The other day I wrote a long blog post in Japanese. I haven’t posted it yet; I have a feeling it might offend people. That isn’t why I haven’t posted it, though—I want to make sure I offend the right people to just the right degree: not too much, of course, but not too little either. Here I want to work through the philosophical underpinnings of that post—why I wrote it and what I’m thinking about it, and why I think it’s worth offending people over. Read more about Counter-contextualization: Keeping our saltiness
I get really incensed when people call Japan a “difficult” or a “slow” country. It really isn’t the Japanese people’s fault that they aren’t buying what we’re selling. It may be that we’re not selling it all that well. Gilbert Arland’s quote seems relevant:
When an archer misses the mark, he turns and looks for the fault within himself. Failure to hit the bull’s eye is never the fault of the target. To improve your aim, improve yourself.
But at the same time I will admit the equally prevalent saying that Japan is a “missionary’s graveyard”. Things just don’t happen very quickly here, or at least as quickly as we would like. It wears us down. Perhaps that just speaks about our impatience. I don’t know. What is interesting to me, though, is how different missionaries deal with this. Read more about Working the Graveyard Shift
When I went to Bible college, we were taught about a variety of theological viewpoints, with the implication that you would pick the one you liked the look of, since, you know, we’re all Protestants and so there’s nobody to tell you which one you should choose. (Although we will happily treat you like a heretic if you choose the wrong one.) And in terms of learning to work in multi-denominational teams and whatnot, that was all very useful to help us understand each other and, hopefully, not treat each other too much like heretics.
But we were also taught about contextualization and about presenting the Gospel in ways that make the most sense to the recipient, and so now when I come back to this idea of choosing which theological camp you belong to, I can’t help thinking, “Do I only get to choose one?” Read more about Can we be theological chameleons?
A funny thing happened last week. One of the communities that we’re part of here, a deaf signing group, went on an outing. The plan was to visit a deaf school, walk from there down the hill through a temple to view the autumn leaves, and catch the bus home from the bottom of the hill. Because of having Caitlin with us, we came by car, which messed everyone up. (Rule one of Japan: Don’t be different.) So the group leader, being a good Japanese leader and so knowing that the most important thing is to keep the group together, did something very clever. Read more about A sign that divides
A while back I wrote a rant in response to Paul Eshleman’s truly extraordinary paper for the Lausanne one-way “conversation”, which I softened up for academic publication and then promptly did nothing with. Now the time seems right to dust it off, convert it back into rant format and post it here. Read more about Rethinking people groups
So that title sounds like an essay - and maybe it will become one - but I’m just thinking through some thoughts at the moment. The other day I was at a meeting where someone was talking about how their friend didn’t have a sense of sin, thought they were a good person, didn’t do much wrong, and so on. That’s a typical Japanese approach to sin. Read more about A contextual reading of the concept of sin in Japanese culture
Here’s my new toy: a searchable database of articles, books, theses and so on related to missiology in Japan, with links where possible. Please let me know if you have any additions or recommendations for the database. Read more about Bibliography of Japanese missiology
This degree I’m doing, and the previous degree I did, are in a subject called “missiology”. The more missiology I do, the more I realise it’s an almost impossible discipline to do well. The reason I say this is that missiology sells itself as an interdisciplinary subject - a combination of theological reflection and something else: sociology, anthropology, economics, history, anything. In my case, leadership and organisational theory. Read more about Model abuse
To keep up with the tech news, I follow Doggdot.us. (an aggregation of Digg, Slashdot and del.icio.us) It's a mixed bag of things which are interesting to computer people. Of the things that comes up now and again is about personal branding - how to establish a “brand identity” for yourself and market yourself, for instance to increase your appeal while job hunting.