The Good Life and Plato's Cave Allegory

In 8th Grade English/Bible at CVCMS, students were invited into the class’ deep hope of “engaging language and literature in order to discern and live “The Good Life” that God calls us to.” Throughout the year students will discern between the competing stories of “The Good Life” found in the world and “TheGood Life” as laid out in Scripture. Students were invited to see the distracting and distorting effect of sin by reflecting on Plato’s Cave Allegory found in Book VII of Republic. Students were “chained” in a cave and forced to identify shadows dancing on the wall. When a prisoner is able to escape and view the outside world for the first time, the light is blinding and disorienting. Once adjusted to the light, he sees things as they truly are, or as God intended them to be seen. When he returns to the cave to free his friends, his eyes are no longer adjusted to the darkness, and the other prisoners think that he’s returned without his eyes. The prisoners would rather stay in the familiar darkness than risk the struggle of adjusting to the light.As Christians, the world will show us mere shadows of what God has intended the world to be, and as Christians it is our job to discern what “The Good Life”actually is in the (sun)light of Christ, and what it isn’t. We vowed to struggle to get out of the cave and to help others out as well. Will you leave the cave and strive to live “The Good Life” with us?

Student Reflections

Students were asked to explain the symbolism and reflect on why it is often difficult for us to leave the cave.

"God has a plan for you that is good and all he needs is you to go to the light to find "The Good Life." The shadows in the cave can represent all the sins the darkness holds like lying, stealing, gossiping, saying bad words, and being someone you're not.  Once you find the light you can see that the shadows aren’t real outside of the darkness. The light outside the cave hurt his eyes at first because he was used to the darkness, that when he left the sun was blinding.  It's the same with God, God is the light and the cave and shadows are darkness and sins in people's lives. Once you first leave it’s blurry but then you get used to the light and you can see that the world outside of the cave is brilliant.  The other prisoners refused because they thought he was blind.  He couldn’t see because he had already seen the light and seen God, and now he can’t go back to the darkness.  In the end, the allegory of the cave taught us to go to the light, the Lord, and not to hold back and stay with the shadows."
– Linden A., 8th Grade

"This story symbolizes the relation between sin and holiness and beauty of God. The prisoners in the cave are people imprisoned in sin; locked up, chained, and constricted. We have a sinful human nature so everything that we do, see, or think is cursed by evil sin. Sin distorts our view of the world. We are blind to reality; we need a mediator to show us the truth. As Christians, when we come out of the cave and into the light it hurts to see the sin that we were living in. Once we are in the light, it's easier to spot and see how sinful we actually are. To live "The Good Life: we should come out into the light and see the truth of God. It hurt the prisoner, but once the pain was over he could see the truth. it would be so much easier to continue and keep living in our sin and to conform to the sins of the world. "The Good Life" shows a clear distinction between living in darkness and living with knowledge in the light."
– Anika A., 8th Grade

"The idea of exiting the dark cave and going into the light, even if it hurts, is what the Good Life is all about. In the light, we can see things as they truly are, and recognize that the “cave,”or a life of sin, is terrible. Because we were prisoners, we could only be released by someone else, and that someone is God, who wants us to recognize these things. It is not easy to live in the light, because we were so used to sin and darkness. But we cannot deny that the light is much better."
– Rebecca B., 8th Grade

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