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Archive for the ‘context’ Category

Acronyms

Acronym. It’s a good word. I like the word “anacronym” too, which is the reverse of acronyms. Anacronyms are puzzles they give you in school. Take your name, for example, and using one word for each letter, describe yourself. I could do Literary Intellectual States Absolutes.

Acronyms are very popular, especially if they are pronounceable. Ladies against Feminism is abbreviated LAF, pronounced cleverly just like “laugh.” In the military, for no particular reason they name their gear, bases, maneuvers, groups, etc. with large, meaningless titles then abbreviate them into acronyms. If you’re motivated and immersed, you can catch on to the important ones. If you’re just a friend or a sister, like me, military men are speaking foreign languages.

On PBS, whose documentary on fighter jets I am watching right now, they are very good. They say, “Surface to air missiles, or SAMs” or “SAMs, Surface to Air Missiles” so that we the abbreviation illiterate can understand. Until my friends and brother learn to speak documentary, I have to raise my hand to ask or whisper to a friend sitting by for a translation.

For my brother’s birthday we went to an army surplus store, which is a large building crammed (you have no idea, really) with camoflage, coats, hats, belts, boots and tons of other stuff to whose uses I am oblivious floor to ceiling, wall to wall, with only space for two people to march shoulder to shoulder between each aisle. They are all identified with acronyms. Add to this the more understandable abbreviations like XL (extra large), symbols like $, and I’m just the most confused, overwhelmed little girl ever.

Another field that uses acronyms all the time is the computer industry. DOS, RAM, gigabytes (or is that a word?). My other brother understands computer language. Does HTML stand for something, or is its cryptic title depictive of the code-world you enter when you “view source” on a web page? Is this stuff supposed to make sense? Wasn’t it hard enough to learn spelling and grammar for my language?

Speaking of learning languages, in the nursery at our church this morning I was working with a little girl, trying to get her to talk. Before this morning it never occurred to me to teach children English in the same way high school students learn a foreign language. We start with simple words, usually nouns. Then we form them into basic sentences. Slowly we teach sentence structure and verb agreement. If you apply the same to English, does it work? I always assumed language just happened to infants immersed in company. Following the pattern for foreign languages, I guess the rest of your life you’ll be working on teaching objectives and subjectives and perfect tenses.

If I ever learn acronym language – really master it – maybe I’ll write a dictionary or glossary. The Quick Reference Glossary of Military Acronyms. Actually my brother tells me it would be several inches thick. Sounds overwhelming, like when I read Out of the Silent Planet by CS Lewis and Ransom envisions publishing a Malacandrian grammar. Good thing he was a philologist!

To God be all glory.

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Why cultural context is essential to understanding instructions given in that context:

Take as an example the US Constitution. The men who debated about, wrote, and signed that document, and the people who finally ratified it, had certain beliefs and experiences which the wording of the document specially suited. Nearly every resident in the new country had witnessed the oppression under King George and the resulting revolution. Not only that: they had been immersed in philosophical and rational defenses of that revolution through the press and official statements such as the Declaration of Independence. There is a Creator, they affirmed, who originally endowed all men with rights. Rights are something the citizens of the new thirteen confederated states understood. Although rights were enumerated in the Bill of Rights after the ratification of the Constitution, they were recognized and fought for during the war. One rally-cry was the right to representation if one was taxed. The Declaration of Independence is a magnificent record of the beliefs at the heart of the revolution and at the establishment of a strong central government several years later.

These men believed rights to be inalienable, unbreachable by any law man could make or any violence man could inflict. The national anthem, in its fourth verse, asserts, “When our cause it is just…” The founders believed in justice. And it was not their belief that established its existence. Justice existed, and they recognized that. They built a life, a country, and a political system on that reality.

When we look at the system we inherit from the illustrious men who wrote the Constitution, we are often at a disadvantage. In our philosophical ignorance, the system does not fit. The constitution does not cover questions that have arisen in the modern culture. Why?

I submit that the Constitution could not plan for a people so given to individual indulgence and so scornful of the absolute laws that govern men and nature. It was prepared as the governing document of that system. Many statesmen recognized that if the philosophical status quo changed in our country, our government would fail.

Indeed, though the Constitution has been adapted over the years, or in some cases ignored or willfully misinterpreted, it has been unsuccessful in conforming to the new framework of thought in our country. I am skeptical whether any system can hold stability in a nation where absolutes and justice are denied. It is just such a spirit of complete democracy that causes the insurgencies in democratic countries in Europe, Africa, and South America. Nevertheless, it is impossible to comprehend the original intent of the framers while denying their fundamental beliefs.

I could go into the ways the original Constitution is misinterpreted and misapplied, but that is outside the scope of this paper.

Why maintaining or restoring the original culture is essential to the effectiveness of an instruction:

My real intention is to say that just as the culture of the late eighteenth century was essential not only to the interpretation, but also to the success of the government instituted for that time, so many parts of the culture of the first century after Christ are essential for the comprehension and effectiveness of the instructions given in the New Testament. I say ‘many parts’ because it is possible that some cultural pieces do not affect the matrix of the whole. Perhaps we would do better to study which of those pieces are essential to the success of the biblical system than to strive for a melted and conformed set of man-manipulated instructions to apply to our modern state of rebellion.

Instead of saying that women were not allowed to speak in church “back then” because of the cultural stigma against women drawing public attention to themselves, and therefore trying to shove meanings into the words of Paul which he did not intend or foresee, we should see whether that piece of their culture contributed to the harmony of the early Christian families and Church. Rather than assuming that our wisdom is more enlightened than the wisdom that God imparted to the apostles and early church, we should study that wisdom and put into practice as much of it as possible.

This is not to deny the eternal relevance of the Bible. It is much more. I intend to picture the live and powerful nature of the Bible, its effectiveness to transform lives and cultures.

Man’s attempts at reforming culture are falling utterly short. In many cases, Christians have surrendered, and have embraced the fallen culture in which they live. It is time to forsake the wisdom of men and return to the wisdom of God, whatever the cost. It is time to ignore the scorn of the world and be different. It is time to take God at His word and see what He will accomplish.

To God be all glory.

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