Tuesday, July 25, 2017

21. Conquest by Peace

"Conquest by Peace" is the title of chapter 24 of Konrad Heiden's 1944 book, Der Fuehrer.  See the bottom for previous posts.

1. Make no mistake, there is no love for Hitler in this chapter. But perhaps there was a hint of admiration for the talent of an evil man at one skill. And indeed, although Hitler was presiding over the murder and oppression of swaths of his own people, he managed to calm a nervous world with talk of peace.

One of the most striking comments of Heiden is that Hitler may have even believed himself. We are not looking for the Germanization of the world, he told the world. They did not want war. They needed peace. Hitler agreed with the proposal of US President Roosevelt when he argued that the nations of Europe should only keep a defensive military but do away with offensive weapons like planes, tanks, and such.

Germany only wanted the right of self-determination, the right to truly be German. They did not begrudge the rest of the world its own right to be French or British or Italian or Russia. "Germany does not think of an attack, but of her security" (620), said the new dictator of Germany.

Perhaps Hitler even believed it in the moment. But it was not in his nature. You cannot believe what people like Hitler say. You have to see beyond what they even see of themselves to their true nature and destiny, which is the destruction of all around them.

2. The world wanted to believe Hitler. Perhaps in his more honest moments, he was doing with peace what he did with democracy. Having used democracy to destroy democracy, now he would use peace to destroy peace.

He did not have an army, he said. The SA are not an army, he said. War would not bring the much needed peace to Europe. What would bring peace, according to Hitler, was letting each national entity be itself, and Germany would not begrudge other nationalities from doing the same. "She wants nothing for herself which she is not willing to give others" (621).

"An extraordinary number of people were immediately convinced" (624). Hitler had done it again. He had changed his message to fit the expediency of the moment. "Facts were powerless against the tone of truth in Hitler's speeches" (624). "With his peace speech Hitler had immediately become the most powerful and most widely heard speaker in the world" (625).

"Fate, for a moment at least, put it in his power to say what the world felt" (627). Even President Roosevelt was enthusiastic about Hitler's vision for peace.

3. Meanwhile, parliaments and democracies were fading away all over Europe. Mussolini was already a dictator in Italy. The leader of Poland had slowly taken the role of a dictator. The leader in Austria, in a dispute over the rules of parliament, sent parliament home and never called it back. Only Czechoslovakia remained a democracy, isolated in eastern Europe.

"While incomprehensible and hideous things kept happening in Germany, which foreboded nothing good for the future of the rest of the world, Hitler's policy toward foreign countries was of a suppleness, indeed a compliancy, which should have aroused amazement, except for the fact that people see only what they expect and perceive the new only after it has become customary" (614).

  • Never trust the word of a madman wanting to lead, even when in his own mind he is speaking truthfully.
  • The rising dictator, still gaining power, can lull his opponents into a self-defeating acquiescence because they do not want to face the need for painful action while it is still possible.
  • People only see what they want to see, until they get used to the new normal, when they then deny that anything is truly wrong. Frogs will deny that the temperature is dangerously rising until they have become used to the boiling water.
Previously on Hitler:

Monday, July 24, 2017

Paul Novel 4.6 Blow-Up at Antioch

continued from last week
But everything changed when more men arrived from Jerusalem, from James. When they saw that the Christian Jews were eating with Gentiles--indeed that Peter himself was--they took Peter aside.

"What are you doing, Peter?" they asked him. "You are the apostle, the first one to whom our risen Lord appeared! You have to set the tone. You have to be an example for the church because everyone is looking to you as their leader."

They explained to Peter that it was exactly this sort of situation that James had feared. Did Peter know for sure whether the Gentiles he was with were clean? Did he know how the meat had been prepared? Did he know what kind of life they were living?

It all came to a head the next Lord's Day. In the morning, they all met for worship in the morning by the river. But that evening the love feast was to take place at the home of Titus' family. As they were about to disperse for the day's work, Titus' father Menander stood up to remind everyone where the love feast was to be held that day.

At this point Peter stood up and interrupted. "We need to make some changes in the love feasts from here on. Because we who are Jews have to keep the Law, we cannot eat the meal with the God-fearers. And there are too many of you really to meet in only one house anyway. So we who are Jews will be having our love feast at the home of Menaen, while the Gentile believers will continue to meet at the home of Menander."

Paul was completely taken off guard, as were Menander and the other God-fearers. There was an audible murmur among the group. Barnabas, who was standing next to Paul, knew what was about to happen and grabbed Paul by the arm. "Paul, don't say anything publicly. We'll meet with Peter and figure this out. Just let it go for now and we'll get to the bottom of this."

Paul completely ignored him.

"This is hypocrisy!" Paul said loudly. "You do not keep the Law, Peter! You are a hypocrite," Paul said angrily. "I was a Pharisee. I know what it is to keep the Law. You don't keep the Law. Do you tithe your mint or cummin? Why you ate at the house of Mycenas this last Tuesday. You would have these Gentiles become zealous keepers of the Jewish Law when you yourself are not zealous for the Law.

There was another gasp to hear Paul confronting one of the pillars, one of the very disciples of the Lord. Paul then turned to the Gentiles in the group.

"Gentiles, God does not consider us to be in right standing before him because of these works of the Law, things like circumcision, purity laws, Sabbath observance. These works of the Law will not justify anyone before God. God has only made Israel--and now all God's people--finally right again with him again through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ, as I have heard Peter himself preach!"

Saturday, July 22, 2017

9.5 Relationships in Inductive Circuits

This is the fifth week of Module 9, "Relationships of Current, Counter EMF, and Voltage in LR Circuits." These modules are part of the Navy Basic Electricity and Electronics series from the 1970s. The fifth section of this module is titled, "Relationships in Inductive Circuits."

9.1 Rise and Decay of Current and Voltage
9.2 LR Time Constant
9.3 Universal Time Constant Chart
9.4 Inductive Reactance

1. The previous units have set out a number of relationships. For example, the "reactance" of an inductive circuit, the equivalent of its resistance, is found by the equation XL = 2πfL, where f is the frequency of alternating current and L is the inductance.

So we can substitute XL for resistance in the earlier equations.
  • Since E = IR, then E = I * XL
  • Since I = E/R, then I = E/XL
  • Since R=E/I, then XL= E/I
2. In normal circuits, power equals current times voltage, P = EI. Or substituting in for E, P = I2R.

In a purely inductive circuit, power is never consumed, but we can speak of "apparent power." It is symbolized by Pa, and it is measured in volt-amperes (va), not watts.

What happens is that the power is supplied by the AC source, stored for part of the cycle in the inductor, and then returned to the source. The amount of volt amps stored in the inductor is called the reactive power (Px). In a purely inductive circuit, it is the same as the apparent power. We say it is measured in "vars," "volt-amps reactive."

Six "Wise" Generations

So I like genealogy stuff.

Wise Cemetery west of Camden, Indiana

1. Samuel Wise, great, great, great, great grandfather
  • Buried in Carroll County
  • Born in 1783 in Woodbury, Pennsylvania
  • Owned land from Camden to Delphi along Deer Creek. 
  • Helped found the German Baptist Brethren Church in Camden in 1828 
  • Died in 1841.
Site of German Baptist Brethren
Church founded 1828

2. Leonard Wise, great, great, great grandfather

  • Born 1810 in Montgomery Ohio
  • Came with father to Carroll County, Indiana in the mid-1820s
  • Died in Camden, 1889

3. Elias Wise (great, great grandfather)
  • Born in 1850 in Carroll County, Indiana
  • Went with the split away from the group that would become the Church of the Brethren in 1889. The group he went with called themselves the Old German Baptist Brethren  
  • Died in 1929, Buried in Camden

4. Salome (Wise) Miller (great grandmother)
  • Born 1878 in Carroll County, Indiana
  • Married Amsey Miller in 1900
  • They stayed with the Old German Baptist Brethren in 1919 when a group they call the "horse and buggy" brethren split off opposed to cars and electricity.
  • In 1912ish, moved from a brick house west of Camden to a house on the northwest corner of Camden itself.
  • Died in 1946 in Camden

Deer Creek Old German Baptist Brethren Church

5. Esther (Miller) Schenck (grandmother)
Dorsey and Esther Schenck, 1920
  • Born in 1902 in Carroll County
  • Married Dorsey Schenck in 1920 in her home in Camden
  • Got saved in a tent revival in Delphi and was Pilgrim Holiness until the merger that formed the Wesleyan Church in 1968.
  • Died in Indianapolis in 1977

6. Lee Schenck (father)

  • born in Thorntown, 1924
  • Married Helen Shepherd in 1947 in Frankfort
  • Pilgrim and Wesleyan
  • Passed in 2012
Dad, me, and son Tom

Friday, July 21, 2017

Adam and the Genome 7: Four Principles for Bible Reading

Chapter 5 begins the second set of chapters, by Scot McKnight in Dennis Venema and Scot McKnight's book, Adam and the Genome: Reading Scripture after Genetic Science.

