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LectionAid 4th Quarter 2012

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September 2, 2012, 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, 14th after Pentecost, Proper 17

Readings: [Psalm 45:1-2, 6-9 or Psalm 15], [Song of Solomon 2:8-13 or Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-9], James 1:17-27, Mark 7:1-8,14-15, 21-23
Writer: Don Denton

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September 9, 2012, 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, 15th after Pentecost, Proper 18

Readings: [Psalm 125 or Psalm 146], [Proverbs 22:1-2, 8-9, 22-23 or Isaiah 35:4-7a], James 2:1-10 (11-13), 14-17, Mark 7:24-37
Writer: Don Denton

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Sunday: September 16, 2012, 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time, 16th after Pentecost, Proper 19

Readings: [Psalm 19 or Wis of Sol 7:26-8:1 or Psalm 116:1-9][Proverbs 1:20-33 or Isaiah 50:4-9a], James 3:1-12, Mark 8:27-38
Writer: Nikk Adams

When starting to think about the power of language. Consider this example. Suppose I say to you in English that “I spent yesterday evening with a neighbor.” You may well wonder whether my companion was male or female, but I have the right to tell you politely that it’s none of your business. But if we were speaking French or German, I wouldn’t have the privilege to equivocate in this way, because I would be obliged by the grammar of language to choose between voisin or voisine; Nachbar or Nachbarin. These languages compel me to inform you about the sex of my companion whether or not I feel it is remotely your concern.
On the other hand, English does oblige you to specify certain types of information that can be left to the context in other languages. If I want to tell you in English about a dinner with my neighbor, I may not have to mention the neighbor’s sex, but I do have to tell you something about the timing of the event: I have to decide whether we dined, have been dining, are dining, will be dining and so on. Chinese, on the other hand, does not oblige its speakers to specify the exact time of the action in this way, because the same verb form can be used for past, present or future actions. Again, this does not mean that the Chinese are unable to understand the concept of time. But it does mean they are not obliged to think about timing whenever they describe an action.
When your language routinely obliges you to specify certain types of information, it forces you to be attentive to certain details in the world and to certain aspects of experience that speakers of other languages may not be required to think about all the time. (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/29/magazine/29language-t.html?pagewanted=all) What language we speak does determine how we communicate. But it does not confine human thought. We must not underestimate the power of the language we speak along with the power of all language.

The area where the most striking evidence for the influence of language on thought has come to light is the language of space — how we describe the orientation of the world around us. Suppose you want to give someone directions for getting to your house. You might say: “After the traffic lights, take the first left, then the second right, and then you’ll see a white house in front of you. Our door is on the right.” But in theory, you could also say: “After the traffic lights, drive north, and then on the second crossing drive east, and you’ll see a white house directly to the east. Ours is the southern door.” These two sets of directions may describe the same route, but they rely on different systems of coordinates. The first uses egocentric coordinates, which depend on our own bodies: a left-right axis and a front-back axis orthogonal to it. The second system uses fixed geographic directions, which do not rotate with us wherever we turn.
We find it useful to use geographic directions when hiking in the open countryside, for example, but the egocentric coordinates completely dominate our speech when we describe small-scale spaces. We don’t say: “When you get out of the elevator, walk south, and then take the second door to the east.” The reason the egocentric system is so dominant in our language is that it feels so much easier and more natural. After all, we always know where “behind” or “in front of” us is. We don’t need a map or a compass to work it out, we just feel it, because the egocentric coordinates are based directly on our own bodies and our immediate visual fields.
But then a remote Australian aboriginal tongue, Guugu Yimithirr, from north Queensland, turned up, and with it came the astounding realization that not all languages conform to what we have always taken as simply “natural.” In fact, Guugu Yimithirr doesn’t make any use of egocentric coordinates at all. Whenever we would use the egocentric system, the Guugu Yimithirr relies on cardinal directions. If they want you to move over on the car seat to make room, they’ll say “move a bit to the east.” To tell you where exactly they left something in your house, they’ll say, “I left it on the southern edge of the western table.” Or they would warn you to “look out for that big ant just north of your foot.”
In coming years, researchers may also be able to shed light on the impact of language on more subtle areas of perception. For instance, some languages, like Matses in Peru, oblige their speakers, like the finickiest of lawyers, to specify exactly how they came to know about the facts they are reporting. You cannot simply say, as in English, “An animal passed here.” You have to specify, using a different verbal form, whether this was directly experienced (you saw the animal passing), inferred (you saw footprints), conjectured (animals generally pass there that time of day), hearsay or such. If a statement is reported with the incorrect “evidentially,” it is considered a lie. (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/29/magazine/29language-t.html?pagewanted=all) Language has a force of its own. We still do not even in modern society fully understand how languages affect each of us.

