Religious Metaphor and Cross-Cultural Communication: Transforming National and International Identities

The challenges of intercultural communication multiply in religious discourse, with its objective of translating abstract ideas into cultures and languages with sufficient power to transform individual, ethnic, and regional identities and to build cohesive communities of faith. Metaphor plays a primary role in this transformative communication. A powerful tool to abbreviate and facilitate communication, metaphor enables individuals to transmit abstract ideas quickly, efficiently, and memorably. Metaphor is not just a tool for efficient communication; it also guides thought, extends ideas, and influences behavior. Daily language is full of metaphor, which affects our beliefs and faith and, consequently, our actions. As we become aware of the complexity of metaphor–its structure, function, and power–we can act more thoughtfully, live more peaceably, and seek to unify the communities in which we live and work.

Published in BYU Studies Quarterly 50:4
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