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The International Root Beer Incident

If you are ever bored, call any missionary friend who is able to take your call and ask them to tell you some stories about cross-cultural confusion. This, of course, assumes that all your techno-gadgets have fallen prey to something catastrophic and that only those dependable underground cables...
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Why Hassel with a Tassel?

The tassel attached to the Hebrew male’s outer garment is a wonderful example of artifact communication in the Bible. That is, the tassel is an item used in Israel to communicate a particular meaning within that culture… one which is foreign and, thus, unintelligible to most of the...
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Artifact Communication in the Bible

I’d like to draw your attention to artifact communication—the use of things to affect the understanding of another. Things have shared meaning within a community. Like a band of gold worn specifically on the “ring finger” of the left hand. Like a read dot in the middle of...
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Bible Reading is Cross-cultural Communication

Communication at its most basic is the use of symbols to affect the understanding of another. The symbols at a communicator’s disposal are both verbal and non-verbal. Verbal tools are spoken & heard symbols that represent ideas. Non-verbal tools are unspoken symbols that represent ideas. Phonology—uses words (individual...
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5 Ways to Avoid Miscommunication

Let’s be honest, when you understand what communication is at its roots, you’ll realize that you cannot avoid miscommunication… not altogether. It takes two to tango (That’s what my betters say, anyway… personally, I’m more of a Bugs Bunny Square Dance sort of fella’) and communication requires both...
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Confessions of a Middle Aged Professor, Part 2

In my last post, I took an honest look at my early years as a biblical studies professor. I considered a handful of things I could have done better as I was developing as a biblical theologian and scholar and attempting to minister in a highly cultured context...
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Confessions of a Middle Aged Professor, Part 1

In studies of cross-cultural communication, I have never ceased to be amazed at the potential for a disconnect even between those raised together. The unique struggles between nature & nurture, between innate personality & individual experience causes people to assess shared events differently, fostering frequent misunderstanding of each...
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Addiction, Too, Can Be a Weasel Word

Weasel words are highly emotive words that are used to manipulate perception, transferring feeling to ideas or products or policies. Weasel words take people hostage emotionally pressuring them to buy, or accept, or reject something. Buyer beware! Thinker beware! Voter beware! In my post, “Abuse Can Be a...
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Abuse Can Be a Weasel Word

In every area of life, one needs to be cautious with highly emotive words…. especially highly emotive words that, like most highly emotive words, have no clear definition, or no clear limitations. Weasel words are words that are used manipulatively to transfer emotional sensation from one thing to...
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Stumbling Stones Among Us

Some Scriptures cause me pain, especially when held in tension with others… seemingly conflicting ideas pulling at the soul, demanding wisdom… and let’s face it, wisdom can be exhausting. It’s so much easier to either throw caution to the wind or to develop a strict moral code in...
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Weasel Words & the Domination of Public Narrative

Words have a lot more than just a definition. Words have associations. Words have rich emotional content. That emotional content is a powerful tool in communication. Choosing the right word at the right time can take a sentence from blah to TADAH!!!! And just to prove that I...
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Should a Christian Get a Tattoo?

Angel, from Pune India, asked: Is getting a tattoo on the body against Scripture? Good question. There are health concerns and there are social concerns… but are there major religious concerns? Let us forget for a moment that health concerns and social concerns ARE ALWAYS religious concerns as...
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Woe the Implacable Heart

One of the transforming insights I’ve gain over the last few years regards the blindness, deafness, insensibility of the human heart. I sit stupefied at the depth of human evil in many who are so untouched by divine light as to perpetrate and defend the vilest acts against others...
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Is Prejudice Wrong?

I remember a heated discussion I had in the 90’s with an African American friend of mine over race, culture and prejudice. I often contended genetic innocence for American slavery every time he tried to tar me with that brush because during those years my ancestors were in...
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