Guruzilla's /var/log/knowledge-junkie
["the chatter of a missionary sysadmin"]

mmm, books

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reheated coffee

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{ Now playing: Talking Heads, Remain in Light

Recent movie: Forbidden Planet *****

Current books: II Cor.; Lee, The Clash of Civilizations; Brust, The Phoenix Guards

Current Cookery: Mashed Potatoes


This is why I love books: some clever b******* pulls together everything and says it in a way that can't, probably, be surpassed. Here this Lee fellow gets together exactly the problem statement for what I'm up to:

Correlatively, the gospel itself is both shaped by its cultural history and interpreted by cultural beings. Hence, there is no easy way to leap from the first century to the twentieth century, from the civilization of ancient Jerusalem to the modernity of either the West or Japan. In other words, contextualization of the gospel in Japan for the foreign missionary is at least twofold, requiring wrestling anew with the biblical story in new and ever-changing cultural contexts, as well and learning to be bi-cultural.

--Robert Lee, The Clash of Civilizations: An Intrusive Gospel in Japanese Civilization (Trinity Press Int'l, 1999), p. 62.

After attempting to play some Tony Hawk Skater Pro on the PS2 t'other night, I want to liken it to a skater move with a double motion involved: the kick and the flip, the stand and the twist, the leap and grab (and don't forget trying to land it). The double hermeneutic is a heluva maneuver. "Getting it right" is hard enough in bloody English, let alone then going from one's own hard-won interpretation, and flipping it inside-out to make sense to someone whose head is, so to speak, boiled in something else entirely.

This perhaps is why missionary efforts to the 'Far East' have failed in so many places and ways: while "just anybody" was considered sufficient for Africa, we ('the West') sent our "best and brightest" to China and Japan. The trouble is, "the best and brightest" might be the very best within their home culture, top university men, but the ability to turn around one's own interpretation, disassemble it, and kick it back out to an audience of a wholly alien culture is something entirely other. There's a double movement, as Lee describes so nicely above, which is a cultural and even linguistic gift not necessarily correlated to monocultural success.

This is why, contemplating adding some real-world+outside-world experience to my own vocation is extremely daunting to me, aside from the wholly practical and worldly difficulties which should discourage me were I not counting on Providence to assist, at the least. I have difficulty being really sure I've got it right in my own head, let alone communicating really good news to anybody. And then to make sense to people really alien, truly other? 'Zounds! (As Myron would say.)

To sum up: I'm a d*** fool. Thank God He's kind to the foolish and the ungrateful ( Lk. 6:35; I Cor. 3:18-19).

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