Sunday, August 23, 2009

Already? / Uncanny valleys ( I Cor. 4 )

"A little knowledge is a dangerous thing," an old English proverb asserts. The term "sophomore" derives from two Greek words, sophos + moros, and means, literally, "wise fool." The adjective "sophomoric" applies to arguments that seem to have a superficial plausibility, but no depth.

The Corinthians "knew just enough to be dangerous." (another useful idiom!) And it was Paul's unenviable task to give them a "reality check."
1Co 4:8 Zaten tok ve zenginsiniz! Biz olmadan krallar olmuşsunuz! Keşke gerçekten krallar olsaydınız da, biz de sizinle birlikte krallık etseydik!
1Co 4:9 Kanımca Tanrı biz elçileri, en geriden gelen ölüm hükümlüleri gibi gözler önüne serdi. Hem melekler hem insanlar için, bütün evren için seyirlik oyun olduk.
1Co 4:10 Biz Mesih uğruna akılsızız, ama siz Mesih'te akıllısınız! Biz zayıfız, siz güçlüsünüz! Siz saygıdeğer kişilersiniz, bizse değersiziz!
Let's look at a few words:
  • akılsızız -- We are foolish. akıl -- mind, intellect, understanding. -sız- -- minus, without. -ız -- we are.
  • akıllısınız -- You are wise. akıl -- mind, intellect, understanding. -lı- -- with. -sınız -- you are.
The "uncanny valley" is something you encounter in animation, or linguistics. Imagine an animated cartoon character. As the techniques of animation become more sophisticated, it is possible to make the character look more and more realistic. This is fine, up to a point. Then, you reach the "uncanny valley," when the cartoon is more realistic than it has any right to be, but not yet convincing as a substitute for a real actor. Something in us finds that disturbing. When you begin studying a new language, native speakers will humor you, and overlook your many faux pas -- until you reach the uncanny valley. Then, when you sound better than any foreigner has a right to, but still make verbal blunders, those are much less forgivable.

The Corinthians knew a little about the gospel, and thought they knew it all. This is a common error for newcomers to faith -- "Hey, I know the God of the Universe! What can you offer me to top that?" Well, life is complicated, messy, and challenging on every front. A mature faith is more demure in some ways, less willing to apply nostrums and cliches to real-world dilemmas, and more likely to offer real insights to human problems. The Corinthians had not gotten there, at this point. In fact, they hadn't even made it to the uncanny valley.

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