April 14, 2008

FridayMonday in the wild: April 14, 2008

Way back in time, about when I first hit my stride as a blogger, it was my weekly habit to post a weekly "Friday in the Wild," highlighting the best reading I had seen in the blogosphere in the previous seven days. I felt it was a good way to encourage others to read blogs I also found interesting, and it was a decent way to wrap up a week in case I didn't have anything to say over the weekend.  Now that I'm starting to get back into the habit of regular (or at least semi-regular) posting again, I think it's time to start this again. Only this time, I'm starting the week this way, rather than ending it. For now.

Some of these stories might be a little old by now, but who cares?

When I teach Sunday school, contextualizing means I take my passage and explain the historical, social, political, or literary circumstances that surround its writing: pointing out, for example, that to understand the book of Jeremiah properly, it is necessary to know the following:

  • Jeremiah's ministry was to Judah about 100 years after the destruction of the northern kingdom of Israel.
  • In his lifetime, Judah had five kings, all of whom were deposed or destroyed by foreign powers.
  • Israel was then a vassal state of the declining empire of Assyria.
  • To counter the rising threat of the Babylonian empire, the Hebrews were forging political alliances with old enemies such as Egypt.
  • The patriotic Jeremiah saw, firsthand, the destruction of his nation at the hands of Babylon in 586 BC.

Contextualization also involves bridging the historical and cultural gap between his day and ours: what similar circumstances are there between 6th-century BC Judah and 21st-century Canada that make the ministry of the prophet relevant to us?

However, Phil Johnson points out that contextualization means something quite different in our postmodern age:

In the early 1970s, left-leaning missiologists made contextualization into a religious shibboleth. They also turned the dictionary definition of the word inside out. They weren't talking about studying or explaining biblical truth in its own context; instead, what they wanted to do was adapt and stylize religious ideas and symbols to fit into the cultural context of their target audience - namely oppressed and marginalized people groups.

It wasn't long before hip, young evangelicals discovered and embraced the basic concept, and then franchised it. Instead of targeting impoverished and downtrodden people, however, they turned contextualization into a tool for attracting Yuppies.

[Read Context and Contextualization]

While this article is somewhat older (there's no way I can claim something published nearly a month ago is a highlight of my week!), it was the start of a series on Acts 17: Paul's apologetic before the Areopagus in Athens. Today, Phil closed off the series with a post on "charitableness," the definition of which will look familiar to anyone who's had to endure the works of Brian McLaren and friends:

"Charitableness" (the postmodern substitute for charity) is something altogether different. It's a broad-minded, insouciantly tolerant, unrelenting goodwill toward practically every conceivable opinion. Its twin virtue - often labeled "epistemic humility' - is a cool refusal to hold any firm and settled convictions. These cardinal postmodern moral values are both seasoned with blithe indifference to the dangers of heresy.

[Read Paul and Charitableness]

You can also read the entire series in one fell swoop. Good stuff.

John Piper posted C. S. Lewis' five rules of writing for children. While I've never read this list, as a professional communicator I have always tried to achieve the same goals, though not always successfully.

Suzanne of Big Blue Wave comments on a recent challenge to pro-life bloggers by feminist bloggers opposing Bill C-484, to "[f]ind one reputatable [sic], established organization working against violence against women that publicly endorses this bill."  When I first heard of this, I saw it as a good example of the so-called No True Scotsman fallacy: the ones issuing the challenge are most likely the arbiters of what constitutes a "reputatable [sic], established organization."  Suzanne says as much herself:

This "dare" by the feminists is ideologically motivated. They're trying to pretend that the feminists who are dominant in among those who combat women's violence are the arbiters of what is and is not in the best interests of women.

[Read The Only People for Whom C-484 is About Abortion are Feminists]

The best reason to support C-484 is not that "reputatable [sic], established organizations" also support it; it's because in addition to the harm to her own person, an expectant mother who is assaulted until she miscarries, or murdered, loses something very valuable to her. The increased severity of the punishment ought to be proportional to the increased severity of the crime.

Finally, Jay at the venerable LTI Blog has this to say about the Robert Latimer case recently back in the news:

Mark [Pickup] published the trial evidence that Tracy was not miserable all of the time and actually enjoyed life as reported by her own mother in a communication book. This is the same mother that characterized her daughter’s life as torturous meaningless suffering at the trial of her husband. Mark reports that Robert Latimer considered poisoning Tracy or shooting her in the head before deciding to gas her to death during his two weeks of planning the murder. Finally, Mark expresses the “uncharitable” opinion that Tracy’s disabilities did not define her value as a human being and that her father was wrong to murder her. . . .

Hey Latimer-heads, Robert Latimer decided that Tracy’s life was not worth the trouble and pain her living caused him and he killed her. He murdered his daughter and that is not heroic. Murder is not mercy. If you are too morally confused to see that, then I pray that you never find yourself an expendable inconvenience in another’s eyes. You may suddenly see the inherent danger in the precedent Latimer is now trying to set.

[Read Undisputed Fact: Robert Latimer is a Murderer]

Mark Pickup's original post may be found at HumanLifeMatters for reference.

On the search engine front

Be careful what you wish for, because you might get it: Awhile back, I remarked that the weird search hits seemed to have disappeared.  I spoke too soon.  Here are some of the ways that people have found help (I hope) on this site, and if not, it's an opportunity to make snide remarks about them.

So until Friday (or maybe next Friday), Share and Enjoy.