Previous posts
Personal Preface
Forward and Introduction
1. Evolution as a Scientific Theory
2. Genomes as Language, Genomes as Books
3. Adam's Last Stand?
4. Intelligent Design?

Chapter 5
Chapter 5 is titled, "Adam, Eve, and the Genome: Four Principles for Reading the Bible after the Human Genome Project."

1. Scot begins the chapter with his own story, which is so similar to so many of us. Indeed, he mentions a student who came up to him after a lecture at North Park University and said, "Thank you. This lecture saved my faith" (104). I don't know if this claim is true, but McKnight claims that "The number one reason young Christians leave the faith is the conflict between science and faith, and that conflict can be narrowed to the conflict between evolutionary theory and human origins as traditionally read in Genesis 1-2" (104-15).

This brings me to a request for the majority of Christians who do not struggle with this issue or who have come to the conclusion that the science for creationism is clear cut. I dare say that we all have thoughts about God and the Bible that are wrong. How could we not? It is sobering to see the issues where Christians have vehemently said, "It's this way, no other," only for others to agree later that they were completely wrong.

I don't believe that our precise understandings save us. I don't believe the Bible teaches that our understanding saves us. We are saved on the basis of our faith in Jesus Christ. You will not find a verse that says we can only be saved if we have a particular understanding of the Bible or science. Rather "the one who comes to God must believe that he exists and rewards those who diligently seek him" (Heb. 11:6).

So Christians need to leave a space for other Christians who struggle on the questions of science or who have reached different conclusions on matters of science and faith. Souls are at stake. Woe to anyone who puts a stumblingblock before one of these little ones! Now that's actually something the Bible says, Jesus in fact.

2. Here are some quotes from the early part of the chapter:
  • "There is a better way, one that permits each of the disciplines to speak its own language but also requires each of the voices to speak to one another" (94).
  • A defining moment for Scot was asking himself the question "whether traditional interpretations of Genesis 1-2 were perhaps well intended but misguided and in need of rethinking" (95).
  • "Every statement about Adam and Eve in the Old Testament, in Jewish literature, and in the New Testament is made from a context and into a context" (97).
3. Scot sets out four principles in this discussion:

A. Respect - "To understand what someone is telling us, we must respect that person as a person" (98). In terms of Genesis 1-11, "we must respect that text as designed for the ancient Near Eastern culture" (99). "It is disrespectful to Genesis 1-11 to think it somehow should understand modern science, DNA, and the Human Genome Project, or for that matter the science of any generation after the writing down of Genesis 1-11!

"Genuine respect begins when we let Genesis 1-11 be Genesis 1-11, which means letting Genesis 1-11 be ancient Near Eastern and not modern Western science" (100).

B. Honesty - "Face the facts and do not fear the facts" (100). "Are you willing to face the facts--the facts of the Bible and the facts of science?"

McKnight makes the controversial claim that some of the most ardent defenders of certain interpretations of the Bible on these issues might actually be afraid. They are afraid to open the door to such questions because they are afraid it will lead them to lose their faith.

McKnight does not only ascribe this kind of uncharitable spirit to creationists but to some Christian evolutionists as well. He quotes Ron Osborn: "I have often been equally dismayed by the attitudes evinced by some individuals on the other side of the debate over creation and evolution... how quickly some are prepared to write off people of sincere faith who are at different places in their intellectual and spiritual journeys" (101).

C. Sensitivity to the Student of Science
I already mentioned the student whose faith McKnight says was saved by him opening up the window to the possibility of having faith and yet not concluding God created the universe 10,000 years ago. "The student is in my rearview mirror in all I have to say in my section of this book" (105).

D. Primacy of Scripture
Scot is an evangelical, so the Bible always comes first. The investigation of truth can go to other bodies of knowledge in addition to the Bible, but it always starts with the Bible: "Scripture first.'

4. He ends the chapter with a sense of some of the complexity these discussions can take on. For example, what do we mean by the "historical" Adam and Eve? Another view of Adam and Eve is the "archetypal view," Adam and Eve as representatives of all humanity. His sense of a "literary" view does not so much draw conclusions on the historical, but looks at them within the text of the Bible.

More to come...

Jamestown 4

continued from last week
On June 22, 1607, a little over a month after the group had settled on the peninsula of Jamestown, Captain Newport returned to England to get more supplies and to take back some pyrite that they thought was gold. Since they left behind one of the ships, The Discovery, John Smith took it upon himself to explore the area. He found it difficult to stay put in the settlement with someone else in charge whom he didn't particularly think knew what he was doing.

On three trips in The Discovery, John Smith mapped out the area. His maps of what we call Chesapeake Bay were to serve generations to come. On one of these mapping ventures, he had his famous encounter with Powhatan. This was the incident when he said Pocahontas plead for his life. Of course he never even mentioned this version of the story until some time later. Some think he embellished the story after the fact.

While exploring a small tributary in a canoe, he and two others came under attack. He was hit by an arrow in the leg, but the natives lowered their bows when he lowered his pistol. The other two men with him were killed, as were most of those back at his main ship.

For many days, he was their prisoner. First of one of the lower kings, Opechancanough, kept him. Smith amazed them with his compass and with tales of the universe. “The earth is the center of a number of concentric circles,” he told them, “with the sun on one, the moon on another, Venus on yet another.” Either Smith had not yet heard of Copernicus or he did not believe him. The glass covering of his compass fascinated Opechancanough. The native king could see the compass needle but could not touch it. Glass was unknown to the native Americans.

On another occasion, Smith convinced them to send two natives with a notepad back to James Towne. The message was that he was being well treated and they should not launch any attacks. When the messengers returned with the things Smith had written down, Openchancanough was amazed, since he did not understand how writing worked.

Eventually, Smith was able to meet the great king of the Powhatan nation, Powhatan himself. Before then, he was taken from one group to the next, one house to the next. They were showing him off to the whole nation, bit by bit.

Powhatan, whose actual name was Wahunsunacock, treated Smith with honor. When asked why the English had come, Smith created an elaborate lie about fleeing the Spanish and the settlement only being temporary.

It was on this occasion that he said they seized him and took him to a rock, as if they were going to bash his head repeatedly into it. It was at this point that Pocahontas was said to rush over and put his head in her hands, putting her cheek against his, pleading for mercy from her father.

So Powhatan spared him and made him a chief. Some think the event might have been some sort of ritual.

For the next few months, the settlement had more and more direct interaction with the Native Americans. Every few days, Pocahontas would bring supplies to the fort. Sometimes the English and the natives got along well. At other times it was rough.

Neither trusted the other. From time to time one side would seize a couple people from the other. Then they would negotiate their return. The natives seemed to respect Smith the most.

Captain Christopher Newport returned with the First Supply on January 8, 1608 and brought 120 more people to add to the mere 38 who had survived the winter. When he arrived, he found that the fort had just burned to the ground...

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Gen Eds LC4: How to Learn a Language

1. I have dabbled in a number of languages over the years. I consider English the only language I am really fluent in. My spoken German is not horrible. Mi Español es horible. Perhaps I could order a meal in French.

