Thursday, December 2, 2010

Your Assumptions Define Your Possible Answers

"Place me"

What does that mean? If that is what you see, how do you interpret it? Is it a suspect defiantly telling the cops to try to place him at the scene of a crime? Is it a Seminarian pleading with the Seminary to place him in a parish. It is someone speaking broken English asking for a spot at a table? Or even a corruption of "my place" in broken English?

There could be many interesting ideas as to how this term is to be used - many assumptions that could be brought in. These could be very interesting, wise, insightful.

However, all the above fall short of what the above means.

It's not English. It's Latin. It means "Please me." It means "Do what I wish for unto me." It is a command demanding pleasure.

While I should probably think of a better example the point is this - if there is a wrong assumption (ah, this is English), there can be brilliant, well reasoned argumentation that yields wrong conclusions. If you go with the assumption that "Place me" is supposed to be an English phrase, you can get some interesting stuff, but it isn't right.

I know many people can't understand why I will hold to a literal interpretation of the Scriptures when we can "clearly see" so many thing that point that it isn't so. They can be even more surprised when I actually enjoy hearing about current theories and the like and that I have at least a novice's level of understanding of them.

It's not that I am irrational or that I just don't get it. I simply operate under a different set of assumptions - one that I tend to think is superior.

"But why would God have made things to look the way they do and lead us to the conclusions we have come to? Why would God give us something that looks like English but really is Latin?" He hasn't.

The difference between my example is that I contend that He has said, "Hey, this is Latin" -- or at least the equivalent within my analogy -- with what He has revealed in Scripture.

7 comments:

The Exiled said...

First, I think your analogy is horrible.

"Why would God give us something that looks like English but really is Latin?"

If one was reading a Latin text and came across the phrase "place me", I would certainly hope that they knew that it was Latin, not English, that they were reading! Also, and I'm just guessing here, Latin as a language is slightly older than English.

You say, "I simply operate under a different set of assertions." I think you meant to write assumptions. Either way, your thinking is not so "superior."

The phrase you are looking for is "Quidquid percipitur ad modum percipientis perciptur." For those who are not Latin scholars like the author of this blog, translated it means, "One perceives according to one's own mode of perception."

Do you know any Latin at all, or are you just trying to impress someone? You'll have to do more than feign knowledge of Latin to get a call out of your current parish, or move up the ranks past circuit counselor. (A position that, in its current state, is not one to be desired.)

The root of the word "place" is "placeo". If you knew something about Latin, you would know that the phrase you chose to highlight "place me" is not to be translated in the sense of pleasure, as you have done, but connotes agreement. (e.g. If it pleases the court, your honor.)

Instead of embarrassing yourself with bad analogies and/or a poor understanding of Latin, can't you just write a post that gets right to the point?

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

Um, wow.

Okay - I did admit in the text that I need to find a better example, but I don't think I did that much violence to Latin there. "Placeo" is the root of our word "placate" - to please, to make happy, do do what another wishes. Even your phrase, "if it pleases the court" implies that the speaker will act in accordance with and at the judges' pleasure.

And you are right about how I used assertions when I meant assumptions - I have fixed that. Thank you.

However, I am slightly confused as to the tenor of your comment. Some of this is because I don't know you or where you are coming from, nor why there is such passion in your words. However, you note, "You'll have to do more than feign knowledge of Latin to get a call out of your current parish, or move up the ranks past circuit counselor. "

What makes you think that I write on a blog to get a call or somehow move up the "ranks"? That strikes me as odd.

Actually, what got me thinking about this is that last week I saw a friend from college at his wedding, and many of his friends are quite intelligent people, very knowledgeable about scientific theory. They were surprised when I said that I held to a literal 6-Day creation - yet I could understand and comment intelligently on what they were discussing.

I don't hold to a 6 day creation because I don't understand Science - I simply do not use science to answer the question of origins because I hold that Scripture is a better answer. That's how I understand what I see.

And the problem is if you take a faulty assertion (i.e. that God does not intervene) you will get the wrong answer, even if you use logic and reason in spectacular ways.

Dennis Walters said...

Rev. Brown:

There are a handful of Lutheran pastors' blogs I enjoy following from afar. Yours is one of them.
Thank you.

I get it that there will be disagreements, and at times the discussions are even civil.

I don't get it, however, when some commenters raise their points with such a personal animus. It undercuts the points they're trying to raise, whether valid or not.

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

Dennis,

I think that sometimes (and this is speaking to the general attitudes which you reference) people seem more concerned about "winning" the argument rather speaking the truth and convincing their opponent.

The two are not one and the same.

On the one hand, we can focus on scoring points, showing ourselves to be superior to our opponent either in knowledge, wisdom, position, or piety... with the understanding that if we win, then obviously they should simply accede to our point.

On the other hand, we can peel away a lot of the rancor, the personalities (or personas) involved, and then try to get to the specific points at play and let them stand.

John the Baptist summed it up - when his disciples complained about Christ's rising popularity, he simply said, "I must decrease that He may increase." Likewise, when we make arguments, we need to decrease so that the point we make may take the fore.

This is something that is lacking in all segments of American society today.

christopherdhall.com said...

Pr. Brown,
I thought "The Exiled" was someone you knew who was just giving you a hard time...still pretty vicious. Then I read that you don't know him.

Sheesh. Now I know why he is exiled.

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

Nope - I don't know him - at least not that I know of.

It's a shame - his blog ( http://iamjustastrangerhere.blogspot.com/ ) seems to be a fairly good blog - things I would agree with and back him up on... even likes David Scaer (I'm guessing that's the point of the "Get to the point" - and if he is still reading, I'd point him to The Scaerian Mass).

I'm sure I violated some cardinal rule or another and now Anathema sum. Oh well, thus is life.

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

The Exiled (as opposed to The Exile from Star Wars: The Old Republic II) made a point that I would like to address.

If one was reading a Latin text and came across the phrase "place me", I would certainly hope that they knew that it was Latin, not English, that they were reading! Also, and I'm just guessing here, Latin as a language is slightly older than English.

This is precisely the point of the text. Just as English is a "modern" language that we are used to dealing with, today we tend to be used to dealing with things in a materialistic, scientific fashion. All too often we simply assume that this is what reality is - just an endless series of cause and effect that we can break down and analyze.

The problem is that we forget that there is a much older knowledge, a much older way of looking at the world - and that is looking at it through the Word of God.

We understand the Word, and so we recognize its truth in the world. The sad part is that too many people don't - they don't even think in those terms.