme that seems to permeate the Bible. Brueggeman picks it up in his approach to the Psalms with different genres of psalms reflecting a process of orientation (original affirmations of faith), disorientation (when existence and God are disturbing), reorientarion (faith reshaped by the experience) within the psalter.
So too, with the parables. Jesus paints a world that is looks the same as the everyday one, but somehow isn’t. A kingdom disorientation occurs allowing faith to be reoriented. And the Spirit in Acts seems to be continually disorienting and reorienting the early church.
So maybe Vegemite can become an “enacted parable”. Promoting a sense of disorientation that allowed me to confront my assumptions about the world and shape my reorientation within it. It’s when the familiar suddenly ceases to be so that the effect is felt more vividly than for a “culture-shock” you prepared yourself for.