As far as written languages are concerned, with enough time I can read German, French, and Spanish, as far as living languages are considered. I am good at biblical Greek. I can make my way well enough in Latin and Hebrew. Aramaic is close enough to Hebrew that I could take a shot.

As far as languages I have studied but remain fully incompetent at, there is Akkadian and Sanskrit. I have started Arabic, Coptic, and Ethiopic. I know a few phrases in several other languages.

So I have some experience at least at starting to learn languages (I have colleagues that far surpass me). How would I recommend going about learning a language?

Learning Style
2. A question you will want to ask early on is, "What kind of a learner am I?" For example, do I remember best by hearing? Do I remember best by seeing? Do I learn best by speaking? Do I remember best when I understand why? How do I best learn stuff?

Frankly, you're pretty much going to need to do all of these if you're going to learn a language. There is the question of writing or speaking. Why am I learning this language? To go on vacation? To become a spy or work for the NSA? Am I just wanting to read scholarship in other languages?

Google Translate leaves me speechless. Yes, it often comes up with weird stuff from the perspective of native speakers. But, dang, if this stuff had existed when my brain was young.

If you are visiting a country that speaks another language, it makes sense to get some basic pleasantries down. It's really common courtesy and you will get a lot more cooperation if you can say "Please" and "Thank you." The arrogance of many an American overseas who expect everyone to speak English and conform to their expectations is embarrassing. No, we don't put ketchup on our "fries" here. Go home if you can't deal with it. You're the foreigner here.

I personally do not learn well merely by sound. You can tell me verbally a hundred times and it means nothing. In one ear and out the other. I have to see the words written down and hear them. Then I need to speak it. And my rate of learning increases exponentially if I understand the structure of the language.

The best learning software these days has you listen, repeat back, read, and write. That gets you to a certain point in learning the language. Beyond that, you need to engage the real stuff. You need to engage people who really speak the language. In the end, you really need an immersion experience in a country where that language is the language.

3. Not everyone will be able to learn another language proficiently, although everyone can try. I've known of missionaries who struggled with a sense of defeat because they were not able to master the language of the people. In the future, a person probably should not go as a missionary to a country whose language they cannot learn. Never say never, of course.

There is a strong temptation not to immerse oneself even when you are in a country that speaks a foreign language. If you are there with family, the temptation is to speak English at home and only speak the other language when you have to in public. This is death to language learning.

Being on an English speaking military base or being in a business context where you have a translator is almost like not even being in the country. Certainly forget about really learning the language. This is not immersion.

I spent two months in Germany in 95. I was alone and so had no native English speakers to speak to. My German friends would only speak English to me if I broke down, which I did very often. I had learned German for reading and no doubt they wondered if I knew any German at all. (By the way, I believe some Asian countries used to teach English in this way, which is why I suspect some Asians in the past used to receive the same reaction as my German friends to me).

But at some point in those two months I reached some sort of critical mass so that more and more of the conversation was in German. A highlight of one stay in Germany was when I gave a ride to a Dutch hitchhiker and it took a few minutes for us both to realize that neither of us was actually German.

It is my personal opinion--to which I welcome correction from experts--that having an ear for music is a great help in language learning.

A Basic Learning Sequence
4. Let me set out a basic sequence for learning a language to speak:
  • Learn the alphabet
  • Learn the basic conversation phrases
  • Understand the type of language--how does it work?
  • Learn 1000 words.
  • Go through a basic software package on it.
  • Start going through a grammar.
  • Start listening to native speakers on radio and/or internet. 
  • Read the Bible in that language.
  • Start having immersion experiences in a relevant country.
More on these in a moment.

5. For the academy, most languages are taught for reading and they are taught in a compressed, grammatical manner. I learned Latin, Greek, and Hebrew in order to read texts. Accordingly, I did not learn conversational tidbits. My learning of German and French was similarly first to be able to read scholarly books. So there was no conversational German or French in my graduate, one semester courses in these languages. It was memorizing grammatical tables.

You sometimes hear people mock this approach to learning ancient Greek or another language. "If I could only learn it like I learned English or some other language," I have heard. I actually think this response itself lacks understanding. How many years did it take you to learn English--sixteen to get to the English level that the Greek New Testament is at? And the child's brain is far more spongy than our brains the older we get. I hate my 50 year old brain more every day.

The fact of the matter is, the way dead languages and languages for scholarship are traditionally taught is the fastest way to cram in those languages for reading. If someone ever comes up with a conversational way to learn ancient Greek, let's see how many years it takes you to get as far as a concentrated grammar class can get in two semesters. It's called grammar, baby.

1. Alphabets
6. So let's say you really want to learn a language. You want to speak and read it.

The first step I would take in learning a language is the alphabet. For most European languages, this step is a cinch. I was surprised when I first learned that Spanish and German have letters that are not in the English alphabet. At the beginning, I naively thought that all languages have the same letters and sounds and that it's just that some languages write them differently.

Not so!
  • Spanish has the ñ (enye), which is pronounced with an "ny" sound. Spanish and French also have letters with accents on top. Some English speakers get annoyed, "What's the difference, it's an e?" Well, él means "he" in Spanish, while el means "the." Just because you don't know enough to tell the difference doesn't mean they don't.
  • German has the umlaut letters (ä, ö, ü). We have difficulty hearing these sounds that are completely obvious to a native speaker. My wife had a prolonged exchange with a bus driver in Tübingen, Germany, trying to get to Bühl. "Bool?" she said. "Was?" he said. "Bool?" she said? "Was?" he said. "Bool?" she said. "Ah, Bühl," he said. "Ja, wir fahren nach Bühl."
 7. Of course the further away on the branches of Indo-European languages you get, the more likely that the "script" will be different.
  • The Greek alphabet is not too difficult because many of the letters look similar. Others we learned in math and science: α, β, γ, δ, ε, ζ, η, θ, ι, κ, λ, μ, ν, ξ, ο, π, ρ, σ, τ, υ, φ, χ, ψ, ω.
  • The Russian alphabet was based in part on the Greek alphabet: а, б, в, г, д, е, ё, ж, з, и, й, к, л, м, н, о, п, р, с, т, у, ф, х, ц, ч, ш, щ, ъ, ы, ь, э, ю, я.
  • The Hindi alphabet hangs its letters from a line: क, ख, ग, घ, ङ, च, छ, ज, झ, ञ, ट, ठ, ड, ढ, ण, त, थ, द, ध, ऩ, प, फ, ब, भ, म, य, र, ऱ, ल, ळ, ऴ, व, श, ष, स, ह
The Semitic languages get a little more complicated because they sometimes have one form of a letter for the beginning of a word, another for the middle of a word, and yet another for the end of a word.
  • The Hebrew alphabet is: א,ב,ג,ד,ה,ו,ז,ח,ט,י,כ,ל,מ,נ,ס,ע,פ,צ,ק,ר,ש,ת. Hebrew is different from the other languages above in that it reads from right to left and, in a book, from back to front (by English reckoning).
  • The Arabic alphabet is:
      ا ,ب ,ت ,ث ,ج ,ح ,خ ,د ,ذ ,ر ,ز ,س ,ش ,ص ,ض ,ط ,ظ ع , غ ,ف ,ق ,ك ,ل ,م ,ن ,ه ,و ,ى Like the Hebrew alphabet, you read from right to left.
8. One of the challenges of Chinese is that it does not really have an alphabet. Rather, as an analytic language, it puts together individual bits of meaning. There are over 100,000 variations of its characters, but if you know about 2600 of them, you know over 98% of what you would need in everyday language.

Interestingly, different Chinese languages pronounce the characters differently. So someone who speaks Mandarin and someone who speaks Cantonese would not be able to understand each other's spoken language, but they might be able to understand each other if they wrote down what they were saying.

2. Basic Phrases
9. As I go through the various languages and cultures in this series, here are the conversational phrases we will learn:
  • Hello and Goodbye
  • Good morning, afternoon, evening, and night
  • Yes and no
  • How are you?
  • Please, thank you, sorry, excuse me, you're welcome
  • My name is... Pleased to meet you.
  • I don't speak ____. Do you speak English?
  • I do not understand.
  • I would like...
  • Where is...
  • How much?
  • I am ...
3. Type of Language
10. At some point, if you are going to get serious about learning the language, you will need to know how it works. This relates to the previous post. Is it basically a matter of learning words and putting them in the right order (analytic)? Great. Then learning vocabulary is going to be the big deal.

