We call our Roomba robot vacuum cleaner, “DJ.” [For those of you who are Parks and Recreation fans, yes we named it after Tom Haverford’s Roomba who is affectionally called “DJ Roomba.”]
When it gets stuck we say, “uhh ohh. DJ is stuck.” When it runs over our toes we say, “DJ! That hurt!” When our 9 month old crawls around and chases it we say, “Are you chasing DJ?”
Isn’t that funny? We treat this robot vacuum cleaner that gets stuck all the time and bumps into things like a bull in a china shop as if it is a person. How odd. Or is it?
We all do this. We saw faces when looking at the front of a car. The headlights were eyes, the grill was the mouth (sometimes with a toothy grin depending on the grill type) and logo on the front hood was the nose (if it had a logo on the front hood). We did this well before Disney caught on and made a Pixar movie on this premise.
It’s anthropomorphism. We ascribe personal and human characteristics to things that are not personal or human. We talk to things as if they are persons. We ascribe personality to things that are inanimate. Children do it more freely. Adults do it more guardedly and semi-ironically. But we all do it. Why? Why do we do this?
Because we are ruthlessly and relentlessly personal beings. We crave personness from others and even from everything around us. We are wired and geared for this by nature of our Creator. We see the personal in all things as a reflection of ourselves and of our God. Indeed, God is in Godself not one person, but three persons in community with one another: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Biblically, there is good reason to see personality in the impersonal. For example, if we do not cry out in praise to God apparently the rocks will do it instead (Luke 19:40). All the earth and all things in the earth worship God (Psalms 19:1; 66:4; Revelation 5:13).
All things exhibit some sense of the personal because they are resonant with the personality of the God who made them (Romans 1:20; 11:36).
All things exhibit some sense of the personal because all things were created by Jesus for Jesus and through Jesus (John 1:3; Colossians 1:16).
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