Saturday, May 15, 2010

Putting Context Into Context


It's a good day to drop in on my friend Merriam. A word's been clunking around in my thoughts like a cerebral marble in the clothes dryer.


The word? Context.

Even before I dropped by Merriam's place for some help, the term rose up again - and powerfully - in my reading yesterday afternoon.

In Art Lindsley's masterful work ,"True Truth"
(a must read! for everyone), there's a chapter devoted to contextualization. The entire book is gripping, but this particular portion gave me a better idea of why, exactly, such a word might be important to understand.

It derives from the Latin root contextus which means the connection of words, or coherence. The deepest aspect of the word means to weave together.

In today's vernacular (do you like that one, Beth?), it means ...

  • 1. The parts of a discourse that surround a word or passage and can throw light on its meaning
  • 2. The interrelated conditions in which something exists or occurs (i.e., environment, setting, history)
So, equipped now with linguistic armor, I just might be able to put context to the context that's interrupted all my other thoughts.

Let me first share a couple of favorite sayings:

It's never what it (fill in the "it" with
ANY circumstance) seems.


We don't know what we don't know.

These statements simply serve to remind me that I often do not, or cannot discern the context of a situation or challenge. I try, and sometimes I even think "I get it!". However, it's typically not until the passage of time, and with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight that a picture comes into clearer focus.

As if to turn the telescope in the right direction, my rear-view sight is often far more wizened than my sight when looking straight onto something (the forest versus the trees condition).

Either I view a situation as it really is, or I enlarge or shrink it depending on which end of the telescope I peer through.

Typically it's not until later - sometimes MUCH later - that the fuzziness of my my vision clears. At some point I see exactly what Merriam suggests - the context is finally woven together.

The true truth of the word context, as well ANY of the content associated with it, is that there is none apart from God. None. Zip. Zilch. Nada.

God's providence is on the side of clear heads.
Henry Ward Beecher

Phew! The marble has been silenced.


And we know that in all things
God works for the good of those
who love him, who have been
called according to his purpose.
Romans 8:28

The longer I live,
the more faith I have in Providence,
and the less faith in my
interpretation of Providence.

Jeremiah Day

11 comments:

Diana said...

Enjoyed this great message!

Debbie said...

Kathleen, I knew you were smart and this proves it!

I'm always trying to figure out things. But in the midst of circumstances, it's often difficult since that's when I'm only able to see the trees and not the forest.

How thankful I am that I don't have to figure everything out. I can rest in the assurance that the Lord has my back. There is a purpose and eventually (or not) it will be revealed.

I'm taking things moment by moment and day by day especially after listening to my good blogging friend Kathleen. :)

Hugs to you,
Debbie

Shirl said...

Taking things in context has been at the forefront of my spiritual studies of late. I think of distorted preachings I've heard in my past because scriptures weren't being taken in context. For years, I have all but shunned many wonderful books in the Bible because of the preachings I've heard from them. Lately, I made up my mind that I was going to read every one of them, and what a blessing they have been! How many times I've stumbled onto scriptures, having read them in context, and realized they don't at all mean how I've heard them preached! Liberating! Truly liberating!

Karen Lange said...

Liked the content of this, and the context that it was in:)

skoots1mom said...

such a great mesage...
I changed my url addres today...
now it is
http://skootsonemom.blogspot.com
:)

Patrina said...

thanks for the lesson! There is nothing apart from God!....Absolutely Nothing!

Great post, thanks.

Patrina <")>><

Sonja said...

What a clever way to put 'context' into context!!

Just a little something from Judy said...

Sometimes(like this evening), I wish you were sitting here beside me and giving me a word by word interpretation of this post. Maybe I am too tired this evening to put the context into the context where it needs to be. Oh, how I admire your abilty to write and express your heart.

I really like the last quote on Providence.

Andrea said...

Wow, Kathleen! This post is truly amazing! You are a deep thinker, and God being the center of your life makes you one awesome person!

I love the quote from Jeremiah Day! This gets to me, too! Yes, the longer I live, the more I believe in God's providence in all things; yet, the longer I live, the more I realize the limitations of my human understanding.

Thanks for making me think more contextual! :) And, thanks for making me see the greatness of my God!

Blessings and love,

Andrea

Rebecca said...

Your mind works a little like mine! Scary! (and reassuring, too)

I copied that Jeremiah Day quote. Hadn't heard it said quite like that before.

Do you know who Jeremiah Day is/was????

Jackie said...

Great post Kathleen!

I absolutely LOVE word studies and your dissection of such a seemingly simple word "context" really blessed me!!

Oh, I too love the Jeremiah Day quote!!! I guess those of us who are a little seasoned in years can put into proper context the "longer I live" part!

Sweet Blessings!
Jackie