Is it an inflected language that changes the endings? Oh boy, you're probably going to need to memorize some charts. Is it an agglutinating language? Then you'll need to learn a lot of meaning bits that get stuck inside words.

11. I hate to say it but you're just going to have to learn some words to get a language. This is where I am at with several languages. If you don't have a critical mass of words, you're not going to understand much. I wish I could say I was the master.

There are no end of flash cards, ranging from apps you can download to your phone to the old traditional box of 1000 that I have tried to use. A word a day seems puny, as it would take three years to get through the stack, but it's better than nothing. Sometimes I take these flash cards on long car trips. Barron's AP Test study tools have boxes more along the lines of 500 words.

When I'm in a foreign country, I usually learn vocabulary intensively. As I encounter words or want to use a word, I write it down and then review my vocabulary for the day in the evenings. A journey of a 1000 words begins with the first flashcard. In theory, you could have a "Spanish day" here where you try to think of the Spanish words you would say.

12. There are tons of free apps you can download. Then there are the conversational CDs you can buy. If you are going to a country for a week's vacation, why not listen through one of the conversational series in preparation?

If you are more serious, there is Rosetta Stone and other tools like Babbel. I find Rosetta annoyingly repetitive. But it will reward the plodder.

13. At some point you will want to buy a serious grammar of the language. How do you make a past tense? How do you make a future tense? This is when you are getting serious about learning the language.

14. Start reading a book like the Bible in the language you are learning. Your familiarity with the content will help accelerate your understanding. I have found that I can more easily understand a sermon in a foreign language than I can the radio. This is because of the common church language I share with the preacher. You can probably find sermons online in your language of choice.

My friend Norm Wilson listens for hours on end to French and Spanish radio. With the internet, we can listen to all the real speakers of a target language that we want.

Of course you will eventually want to go there. Try not to speak English while you're there. Try to think in the new language. A moment of crowning significance will be when you dream in the new language!

Next Week: Cultures 5: Spanish and Spanish Cultures
This is the fourth post in a series called, "World Language and Culture." This is the fourth series in an overall project called Gen Eds in a Nutshell. The other series so far include 1) philosophy, 2) world history, and 3) a math and science series, which is a little over half-way.

Thus far in the Language and Culture series are:

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Paul Novel 4.5: Peter in Antioch

continued from last week
For Paul it was a great victory. The leaders of Jerusalem had accepted his mission to the Gentiles. They agreed that Titus would be saved even if he did not fully convert to Judaism. For Paul it was a green light to go forward full steam with the mission. He could tell anyone that opposed them that they had the approval of the pillars.

For James it was a great worry. It was one thing for the Gentiles not to keep the Law, but what if Jews began to think that they did not need to keep the Law? It was a slippery slope he greatly feared. In Paul he saw someone who had over-reacted to his past. To James, Paul was in danger of swinging from one extreme to the other, from caring too much about the Law to not caring hardly at all for it.

When Barnabas and Paul returned to Antioch with Titus, it was a time of great fellowship. Paul began to spend time in the marketplace of Antioch sharing the good news to any Gentile who would listen. Where Gentile conversions before had only happened by chance, Paul was now very intentional about sharing the good news with them, and the more Gentile believers there were, the more the gospel spread to non-Jews.

Within just a couple weeks of Paul's return to Antioch, Peter arrived from Jerusalem. At first Paul was suspicious. "He has come to spy on us," Paul remarked privately to Barnabas. And although Barnabas had announced to the churches of Antioch what James had decided in Jerusalem, there were still a number who balked at full Gentile fellowship with the Jewish believers.

There was one house church in particular that was very opposed to the increasing number of Gentiles in the community. They certainly would not admit any Gentiles into their house fellowship unless they were serious enough about God to convert fully and be circumcised.

"I bet they eat pork," they would gossip. "Even when they eat lamb or goat," they would say, "I bet they don't drain the blood first." "And you know how sexually immoral Gentiles are." "I wouldn't be surprised if Titus visits prostitutes like all the other Gentiles."

Paul was pleased to see that Peter didn't give much time to these voices. For the first week or so that Peter was in the city, he went with Paul and observed the love feast at the home of Titus and the church that met in his father's house. Paul was pleasantly surprised. He could see that these debates were really of little interest to Peter himself...

Friday, July 14, 2017

Adam and the Genome 6: Intelligent Design

In chapter 4, the last of Dennis Venema's chapters, Venema addresses intelligent design. I'm reading Venema and Scot McKnight's book, Adam and the Genome: Reading Scripture after Genetic Science.

Previous posts
Personal Preface
Forward and Introduction
1. Evolution as a Scientific Theory
2. Genomes as Language, Genomes as Books
3. Adam's Last Stand?

Chapter 4
1. Chapter 4 is titled, "What About Intelligent Design?" The first part of the chapter recounts the arguments for intelligent design advanced most powerfully by Michael Behe. Behe's fundamental idea is that of "irreducible complexity." There are aspects to biological systems that seem to involve a set of complex interrelationships, all of which have to be in place for it to work.

I think the best illustration of this idea that Venema gives is that of a stone arch. You can't build an arch by adding stones to the side one by one. They would fall over. The keystone has to be in place before they will stay in place. But you can't put the keystone in until the other stones are in place.

Bottom line is that an intelligent designer has to come alongside with scaffolding to build the thing. Human biochemistry, Behe argues, is exactly like that.

2. I lament Venema's tone a little in a few places. Most of the time he is completely under control. But clearly he has been engaged in an ongoing argument with Michael Behe and others like Stephen Meyer in the Intelligent Design community. What makes it worse is that Venema was in their camp not too long ago, so there may be a tendency to be impatient, as it were, with his former self. These are all familiar dynamics for me on other issues.

What I think I've found is that, if you have any hope of winning over those who are disposed against your position for ideological reasons, you almost have to behave perfectly for a long time while they process your arguments. You have to be a saint, and even then the odds are stacked against you. You can know you know more about the subject. You even can know that arguments against you don't hold any water and see obvious flaws in them. Your faith and character can be impugned,

But if you get cocky or lose your cool, the opposition simply says, "See, this person has a moral problem or see, this person is not behaving like a Christian, which reinforces that their ideas aren't Christian. What need of further evidence have we?"

So I probably would have written these chapters with a tiny bit more of an exploratory tone. Every once and a while, it feels like a tiny bit of sarcasm and condescension creeps in, which probably is not ultimately helpful.

3. So what I would say is that what he shows in the rest of the chapter is not a proof that Behe and Meyer are wrong, but some reason to believe that their arguments are not nearly as strong as they might appear if you do not have extended training in genetics, biochemistry, microbiology, and cell biology.

Behe argues that for new "irreducibly complex" biochemical structures to form, there would need to be new "binding sites" for them to bind to. This suggests to him that multiple mutations would need to happen all at the same time, which he considers so improbable as to be mathematically impossible.

So Venema shows evidence that these sorts of things likely happen all the time. In fruit flies, for example, it looks as if one gene has been randomly duplicated in one species (called a paralog), while not in others. All it took was then four mutations--not at once but one at a time--for this paralog to take on an essential function for the particular kind of fruit fly.

In short, an irreducibly complex, essential protein seems to be explicable as a result of six seemingly random events, each of which was unnecessary and initially non-essential to the fly: 1) the initial duplication of the gene, 2) the addition of mutation 1, 3) the addition of mutation 2, 4) the addition of mutation 3, 5) the addition of mutation 4, and 6) the ensuing dependence on the way these mutations came to function collectively.

4. A much rarer event that the current "look" of the vertebrate genome has is what is called a "whole genome duplication." Venema suggests that this sort of event has only happened twice in the history of evolution, one of which introduced the backbone. Unlike the paralog of the previous example, this sort of event would involve a move from two to four chromosomes, doubling the length of the genome, in effect.

