Sunday, February 01, 2015

Fame, knowledge, and context


The Communion Sunday at the First Baptist Church of the City of Washington DC brought up some issues that I might call “The Pharisee Problem”. 

The sermon, by Dr, Stan Hastey, “Unwanted Fame”, starting off from Mark 1:28, where Jesus became controversial without his trying to be so.  In fact, according to the sermon, Jesus asked the disciples not to repeat all the stories about the miracles too soon, because his time to deal with political violence had not yet come.  To a modern person, this sounds like self-censorship in the face of threats from a combative political enemy, definitely applicable today.  Sound like the fallout of the “Cartoon Crisis”?

Hastey also mentioned the author Harper Lee, whose one novel “to Kill a Mockingbird”  became the award winning film with Gregory Peck in 1962, a film shown now regularly in high school (as it was when I worked as a sub),  Lee often worked with the more visible Truman Capote, especially on “In Cold Blood”, the film of which I saw on my first pass during Army Basic in Columbia, SC in the spring of 1968.  Lee, he said, did not seek limelight.  Neither did Jesus;  it came to him. But even in a low-tech world, rumors could go viral quickly. 
     
The epistle, 1 Corinthians 8:1-13, gets closer to the issue of gratuitous pursuit and distribution of knowledge.  Although the passage seems to deal with idolatry, it can be extended and understood as referring to “upward affiliation” and the inability or disinterest in deal with people “where they are”, and in looking at the context of the “knowledge” being made available to them.  That’s closer to the “much speaking” issue.  Curiously, that’s a big theme in the new Turkish film “Winter Sleeper” that I reviewed on the movies blog today. It was also a factor in the major breakdown when I worked as a substitute teacher, and personal materials I had placed on the Web were found and interpreted way out of the intended context, in relation to other materials. 
  
There is a bit of a "schizoid" moral paradox, in accumulating knowledge for its own sake, but in disdaining most of the people with to whom you could teach it because of their supposed personal flaws -- as in that film I saw yesterday. 
  
One can understand why dress codes used to be so important in business:  to provide a certain context for customers to feel comfortable with new technology or products with which they had been familiar in the past.  Remember how EDS was?


Update:  Feb. 3, 2014

Harper Lee will publish a "second" (actually earlier) novel soon, "Go Set a Watchman", Vox story here

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