In our adult forum last Sunday, we discussed symbols. After looking at a few frequently used Christian symbols, we turned to those we carry with us personally whether we carry them in our pockets, on our lapels or bodices, or in our minds. Our conversation was mostly light and uncritical, except when we talked about the cross and the fish, both of which retain their earlier meanings for many people of faith but, under the banner of Christendom, developed belligerent meanings and uses that put people who are not Christian on guard.
One further tendency of the symbolic also raised warning flags. From amulet to sacrament, the use of symbols always threatens to supplant the realities those symbols were meant to represent and reinforce. The outward expression of an inward truth, over time, tends to take over that truth itself and replace it.