Computers have compared non-vertebrate genomes with vertebrate ones and certainly this looks to be true. That is where the rub is. The genome looks the way we would expect it to look if it developed in this way. Indeed, it is the theory that has led the geneticists to look for these things that they have found.

This does not prove it happened that way. Perhaps we could say that either God created it to look this way or it happened this way.

5. An experiment with E. coli has provided another example of the kind of thing Behe considers irreducible complexity developing by chance. Researchers created a population of E. coli bacteria that largely did not have a binding site for a particular virus. Yet significant amounts of that virus were introduced to the environment.

Within four random mutations, a new binding site had developed to which the bacteria could bind.

6. Stephen Meyer has argued that what are called protein folds are extremely rare and irreducibly complex such that the mathematical probability of them developing by chance is an impossibility. He draws especially on a study by Douglas Axe to support this claim experimentally.

Venema finds numerous flaws in their line of argument, so much so that he believes Meyer must not fully understand the genetics (note 38). First, Venema has already suggested a number of mechanisms by which new functions come into being by chance--gene duplication, mutation, whole gene duplication. According to Venema, it is wrong in the first place to think that anything comes de novo in evolution. It is about descent with modification. Genes split, fuse, stick extra stuff in or accidentally shift the sequence.

One example is a bacteria found in Japan that "eats" nylon, which has only existed since the 1930s. This new bacteria popped into existence in a moment when a single mutation shifted all the codons after it by one place. By coincidence, this shift created a bacteria that could weakly draw carbon and nitrogen from nylon for its "food."

Since other bacteria cannot do this, we know this bacterium has only existed for some time since the 1930s. And this bacterium has a number of the protein folds that Meyer says cannot happen mathematically by chance. Certainly God could have decided to mutate this bacteria for the good of Japan right before they bombed Pearl Harbor. Or it could be random. :-)

7. Venema also points out a number of problems with extending Axe's study beyond its original limits. Axe started with a barely functional bacterium with a specific enzyme that performed a specific function. He comes up with a mathematical impossibility that this bacterium would produce that enzyme to do that function by chance.

But Venema argues it doesn't work this way. Most bacteria have multiple back-up systems that were intentionally kept out of this study so that the study would be able to show failure. And evolution is not about the likelihood of a specific chain of events but the likelihood that some random chain of events will unfold.

As Venema's chapters close, here is his sense of design: "Evolution may be God's chosen design to bring about biodiversity on earth" (89). "I view evolution as God's grand design for creating life" (90).

I look forward to what McKnight has to say about these things theologically, starting next week.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Jamestown 3

From last post
The Second Supply of 1608 mentions that there were "some others" on the trip. Could Thomas Shelburne have been one of these others? A Welsh boy of 13 as cabin boy to the Welsh Captain Peter Wynne? Wynne would die the next year.

The first women at Jamestown came on that Second Supply trip as well. The wife of Thomas Forrest and her maid, Anne Burras, made their way on that third installment. Anne would be the first of the English to marry in the New World--to John Laydon. And she would be the first to give birth in Jamestown, although the first English baby born was Virginia Dare in the Roanoke Colony. Born in 1587, her eventual fate is unknown.

Those first few years of the Jamestown settlement were brutal. Because of the poor conditions, someone died almost every day. The swampy water around the peninsula where they built their fort was arguably part of the problem. It was unsuitable for drinking. The immediately surrounding land was unsuitable for farming. Almost two thirds of the first group to arrive would be dead less than five months after their first landing.

They arrived in one of the worst droughts the region had seen in seven hundred years. They had run out of supplies and it was too late for planting. In part that was why the Native Americans had not used it. Facing drought themselves, the surrounding peoples had less to give than they might have in another decade.

Within days of settling on the peninsula, they would be attacked for a couple months by some of the surrounding tribes, although they were initially greeted by the Powhatan Nation. The interaction of the settlement with the Native Americans must have been puzzling. At times some were friendly enough and traded for food. At other times some attacked.

Most of those who came were not prone to work. They were gentlemen who had little practical knowledge and expected others to work for them. The first President of the settlement was Edward Wingfield, but when the First Supply returned, he was in the brig for hoarding food.  He was sent back to England with Captain Newport.

The second President was John Ratcliffe. He also was ousted, leaving Captain John Smith as the third president of the colony. John was a hard man for hard times. His motto was based on 2 Thessalonians 3:10: "He who does not work, shall not eat." Smith was the one in charge when Newport arrived with the Second Supply...

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Parsing Organizational Confusion

Hidden Cultures in the Academy
I recently worked through Erin Meyer's The Culture Map. While this book is about working across cultures primarily in the area of business, it occurred to me that I may have observed some of these cultural differences even within my own university.

Because we are talking about assumptions, it occurred to me that one reason why various professors and administrators may talk past each other, not to mention past potential students and stakeholders, may be a reflection of cultural differences. And as universities aim for greater diversity, these sorts of underlying tensions are only bound to increase.

Here is a list of contrasting priorities that may underlie some organizational conflicts:

1. Explicit versus implicit communicators
Some people are wired to spell out things clearly and in detail. I have experienced times when my repetition has crossed a line of annoyance. After reading this book I realized that some cultures consider it insulting when you spell things out too explicitly. "What, do you think I'm stupid?"

2. Why versus how people
America at large is wired to the "how." As I read this contrast, I remembered times when one set of faculty were thinking, "Just tell me what to do," while someone else felt it was essential to explain the why and give extensive background.

Similarly, there are many professors who think if you do not give extensive theoretical background, you are not yet ready to talk about relevance or concrete implications. Suffice it to say, as prevalent as this "culture" is for academicians, it rubs against the broader culture of the majority of students, who want to know what to do with what is being taught.

3. Egalitarian vs Hierarchical
I have observed within the academy varied assumptions about hierarchy. So I have known some leaders who are very hierarchical. For them, you communicate through the hierarchy. A professor should not contact the president and a division chair should not contact a Dean from another school. Same level communicates with same level.

But others have a much more "egalitarian" sense of communication. We used to call one of the presidents at Asbury Seminary the "open door" president. One president at IWU used to say, anyone can contact me but I will respond through the established channels. Suffice it to say, there is great potential for conflict if everyone is not on the same page about these things.

4. Who makes decisions?
Another cultural difference has to do with who makes decisions and how set they are once they are made. Some faculty bodies are very consensual. They want to reach a consensus before a decision is made. In other situations, a leader gets input from everyone but it is understood that the leader will make the final decision.

The German-Dutch-North European model is a consensus model. You do lots of ground work, the team (including the leader) reach a consensus, then you stick with the decision. I have observed faculty following this sort of a pattern in recent years. "Shared governance" seems to mean, we collectively make all decisions rather than, we have authority in some areas and the administration has authority in others.

The adaptability of decisions is another area where people differ. For some a decision made is done. Others view decisions more as adaptable if new information or factors arise.

Again, a lack of clarity on such matters is bound to lead to confusion and unnecessary conflict.

5. In-your-face conflict?
Many academic cultures are very conflictual. This gets at another cultural variation--how much negativity is considered appropriate and how damaging is such negativity. For some personalities, in your face conflict is perfectly normal. For others, it is deeply alienating.

6. Relationships vs. Tasks
Some people want to build relationships. It's important to eat together and like each other. How can you work together if you do not ever go to lunch with each other? Others are about getting the job done. You do your job and I'll do mine.

People may assume it's one or the other. Which is it for your team?

7. Keeping the Schedule
It is possible as universities get more diverse that we will see conflict over the question of schedule. How important are deadlines? How important is it to be on time?

At the top is a chart that may capture some of these often unexamined assumptions.

Gen Eds LC3: The Languages of the World

By Erkumbulant - Own work
CC BY-SA 4.0
This is the third post in a series called, "World Language and Culture." This is the fourth series in an overall project called Gen Eds in a Nutshell. The other series so far include 1) philosophy, 2) world history, and 3) a math and science series, which is a little over half-way.

