Worship as Study (Or, the Frog Analogy)

As I indicated earlier, study is a form of worship for me. Also, it just so happens that worship is something I study. Is that circular in some way? Is it like hooking up a transmitter from your mouth to your brain so you can tell your brain what to think? (I vaguely recall this as a surgical procedure once performed by Buckaroo Bonzai.) I suggest it is a peculiar thing when you start studying your own worship, your own faith.

We’ve all probably heard the Dissected Frog Analogy. In order to understand how a frog works someone cut it open once and looked inside. Sure, they kind of figured out what was going on inside, but then they were left with a dead frog. Ergo, when you study your own faith you kill it, incidentally making a big mess someone has to clean up afterwards. I’ve heard it used for flowers too, except it’s a less vivid object lesson, not gory enough to impress the mind I guess. I always wondered why this guy in the frog analogy couldn’t just anesthetize the frog, give it a small IV, do some exploratory surgery, sew it back up, and … voila! Frog’s a bit groggy, sore, maybe it will have an infection, but it’s still alive, and, you got to rummage around inside its innards and write your science report. I have always suspected what really killed the frog was … malpractice.

But is this analogy even on target? How about this … the Plastic Radio Analogy. Say some 9 year old kid takes apart a plastic radio, messes around with the inside parts, screws it back together again (even though s/he can’t remember where some parts where supposed to go) and voila! The radio still plays music even though numerous important looking pieces remain scattered across the carpet.

The Plastic Radio Analogy best describes my study of my own faith. I’ve pried open my faith on numerous occasions, did some surgery (not merely exploratory), leaving many pieces on the floor, screwed it back together again, and, miraculously, the radio still plays afterwards. Maybe some of those pieces weren’t necessary after all? Of course I probably voided the warranty. I actually did this once with my sister’s radio, so I know it can be done. I don’t necessarily recommend doing this, or at least telling your sister that you did it.

A final alternative analogy: the Seat Belt Retractor Analogy. One day you discover that your seat belt retractor doesn’t work. You take it to the service department. They say it will take 3 hours to fix it. They come back to you 4 hours later and say it can’t be fixed, but they can order a brand new retractor. That’ll be $350, plus labor–the part will arrive in 3-4 weeks. No thanks, you say, and you drive home, loosely belted in, going 20 mph under the speed limit. When you get home, out of curiosity you unscrew the seat belt retractor yourself, notice a piece of plastic had become unhinged and stuck in the belt. You pull out the offending piece of plastic, and … voila! The seat belt retractor unit now works! Then you curse at the service department jerks who never even opened it up to look at it, using biblical and, perhaps, some non-biblical, profanity. This happened with my first Honda Accord, so I know it can be done. Not sure how this is entirely relevant either, but maybe.

Any other analogies?


  1. Any other analogies?

    A dissected frog will hop out of a pot of boiling water if you just drop it right in. But if you set it in a pot of lukewarm water and then slowly raise the temperature of the water, the frog will never notice a thing, and you can boil your dissected frog to your heart’s content. (And really, who doesn’t like to boil dissected frogs?)

    Moral of the story: The gospel is all about dead frogs. We don’t care how they die — dissected, boiled, or some combination thereof. We just want the damn things dead.

  2. Kevin Barney says:

    Yeah, there’s also the frog who agrees to let a scorpion ride on his back as he swims across the river, but when they get to the other side, the scorpion kills him, saying, “hey, dude, you knew what I was when you agreed to let me ride on your back. It’s your own fault.”

    I forget what principle that is supposed to teach, but it is probably something worthy of a standards night.

    Seriously, though, I do like your plastic radio analogy, Ed. That describes well how it works for me.

  3. Julie in Austin says:

    And then there was the girl who chewed up her frog and then no one wanted to marry a used frog.

  4. I know this much: If you put a lobster in water and slowly (or rapidly) raise the temperature one degree at a time to boiling, the result is delicious.

  5. Then there’s the one about the two frogs in a bucket of cream. One of them drowned and the other kept swimming until he turned the cream into butter, which he ate too much of, and died of congestive heart faliure.

  6. The boiling frog analogy is fake, btw.:

    For me the best analogy is the Six Million Dollar Man Doll Analogy, which postulates that you can take the legs and arms off a Six Million Dollar Man Doll, examine them to your heart’s content, and put them on backwards or reverse them. At the end of the day you risk losing those limbs, or you have a really weird looking Col. Steve Austin, but if you remember what things were like in the beginning you generally end up just fine.

  7. Ed Snow says:

    I have 1 question about the 6 million dollar man: did he have a steel girder in his spine? If not, I don’t care how strong your 1 arm and 2 legs are, you still can’t lift a car.

  8. I think it’s important to look at ourselves and understand why we believe. We just have to be careful that all the important parts get put back when we’re done. What profiteth it a man, if he gains knowledge about himself, but loses his own soul? But I really believe that self-examination doesn’t have to kill our faith.

    Why are the members of the church so focused on frogs?

    This one isn’t really a church story, but I thought I’d share anyway.

    A man takes the day off work and decides to go out golfing. He is on the second hole when he notices a frog sitting next to the green. He thinks nothing of it and is about to shoot when he hears, Ribbit 9 Iron. The man looks around and doesn’t see anyone. Again, he hears, “Ribbit 9 Iron.” He looks at the frog and decides to prove the frog wrong, puts the club away, and grabs a 9 iron. Boom! He hits it 10 inches from the cup. He is shocked. He says to the frog, “Wow that’s amazing. You must be a lucky frog, eh? The frog replies, “Ribbit Lucky frog.” The man decides to take the frog with him to the next hole. “What do you think frog?” the man asks. “Ribbit 3 wood.” The guy takes out a 3 wood and, Boom! Hole in one. The man is befuddled and doesn’t know what to say. By the end of the day, the man golfed the best game of golf in his life and asks the frog, “OK where to next?”

    The frog replies, “Ribbit Las Vegas.” They go to Las Vegas and the guy says, “OK frog, now what?” The frog says, “Ribbit Roulette.” Upon approaching the roulette table, The man asks, “What do you think I should bet?” The frog replies, “Ribbit $3000, black 6.” Now, this is million-to-one shot to win, but after the golf game the man figures what the heck. Boom! Tons of cash comes sliding back across the table. The man takes his winnings and buys the best room in the hotel. He sits the frog down and says, “Frog, I don’t know how to repay you. You’ve won me all this money and I am forever grateful.” The frog replies, “Ribbit Kiss Me.” He figures why not, since after all the frog did for him, he deserves it. With the kiss, the frog turns into gorgeous 15-year-old girl.

    “And that,your honor, is how the girl ended up in my room. So help me God or my name is not William Jefferson Clinton.”


  1. […] Jordan, at ABEV, dreams of unemployment, RoastedTomatoes, at BCC, dreams of more kids, and Ed Snow is dreaming if he thinks he can make a frog analogy and have people take him seriously. […]

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