Dog or monkey?

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The place where we stayed this week had both a lot of international guests and a couple of spidermonkeys. So I managed to overhear these two conversations, which managed to neatly sum up a lot of cultural differences in parenting:

Western baby: “Dog!”
Western parent: “That’s not a dog, it’s a monkey!”

Japanese baby: “Dog!”
Japanese parent: “Yes, it is a little bit like a dog, isn’t it?” (「そうだ、ちょっと犬見たいよね。」)

Let It Go As I Am: Disney, Translation and Contextualization

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If you have children, or have been near any children during the past year, you have probably heard the theme from Frozen, “Let It Go”. We hear it nearly incessantly, both in English and Japanese, and even our one-year-old storms around the house singing “a-a-no! a-a-no!” Read more about Let It Go As I Am: Disney, Translation and Contextualization

Wise words

Last night I chaired a meeting for the local community on the subject of child poverty; a nearby university and various community leaders have been working together to provide services for children in need, and I invited the founder of Child Poverty Action Osaka to come and provide a bit of inspiration. And I was certainly inspired. Two quotes, very loosely translated, which have application to mission as well: Read more about Wise words

Question people and answer people

There are, famously, two types of people in the world: those who can extrapolate from incomplete information. I think another division between people is between those who are (predominantly) question people, and those who are answer people. I don’t mean that some people ask more questions and some people answer them; what I mean is that some people are more naturally skilled at defining the boundaries of a problem than they are at finding a solution to that problem. Read more about Question people and answer people

Know Your Exegetical Fallacies

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After listening to a particularly, uh, interesting sermon a while back I thought it might be a fun idea to put together a site like, but specialised for preachers. Of course, most of those logical fallacies apply more generally, but handling the Bible comes with its own special set of fallacies. Here are twenty to be getting on with, but I am sure you can think of more.

The ethnocentric fallacy

Oh, I hear this all the time: my culture does this, and therefore it must be what the Bible means. Read more about Know Your Exegetical Fallacies

Six Things We Learnt About How Japanese People Run Events

I’m going to do something dangerous and novel on this blog and actually try and give useful practical information; at least useful and practical if you’re a missionary in Japan. A lot of missionaries run events in their churches for various reasons, but not many missionaries go to events outside of the church, run by ordinary Japanese people. Read more about Six Things We Learnt About How Japanese People Run Events

How to cheat at church planting

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Recently I’ve been thinking of what it means to be successful as a church planter. To be honest I still don’t know what it should mean yet, or even if the concept of success is something that you can meaningfully apply to church planting, but within missionary culture I’ve seen two main criteria for success in operation: church growth, and continuity. These criteria are normally unspoken, but they’re certainly assumed. Read more about How to cheat at church planting