Thus far in the Language and Culture series are:
1. Linguistics is the study of how language works. One fascinating area within linguistics is "comparative" linguistics, where we compare languages to each other. In fact, languages cluster together like various species belong together in families and have a common history.

There are three predominant types of language: analytic, inflected, and agglutinative. English is mostly an analytic language, which is a language where each word gives you a single bit of meaning and the letters of each word are not changed. [1] The order in which the words come is very important for the meaning. For example, "Ken hit the ball" means something quite different from "The ball hit Ken," even though the words are exactly the same.

Chinese would be an even better example of an analytic language, because English still has traces of changing the letters at the end of its words.

Most languages in the European stream are inflected (also called "fusional") languages. An inflected language changes the endings and forms of words to tell you the specifics of what the word is doing. [2] These endings usually reflect more than one implication for meaning. They also make it such that the order the words come in is less important.

Take the following sentence in Latin: amo manducare panem, "I love to eat bread." While the word amo means "I love," the ending o is what tells you it is I love. If it were amas, it would mean "You (singular) love. The ending tells you both that the subject of love is singular and "I." Similarly with the other words, a change of the ending changes the meaning.

Meanwhile, you could put the words in any other order and the sentence would still be "I love to eat bread." manducare amo panem, panem manducare amo, amo panem manducare, manducare panem amo, panem amo manducare--all of these orderings translate as "I love to eat bread," although the word that is emphasized in each case varies a little.

The final major type of language is agglutinative. [3] Like inflected languages, they vary the letters within a word to change the meaning. The difference is that each change only reflects on bit of meaning. Words in Turkish are thus like a string of beads, with each bead in the word telling you one bit of meaning.

2. By one reckoning, the ten most spoken languages in the world are:
  • Chinese
  • Spanish
  • English
  • Hindi
  • Arabic
  • Portuguese
  • Bengali
  • Russian
  • Japanese
  • Punjabi
See also this article. In terms of the number of countries where a particular language is spoken, the top five are: 1) English, 2) Arabic, 3) French, 4) Chinese, and 5) Spanish. It seems to me that if you could learn seven languages and wanted to be able to cover as much of the globe as possible, these are the ones to learn:
  • English is spoken in 101 countries. It is the third most native language in the world. It will open the door to you in North America, India and Pakistan, and in much of Africa. It seems to me that, from a strategic perspective, it is the most valuable language to know currently in the world.
  • I would secondly suggest Chinese. It is the language spoken by the greatest number of people in the world and knowing Chinese opens the most doors in east Asia.
  • Thirdly I suggest Spanish, the second most spoken language in the world. Spanish directly opens up almost all of South America and Latin America. Since I am not putting Portuguese on my list of top six, Spanish is close enough at least to help in Brazil and Portugal.
  • Next I suggest Arabic. It is the fifth most spoken language, spoken in 60 countries, and will open up the Middle East and to some extent countries like Turkey and parts of north Africa.
  • I feel like Russian needs to be on this list because of the sheer geographical area that it covers, even though it is eighth on the most spoken list. 
  • Strategically speaking, French would be on this list. It's not because most people speak French as a primary language. It is because French opens up to you the rest of Africa.
  • Hindi really deserves to be much higher up on this list because it is not less than the fourth most spoken language, perhaps even the second. It is related to other languages that are also in the top 10: Bengali and Punjabi. The only reason I have put it seventh is because English is the official language of India and Pakistan, so it is less important if the goal is to be able to cover the most territory with the fewest languages.
There are over 7100 languages in the world currently, half of which will die out by the end of the century. Globalization has taken once isolated peoples and connected people in ways that make smaller languages less spoken.

Indo-European Languages
3. If you look at the chart at the top, over 46% of the world's speakers speak an "Indo-European" language. This is a family of languages that originated around 3400BC in the area around present day Ukraine. Some of this traveling band headed southeast to the region of India. Some went southwest into Greece and Italy. Others stayed put or headed east into Russia. Still others went west into Germany.

One of the earliest known branches of this happy family were the Hittites, who lived in Anatolia (Turkey) around 1800BC. They are mentioned in Genesis 23.

In India, Sanskrit is the oldest known representative of this group of language. Hindi, Urdu, Bengali, and Punjabi, some of the most spoken languages in the world by population, are direct descendants of Sanskrit.

Persian languages are also descendant from this western branch of Indo-European. Today, descendants of this branch include Farsi, Kurdish, and Pashto.

A more recent descendant of this western branch are the Slavic languages. These include Russian, Polish, Czech, Bulgarian, Macedonian, and Serbo-Croatian.

4. The oldest branch in the west was ancient Greek, which of course is the ancestor of modern Greek. In Italy, Latin is another ancient descendant. From Latin come the five Romance languages: Italian, Spanish, French, Portuguese, and Romanian.

The Celtic tribes made their way from Galatia in Turkey before the New Testament to Gaul of Roman fame, to the British Isles. Scottish, Welsh, and Irish are all descendants.

Lastly, there are the Germanic languages that occupied central and northern Europe. The northern Teutonic languages spread to what is now Danish, Swedish, and Norwegian lands. The western Germanic tribes became German, Dutch, Frisian, and of course English.

When the French Normans took over England in 1066, The Germanic Anglo-Saxon base of the language was invaded by French.

Semitic Languages
5. Because of my knowledge base, I'll turn to the Semitic languages next. These are primarily Arabic, Hebrew, Amharic, and Aramaic.

The oldest versions of these language was the East Semitic Akkadian, which was the business language of the oldest Babylonian and Assyrian empires. At the time of Israel's captivity, however, Aramaic had become the "lingua franca."

In the West, there was Hebrew, Canaanite, and Phoenician. An older northwest Semitic language was Ugaritic. In the South, Ethiopic would eventually become Amharic and Tigrinya today.

Arabic, another southern Semitic language, is by far the most spoken Semitic language today. Aramaic is barely spoken and dying, but is still known in Iraq and Syria. Hebrew was reinvented as a language when Israel was refounded in 1948.

Sino-Tibetan Languages
6. After the Indo-European languages, more people speak a language from this group than any other. However, Chinese is the primary example. Other languages include Tibetan and Burmese.

Altaic and Isolated Languages
7. Perhaps most of the languages of the world are spoken by a small group of people without clear relationship to others. Japanese, for example, seems to stand mostly on its own, although Chinese has influenced it. Some suggest it may be part of an "Altaic" family, but this is far from agreed.

On the other hand, Turkish, Finnish, Hungarian, and Mongolian are thought to relate to this family of agglutinative languages. This group of languages lies across a horizontal line in the middle of Asia, with one branch stretching up eastern Europe.

Next Week: Cultures 4: How to Learn a Language

[1] English does change some letters. "Book" is different from "books." "Walk" is a little different from "walks." In that sense it is really a mixed type rather than a purely analytic type.

[2] In general, languages that have more than one bit of meaning per word are called "synthetic" as opposed to "analytic."

[3] Another type is "polysynthetic," where words can be quite long because they incorporate many meaning bits, including diverse parts of speech.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

20. Hitler's Systematic Coup

In the space of seventy days, Hitler deconstructs Germany before the helpless eyes of the insightful. "Coup D'Etat by Installments" is the title of chapter 23 of Konrad Heiden's 1944 book, Der Fuehrer.  See the bottom for previous posts.

1. On the afternoon of March 23, 1933, Hitler is elected dictator by the Reichstag, "created by democracy and appointed by parliament" (579). In theory, he was bound by the cabinet, but the changes he would create in Germany would make the cabinet his slaves as well. Even Hindenburg now could scarcely lift a finger against him.

Immediately, Hitler had one of Hindenburg's favorites arrested, the Commissioner for Re-Employment. When everyone is guilty, all those in power need do is stop overlooking the reasons for your arrest. The man arrested, one Gereke, was perhaps a proxy for Hindenburg himself, a sign that no one was untouchable from the one who now had the power of arrest.

Sounds like how a certain large Slavic speaking country in the world is currently alleged to operate under its leader. The question in such times is not who is guilty but who has the power to use the law selectively to indict those who have fallen out of favor.

