Leslie Newbigin writes with a kind of clarity of thought that I really love. The central idea of this book is the answer to the question, "If one were a missionary to the modern western culture, what approach would one need to take?"
A key idea is that all cultures have a plausibility structure... a system of cultural artifacts and belief systems that make a new idea either acceptable or unacceptable.He decodes the enlightenment-informed plausibility structures of the society of his time.(He was a contemporary of CS Lewis.)Core to understanding this culture, in Newbigin's formulation is that in our culture there are some ideas that are apparently value-free and purpose-free and self-evident.And yet, we know very few things of value that are purpose-free.We can know the intricate finger work of a pianist, or the electrical brain signals of a lecturer, but still not understand the purposes of the music or the lecturer's key point.Knowing "how a thing is" is distinct from knowing the purposes behind a thing.
I am reminded in reading this of the reading I recently did in Man's Search for Meaning
in which Frankl (1940s) shows that when people lose their sense of purpose, their lifespan comes to a quick end.
There is so much more here.One of the best mind-stretching books I've read in a long time.
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