Reader’s Underwear

As a reader you are like a person on vacation. You can visit anywhere in the world but no matter where you go you will, by the nature of being you, bring your luggage. You’re luggage contains many things you find important (like your best shoes) but also things that you automatically assumed must come on your trip (like underwear). Even though you know most people won’t see some of those later things (the underwear) you assumed that they would go on the trip with you. On vacation you also properly assume other people have that same information. No one in the civilized world goes around thinking "Maybe that person isn’t wearing underwear". Or at least we hope.

Unfortunately when on the vacation of reading your luggage holds you back. You spend hours at the airport waiting for your luggage. You need a vehicle that can accommodate your luggage. You hope the maids don’t go through your luggage.

Now with books (and the Bible), you should never think you can come to any reading without luggage: deal with it, it’s there. When you realize that you can then be careful about assuming the author wears underwear just because you do.

Let me drop the metaphor for a second before switching it completely. Just because you’re familiar with the words on the page doesn’t mean that they’re words you understand. By assuming you know what the author is talking about you have completely failed  to understand what the author is saying. Your assumptions hold you back

When I say "a dog" you think that I have evoked a specific image of a certain type of animal. I agree with you that I have evoked the image of an animal but you might be assuming that we’re thinking about the same animal. The animal I’m thinking about walks on two feet cheats on his girlfriend(s) and wears a diamond ring. What kind of dog are you thinking of now?

It was only after I used my key word in a specific way and within the context did you understand what I was talking about. This sounds like I’m repeating the point from my last post but bear with me as I get philosophical.

When I say something was an accident in everyday talk you would rightly assume that whatever it was I was talking about was a mistake or an unseen event that has occurred—maybe one involving vehicles But if you stepped into a philosophy class and heard everyone speaking about accidents you would wrongly assume that they were talking about mistakes or unforeseen events. After a few days of really listening you would find that the term accident is being used in a technical sense and deals with attributes which might belong to a substance without affecting the essence of the substance.

Likewise in the Bible: although the words written are there for you to understand they are sometimes functioning technically but your context and assumptions (your luggage) will force you to ignore how the author is using the specific terms. If you go into a passage and automatically assume you understand  what its saying because you know the words you have done the classic mistake of assuming everyone around you wears underwear even though you’re now sitting and reading two thousand years before Fruit of the Loom and Victoria’s Secret.

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2 replies on “Reader’s Underwear”

I thought I would post this comment on your personal blog. :)

I like the articles you’re writing these days, but don’t think you can draw me in to a dispensational belief. :)

Yeah I don’t really expect anyone will be convinced into it. If anything I want to write the stuff so that people stop saying stuff that makes heretical (at worse) or unorthdox (at best). Even then I doubt it’ll stop anyone but such is life, ay?

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