A striking point Heiden makes is that on January 30 the protections of the German constitution and state seemed built for eternity. A paper with protections is only as powerful as the power to enforce it.

2. There was a strong minority throughout Germany with the will to seize the reins of society and to do so with great violence, the SA and SS. Thankfully, I do not perceive this to be the situation at present in America. I did worry that if Hillary Clinton was elected, there would be a sizeable group of alt-right who would resort to widespread violence. I think it is absurd to think that the response would not have been more violent with the opposite outcome to the election. After all, the side currently protesting is the one that tends to be in favor of gun laws.

There will always be a handful that resort to violence. But it is clear which side is more in favor of war and violence in general. Nevertheless, it is the stuff of the demagogue to make the exception the rule and the rule the exception.

By contrast, the SA was organized and ready throughout Germany and immediately commenced an intimidating violence throughout. A large mass of unemployed, university trained individuals--"those hopeless masses of the so-called middle class" marched into the universities and took the posts of Jewish professors and lawyers.

Hitler said less than twenty people had died in this "national awakening." The foreign press knew better. From the German newspapers alone you could count 160 opponents to National Socialism who had died, many "shot while trying to escape," "jumping out the window," and "hanging themselves in prison." Many murders simply weren't reported.

3. At first it was mostly political enemies. Hitler couldn't control the fury he had unleashed. He had unleashed "a human type that demanded economic security and had learned that this was his right at the expense of an inferior and hostile race" (581).

Hitler would have been far more powerful if he had not alienated the Jews of Germany. At first he tried to boycott all Jewish business. This was a mistake, although it did show Hitler that the supposed "Jewish world power" wasn't very powerful. Hitler probably didn't see the contradiction. To him there was a Jewish world conspiracy that he was responding to. But the Jews of the world were hardly powerful enough to stop him in Germany.

But Hitler realized the entire boycott would not work. There was too much opposition to it at home and abroad. So he adjusted his tactic to something they would accept. He would abolish Jews from public life in 1933. First he abolished the Jew from government administration and practice of law. Jews were not allowed to teach at the universities or be lawyers. They could not be doctors or work for insurance companies. Only 1.5% of students at universe could be Jews.

Jews couldn't be journalists, writers, actors, painters. Overnight they were excluded from all spheres of intellectual and artistic life on the pretext that they were the fleas of humanity, defiling the Aryan race. Even one Jewish grandparent made you Jewish.

4. At the same time, National Socialism effectively took over the world of skilled workers. May 1 becomes the day of the worker, a holiday for the millennium. There were already "workshop councils" that had been set up twenty years earlier with a goal of leading the mass of workers. Hitler's people systematically take over the reins of these with the threatening SA in the background.

The day after the first May 1 celebration, with Hitler finally broadcast to the whole nation, they took over the trade unions. He had no firm promises. He changed his message so often and lied so consistently that it didn't matter that there was no clear plan. What he did was create a common, forced identity. He did have at least one project in mind, the construction of giant motor highways through the length of Germany, the Autobahn.

"In the long run, only those can be coerced who really want to be, and this was the secret of Hitler's whole policy of successful coercion" (599), of "coordination." The worker needed a job, so when it came to a choice between their "employers" and Hitler, they chose the winning team. There was a "cynical lack of resistance--'they have won out, that makes them right'" (598).

5. Finally the official "metal helmet," the Stahlheim that thought itself the future army of Germany, was taken under Hitler's wing. Opposition was arrested. And a key figure saw the writing on the wall and switched to Hitler's side.

National Socialists were put in as leaders of every "gau" or regional center of power. The cabinet continued to exist, but now had no vote. Hitler brought his decisions to them.

Take Aways:
  • The law is only as effective as those who have the power to implement or avert it.
  • A Constitution is only as protective as those with power choose to enforce it.
  • A democracy can unravel with immense rapidity under certain conditions.
  • The majority of people will simply go along with whoever is in power, no matter how devilish, even though they would much rather it be someone else.
  • The pride of being in the winning group--or just the group that isn't being oppressed--often leads people to overlook other groups who are being murdered.
  • It is the nature of a demagogue to make the more peaceful appear the more violent and to make the violent look as though they are merely defending the peace.
Previously on Hitler:

Paul Novel 4.4: Interviewing Titus

continued from last week
"You say that several of these Gentiles who believed had already been attending the synagogue?" James finally asked.

"Yes," Barnabas said. "Many had already believed in the God of Israel, but had not become circumcised and fully converted."

"And even after they believed, they did not want to convert?" John added.

There was a pause.

"No," Paul finally added. "They have converted in their heart, I believe, even though they have not converted outwardly."

"Take the young man Titus who is just outside the door," Paul continued. "He is not circumcised. But his faith is far stronger than all the Jews who have not believed in Jerusalem. I venture to say it is stronger than half of the church of God in Judea."

Barnabas cast a quick glance at Paul as if to say, "Don't get too adversarial."

"I encourage you to ask him questions about his faith," Paul continued.

"I would like to meet the young man," Peter finally said. "You know the strange experience I had at Caesarea with some Gentile soldiers. They seemed full of the Holy Spirit without fully converting to Judaism."

Barnabas then interjected. "He has been observing kosher law in his diet with us for some time and has never had sexual relations." This seemed to allay the troubled look on James' face.

"Very well," James said. "Bring in the boy."

After a brief greeting, mostly James and John began to ask him questions. "So you have come to believe in the one true God, the God of Israel?"

"Yes," Titus said in Greek. James, Peter, and John spoke enough Greek to conduct business in Galilee, but would need a little help if Titus' Greek got too advanced. "In fact, there has never been a point in my life when I did not attend the synagogue of Antioch with my family."

"And you have come to believe that Jesus is our king, our Lord, the Anointed One of Israel?" James continued.

"Yes. I believe he will come again soon to rule the whole world as my king. Every knee will bow before him and every tongue confess that he is the Lord. God has raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavens."

James was impressed. Paul was right. Oh that the Jews of Jerusalem would come to such faith!

"And you do not feel the need to become circumcised and join the people of Israel?" John finally added.

"Were there not strangers in the land of Israel who lived among them?" Titus responded. He had been carefully coached by Barnabas. "God asked Israel to treat them with kindness even though they were never circumcised?"

"I would say that his heart is circumcised," Paul interjected, "even though his flesh is not. It is like the opposite of what the prophet Jeremiah said to Israel of old. Their hearts were uncircumcised even though their flesh was circumcised. The hearts of Titus and others like him are circumcised, even though their flesh is uncircumcised."

You could see that this idea troubled James. He could see a slippery slope he had feared with his brother Jesus as well, who had focused on the lost sheep of Israel in Galilee. There were enough Jews who did not take the covenant seriously enough, James thought. Surely if these Gentiles had as much faith as Paul said they did, they would be willing to go the whole way and fully convert.

But Titus' faith was undeniable. In the end, James did not believe God would destroy Gentiles like Titus who gave their allegiance to Jesus. They would escape the judgment. They would be saved. And that was a good thing, even if it was not as much as James thought was ideal.

In the end, James, Peter, and John agreed that Gentiles could be saved without full conversion. They gave their blessing to their mission. "Only be sure that you and Saul are faithful yourselves to keep the Law."

"And in your mission, never forget the many poor among the people of God," John added. "God has blessed many of these Gentiles with much, such as the Roman governor you mentioned. Part of coming to faith is a willingness to give back to God. There are many poor here in Jerusalem who have believed, as you know from a few years back. A test of the Gentiles' faith may be their willingness to give from their abundance to those who have need."

Of course not all Gentile converts were wealthy, but John and others had a certain stereotype of them. Indeed, he even thought of Paul and Barnabas as wealthy Greek-speaking Jews.

"This is an important truth to me as well," Paul quickly jumped in. "Perhaps in our mission we will see the fulfillment of the prophet Isaiah when he said that the wealth of the nations would flow to Jerusalem."

This idea seemed to resonate with the others as well.

