Daily Riches: The Deadening Effects of the Familiar (Leonard Sweet, G. W. F. Hegel, Brian Aldiss, Marcel Proust, and James Finley)

“What is familiar is not known.” Hegel

“The paradox of the eyes is that the closest things to you are the hardest things for you to see. We don’t know the familiar. Something can be so familiar you can’t see it. …The greatest example of not being able to see the familiar? Nazareth. When the people of Nazareth saw Jesus, they saw Joseph’s son, whom they had known for a quarter of a century. When the lepers and the outcasts saw Jesus, they saw so much more. [We need to] make the familiar strange. …[and] overcome the deadening effects of the overfamiliar by reframing familiar things in unfamiliar ways. This is especially important when biblical stories are so familiar they become cozy and have a known feel. …As a literary device, defamiliarization was formulated by the Russians years ago in the concept of ostranenie, which translates literally as ‘denumbing’ and was designed as a distancing device to help the reader see something deadeningly familiar in a totally new light. By telling something from an oddball perspective that doesn’t fit preconceived notions, by writing elliptically, epigrammatically, the writer skews the view to give a new window on the world.” Leonard Sweet

“To be made uneasy is the beginning of enlightenment.”
Brian Aldiss

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes
but in having new eyes.”
Marcel Proust

“Though seeing, they do not see.”
Jesus in Matthew 13:13

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Is over-familiarization with what you experience keeping you from “awakening … to God is who already there?”
  • How could you use “a distancing device to … see something deadeningly familiar in a totally new light? (For instance, could you sit at street level with a homeless person?)
  • Have you been blessed to be “overtaken by God” in the midst of familiar things?

Abba, “May each of us be so fortunate as to be overtaken by God in the midst of little things. May we each be so blessed as to be finished off by God, swooping down from above or welling up from beneath, to extinguish the illusion of separateness that perpetuates our fears. May we, in having our illusory, separate self slain by God, be born into a new and true awareness of who we really are: one with God forever. May we continue on in this true awareness, seeing in each and every little thing we see the fullness of God’s presence in our lives.” James Finley

For More: Nudge: Awakening Each Other to God Who Is Already There by Leonard Sweet


These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and he seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

4 thoughts on “Daily Riches: The Deadening Effects of the Familiar (Leonard Sweet, G. W. F. Hegel, Brian Aldiss, Marcel Proust, and James Finley)

  1. I have found that creative writing with texts from scripture can be incredibly helpful to make the all-too-familiar new and powerful and personal – re-telling a story you have read many times in your own words, for example, or rewriting biblical prayers in your own words. It doesn’t just make me more ‘alive to’ the text, it also reveals to me what is going on for me at the time, and it can be very freeing. Certainly God overtaking me at times! The more open I am in my prayers, the deeper I can go with God. The writing can shine a light ahead on the path, showing what is there. It helps me to find direction. It’s also about naming experience – experience has to be named to be processed and ‘moved though’ and learned from and let go. And writing with scripture can do all of that. Works well also with St Ignatius and his ideas around prayer of the imagination. (Favourite topic, might go on forever…)
    Book recommendation: Writing to Wake the Soul (Karen Hering) – http://karenhering.com/writing-to-wake-the-soul/


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