Through Values to Social Interpretation: Essays on Social Contexts, Actions, Types, and Prospects

Through Values to Social Interpretation: Essays on Social Contexts, Actions, Types, and Prospects

Through Values to Social Interpretation: Essays on Social Contexts, Actions, Types, and Prospects

Through Values to Social Interpretation: Essays on Social Contexts, Actions, Types, and Prospects

Excerpt

THE GREAT GAME of parliamentary politics, when it is unscrupulously played, includes the merry practice of taking the utterances of opponents out of context and using them to yield meanings directly opposite to those initially intended. Politics? In the good old days of sectarian controversy, devoutly religious men chose proof texts from this or that part of Holy Writ and used them in ways entirely foreign to their real meaning; the context was ignored by both the controversialists and their hearers. Religion? Even scholars and scientists have been known to wrench phrases, sentences, or paragraphs from their settings and exhibit them as appalling examples of the stupidity or sheer ignorance of someone belonging to another school of thought, whereas due heed to the context might have reduced the argument to much ado about nothing. Who shall cast the first stone?

Further, overconfidence, carelessness, or sheer inability to understand the essentials of a contrasting point of view may lead to the switching of meaning to the wrong track. For instance, the value-system of many parts of the Old Testament is radically different from a great portion of the New. Failing to recognize this, Christians have often used the Old Testament formula "The Lord watch between me and thee while we are absent one from another" as a sort of mutual benediction or joint invocation of the kindly care of a loving Heavenly Father -- they have interpreted it from the standpoint of New Testament values. Actually, Laban's reference to the Mizpah formula was one showing utter distrust: Yahweh (the Lord) was called upon as avenging judge in the event of violation by Jacob of a clan marriage and boundary agreement. Old . . .

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