Sunday, July 09, 2017

Seminary CM7: A Culture Map

This is the seventh post on the Contexts of Ministry in my Seminary in a Nutshell series. See the bottom for the previous posts in this unit, "The Person and Contexts of a Minister." I have completed one other unit in this series, The Pastor as Leader.
1. In this post I largely want to summarize the ideas of a book by Erin Meyer called The Culture Map. Although the book was written for businesses, it gives some helpful models by which to categorize and understand various cultures around the world.

There have been some in the past who have reacted negatively to terms like "cultural relativity" and "contextualization." Some of this reaction is based in an "all or nothing" mentality. The fact that some aspects of Christian faith are contextual does not mean that all are. That is to say, relativity on some things does not mean relativity on all things!

Romans 14 makes the point. In this chapter, Paul is basically saying that different Christians have different convictions on some issues, and that is okay as long as they hold their convictions with faith. In other words, Paul is saying that--on some issues--right and wrong is relative to the convictions of the individual. Obviously this is not true of murder or adultery!

The same goes with culture. There is no culture were is it okay to murder innocent people from a Christian perspective. The kingdom core of an earlier post applies to all cultures.

But there are also aspects of morality that play out differently in different places. In fact, all morality has to play out in a cultural context because, as we have seen, all humans live in culture. So the gospel always involved contextualization. It is sheer ignorance that some American Christians of the past have unthinkingly assumed that their Christianity was not incarnated in culture just like everyone else's.

"When you are in and of a culture--as fish are in and of water--it is often difficult or even impossible to see that culture" (25).

On the 8 scales that follow, there is no right or wrong. There is just different from my culture.

2. Communicating--High vs. Low Context
The United States is the most "low context" culture on the planet currently. This means that we assume those with whom we are speaking have no context against which to understand our meaning. "Say what you mean and mean what you say." "Tell us what you're going to say. Say it. Then tell us what you've said."

Accordingly, all other cultures in the world are more indirect in their information. You have to read between the lines. In Japanese culture, this is called "reading the air." There will be an assumption that you mean more than you say and a Japanese person will expect you to be able to read between the lines, so to speak. In China there is intentional beating around the bush. In French there is the "underneath understanding."

I find the description "explicit versus implicit communication" a clearer way of expressing this dynamic of different cultures.

3. Evaluating--Direct Negative Feedback vs. Indirect Negative Feedback
Interestingly, how explicit a culture is about information does not correlate exactly with how you give negative feedback. French culture, for example, is not very explicit in general when communicating, except when it comes to negative feedback (see also #8 below). The French, German, Dutch, Russian, etc. are very direct when it comes to sharing negative feedback.

However, United States culture is much more hesitant to give negative feedback bluntly. When it reaches that point, a person tends to be in serious trouble. A French person may not realize how serious the situation is, because negative feedback is readily given in French culture, while positive feedback is rarely given. By contrast, it is customary to say something nice in the United States before giving negative feedback.

4. Persuading--Principles First vs. Applications First
Those from the US tend to be practical and pragmatic--we are perhaps the most pragmatic culture in the whole world. We are most convinced by "how" arguments and inductive arguments. By contrast, many parts of the world (France, Russia, Germany) are "why" cultures in which you give the principles and the background first, then deduce from there.

This section was interesting for me in terms of the academy. For example, Wesley Seminary was founded to be an inductive, problem based learning, pragmatic style learning culture. But professors are almost always trained to be principles first, "why" thinkers. Let's just say the original vision is not likely to last.

If you want to convince someone from Germany, you have to give them the philosophical basis before going for the throat. But in US business, we want you to "cut to the chase." We want to know the bottom line. I've wondered if this gives us an advantage in war.

Meyer puts Asian cultures in a different category she calls "holistic" thinking. This approach sees the interconnectedness of everything. This approach needs the big picture before understanding the specifics.

I experienced some inner conflict in some of these sections because of intra-American debates that reflect these cultural differences. Analytical versus phenomenological approaches to philosophy map to the difference between British and continental cultures. In American theology, there are the presuppositionalists of the Reformed tradition and the Charles Finney types that tend to be more "American" in their approach to evangelism.

I take sides on these issues, but this book is suggesting we are in part talking cultural conflict here.

5. Leading--Egalitarian vs. Hierarchical
Some cultures clearly pay more attention to hierarchy than others. For example, can you skip lines on the organizational chart? Can a janitor have lunch with the president? Do you contact the person on the same level as you?

Again, I've seen some of these issues in the university where I work. Some bosses I've had have been very open to skipping people on the org chart. If you need information from a certain person, you contact that person directly.

Others have been insistent on following the chain of command. If you need information from x but you are on the same level as y, you contact y and he or she contacts x for you. It would seem that there is no absolute answer here but it is a matter of culture and personality.

It does seem to me--a matter of some inner conflict as I worked through this book--that some models accomplish certain goals better (and I realize my American task orientation is at work here). I thus had values in conflict as I read. On the one hand, I want to affirm that there generally aren't right and wrong cultures. Yet it seems that certain cultural approaches are more effective in certain areas than others.

6. Deciding--Consensual vs. Top-Down
Interestingly, even though some cultures like the Dutch or Scandinavian are very egalitarian--the boss is one of the gang, referred to by first name, rides a bike to work like everyone else--how decisions are made can be a quite different thing. While US businesses tend to be more egalitarian, for example, bosses tend to make decisions.

In Germany, by contrast, the team makes the decisions and consensus is important. In the US, the boss may make an unpopular decision, but everyone knows she is the boss. That's what bosses do. This is experienced as very heavy-handed in other cultures. By contrast, while Japanese culture is very hierarchical, decisions tend to be made by consensus.

So hierarchy and decision-making do not always map directly to each other, although they often do.

[More inner conflict. I prefer to be a consensus leader, but recognize that sometimes a leader has to make a decision or at least should. Otherwise you can languish on forever in indecision, which can do more damage than simply making a decision and moving on.]

Another element is how easily a decision is changed once it is made. This relates to the principles-first versus applications-first distinction. In Germany, once a decision is made it is made. But in the US, if new information surfaces, the decision can be altered. Meyer distinguishes between "big D" decision making and "small d" decision making.

Again, this gets at some of my pet-peeves even in US organizational culture. The principles-first approach seems to me philosophically inferior and, in our current climate, just as likely to run your organization out of business in changing times. It certainly seems likely to lose you a war.

7. Trusting--Task-Based vs. Relationship Based
This is the distinction between "peach" and "coconut" cultures. Americans tend to share a lot of information with complete strangers until you get to a certain point, the peach seed. We tend to be task-based in our business relationships. This relates to the principles-first versus applications-first issue.

Other cultures are more like a coconut. A gruff exterior means nothing. It takes relational work to get beneath the shell. Once you are there, however, there is deep relationship. If you want to make a business deal, you had better build a relationship. Spending time together eating is not a waste of time but an essential part of the process in these cultures.

8. Disagreeing--Confrontational vs. Avoids Confrontation
If I were writing this book, I might have put this section right after the one on negative feedback. Some cultures are very aggressive when it comes to confrontation, but it does not mean what it means in US culture. Two French individuals may be very negative and confrontational toward each other and yet hold hands walking out of the room.

For the US, however, this level of confrontation tends to break relationships. In Asian culture, there is also a strong need to "save face" in public. In the US, we confront individuals in private.

9. Scheduling--Linear-Time vs. Flexible Time
Many of us will know the stereotypes of hot versus cold cultures and how time in some cultures is much less of a thing than it is in others. In US military and business culture, "on time is late." But when my sister was a missionary to the Philippines, we used to talk about "by and by" time. "We'll get there when we get there."

There's a tendency to put a moral judgment on such things. "Being on time is a sign of virtue." But this is not true in many cultures.

10. A very interesting book. Very eye-opening, yet also difficult. It seems to me that there are some betters and worse to achieving certain goals in certain contexts (that is my American task-orientation speaking) yet I also want to affirm that these are not moral evaluations. Different cultures are just different.

What I had attributed to personality differences in an organization now face the complication of possibly being cultural level differences.

Next Sunday: Culture 8: Two-Thirds World Christianity

The Calling of a Minister
The Person of a Pastor
Contexts of Ministry