Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Sunday, January 29, 2012
If we all speak different languages, is it possible that we all perceive the world differently?
How are language and culture intertwined?
Can you speak intelligently about a culture, if you only know the language?
What are risks of translation?
Is language a help or a hindrance?
Don't feel like you have to answer all these questions! This is just food for thought. Please remember to comment (don't start new posts).
~Kaleb, Azim, Poonam [moderating team]
Thursday, January 26, 2012
No one is in trouble, but the conversation is MUCH easier for everyone to follow if the moderators begin the thread with their initial post and then everyone else leaves their comments in the "comments" section of that initial post. Can you guys do that from now on?
I’d like to start off by saying that I agree with Long’s initial definition of culture: “our cultivation of language, actions, habits, gestures, thoughts, etc. for specific purposes is what we mean when we use the term culture” (pg. 3). But where him and I differ is the way he analyzes and applies this definition. It seemed to me that Long had a difficult time disassociating religion with culture. While I do acknowledge that he makes differentiations between the two (and acknowledging the obvious fact that the title is Theology and Culture), I believe they are inadequate. Any culture is of course influenced by religion, but there are many other factors included in this broad concept. For example the very divisive concept of abortion in our culture is not just affected by religious concepts but also by scientific and philosophical concepts as well.
I found his commentary about the hammer, and the lack of knowledge someone would have with just a definition fairly interesting. I think that he is correct that language is influenced by culture (or perhaps vise versa). But more specifically, I think that language is affected by the context in which the language is residing. For example, he refers in the reading to a hammer and the lack of information the definition of the hammer would give you when you are trying to roof a house. I use the word context instead of culture because a person in the United States that is trying to roof a house with a hammer can have the same concept of a hammer as someone across the globe that is roofing a house. I don’t believe that the knowledge they share of the hammer is commonalities in the culture (granted the fact that both of the individuals are using a hammer for roofing might be considered by some to be similarities in culture), but commonalities of the context in which the hammer is being used.
Because of this, I reject the notion that a word can have two meanings, or different definitions. If it does, it means you have two distinct words. Therefore, I would assert that culture is indeed difficult to define, but that does not mean that, used by a theologian or a botanist, it is granted a different meaning.
I agree that culture and religion are infused together - abandoning definitions and battles over semantics, we can see practical examples as to why this is true. For instance, Hinduism, Islam, and Buddhism in their present forms are incompatible with American culture. They would not, and could not, flourish here.
Wednesday, January 25, 2012
Our ideas essentially matched when he illustrated the different prejudices that can prevent an accurate definition of the word culture. If a biologist approaches it, the term culture will be seen and defined in a much different light than if a theologist analyzes it. This therefore makes it impossible to form a single meaning of the word. This also coincided with what we discussed in class, as everyone seemed to struggle to find a single definition for science fiction. Now, it is clear that there can and should be multiple definitions for it.
What struck me toward the end of the text was Long’s argument regarding the different methods of cultural observation. On the one hand, according to Long, one cannot attain a full understanding of a culture by being the unbiased, outside observer. On the other hand, fully immersing oneself in a culture could ultimately prevent the observer from remaining unbiased. These arguments made sense to me, but what confused me was that he held the two theories as mutually exclusive. Wouldn’t it be possible to combine these approaches to gain a well rounded understanding of a culture?
Another problem I had with his argument was how he considered religion and culture inseparable. The evidence he uses is how religious figures made contact with God, requiring language and other factors inherent in culture. However, isn’t Long in some way limiting the definition of culture by only considering a few specific factors of culture?
Ultimately, I agree with most of Lang’s points, especially the argument that it is impossible to have a single definition for culture and that comparing different cultures is far more difficult than it may seem on paper.
Because I am a biology major I like to hold onto concrete ideas and say "this is the answer", however recently I have found that with many words that we define in class that is not the case. I do agree with Long in that culture can be a metaphor. there is no one object that a person can look at and concretely say "That is culture." It is the ideas, believes, living style, language, food, and practices of populations of humans around the world, which is culture. It can be small or large scale, the difference between those who live in America and those who live in Europe, the difference between those who live in Thurston Hall and those who live in Potomac.
The only problem I have with Long's definition is that he says that it has to relate to God. But why do all cultures have to relate to the one God that Christians believe in. Is Muslim not a culture with their own God Allah, in which to relate their beliefs to? I do not think that all culture should be related to the one Christian God. Everyone has their own beliefs and sometimes this defines a culture. If you would like to respond to my post please comment on it, if you would like to post a new idea, to take the topic in a new direction or if you have a totally different meaning of culture, please make a new post. Because I am moderating this week I feel this system would be most efficient.
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
1) A pictorial calendar of religious holidays. This is cool because it gives you a sense of what religions, lots of different religions, look like and the holidays that they celebrate. There are big ones here (like Easter or Yom Kippur), but there are also smaller holidays that you might not know about unless you practice a particular religion or have studied it extensively. Thus, this is a good introduction. It's also a moment to think about the term "text" more broadly as Robert Adams hints at in your homework reading when he wants to expand the term "science fiction" to include the "texts" of Star Wars, a film, as well as various other television shows, musical compositions, graphic novels, and plastic art pieces. This broader definition of "text"is one that we will be using in class frequently, so here is another chance to examine multiple "texts," in the form of photographs, from multiple religions.
2) Peter Ens has a brief article once again revisiting the evolution-Evangelical conflict. We touched on this briefly when we watched The Big Bang Theory and then again when we discussed the Conflict paradigm in the relationship between religion and science. We will inevitably return to this conflict when we talk more directly about evolution. For now, here is another moment for you to enter the conversation.
Feel free to post any thoughts you might have about either.
Thursday, January 19, 2012
"The problem seems to be related to the age-old God-of-the-Gaps agenda, that the more we understand of the world the less room there is for a creator God. This is bad theology, as it links belief to the development of science."
What do you think about this?
Monday, January 9, 2012
Thursday, January 5, 2012
I. Loved. These. Books.
But why am I mentioning them here? There is nothing about religion or even really about science within them, right? Well, not exactly. But there will be more on that later in the course, as The Hunger Games will make quite the showing later on. For now, here's a trailer for the upcoming movie...and I can't wait to talk more about this story with you. But for now, let's get that conversation started. Have any of you read the books? If so, what did you think of them and why?