 

Sunday: September 23, 2012, 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time, 17th after Pentecost, Proper 20

Readings: [Psalm 1 or Psalm 54], [Proverbs 31:10-31 or Wis of Sol 1:16-2:1,12-22 or Jeremiah 11:18-20],James 3:13-4:3, 7-8a, Mark 9:30-37
Writer: Nikk Adams

 

Since I live in Colorado and I am a fan of the Broncos I was in the middle of a media storm when there were rumors that Payton Manning was coming to Denver. If you follow sports or politics you can find a similar media storm about something as an illustration. There was a two month argument about whether or not we should or should not have replaced Tim Tebow as our quarterback and gotten Peyton Manning. The arguments go something like this. Peyton is old and injured and Tebow is young and learning so we should not have gotten rid of Tim Tebow. The other side says Peyton Manning has four MVP awards and he is one of the greatest students of the game. He will get us in the Super Bowl.
So how does this argument get decided? The answer is simple for those of us that watch and argue about football. We will tell you after the next season.

But perhaps the most dangerous harvest of the ethic of aggression and ritual fighting is -- as with the audience response to the screaming man on the television talk show -- an atmosphere of animosity that spreads like a fever. In extreme forms, it rears its head in road rage and workplace shooting sprees. In more common forms, it leads to what is being decried everywhere as a lack of civility. It erodes our sense of human connection to those in public life -- and to the strangers who cross our paths and people our private lives. (Deborah Tannen is professor of linguistics at Georgetown University. This article is adapted from her new book, "The Argument Culture" [Random House] also “For Argument's Sake; Why Do We Feel Compelled to Fight About Everything?”
by Deborah Tannen The Washington Post, March 15, 1998)

The time for this sermon will be towards the close of the presidential race in the USA. I am sure that all public figures expect to be criticized ruthlessly which testifies to the ritualized nature of such attack: It is not sparked by specific wrongdoing but is triggered automatically.
Tannen once asked a reporter about the common journalistic practice of challenging interviewees by repeating criticism to them. She told me it was the hardest part of her job. "It makes me uncomfortable," she said. "I tell myself I'm someone else and force myself to do it." But, she said she had no trouble being combative if she felt someone was guilty of behavior she considered wrong. And that is the crucial difference between ritual fighting and literal fighting: opposition of the heart.
In the past, some attacks were motivated by true political passion, in contrast with today's automatic, ritualized attacks -- which seem to grow out of a belief that conflict is high-minded and good, a required and superior form of discourse. (ibid) We so need to hear James at this point.

An aggressive intellectual style is cultivated and rewarded in our colleges and universities. The standard way to write an academic paper is to position your work in opposition to someone else's. Graduate students learn that they must disprove others' arguments in order to be original, make a contribution and demonstrate intellectual ability. The temptation is great to oversimplify at best, and at worst to distort or even misrepresent other positions, the better to refute them.
Tannen once asked someone the question: "Why do you need to make others wrong for you to be right?" Her response: "It's an argument!" Aha, I thought, that explains it. If you're having an argument, you use every tactic you can think of -- including distorting what your opponent just said -- in order to win. Tannen without realizing it showed the real weakness of being a “right-fighter.” (ibid)

September 30, 2012, 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time, 18th after Pentecost, Proper 21

Readings: [Psalm 124 or Psalm 19:7-14], [Esther 7:1-6, 9-10; 9:20-22 or Numbers 11:4-6,10-16, 24-29],James 5:13-20, Mark 9:38-50
Writer: Nikk Adams

No Extra Material

October 7, 2012, 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time, 19th after Pentecost, Proper 22

Readings: [Psalm 8 or Psalm 26], [Genesis 2:18-24 or Job 1:1; 2:1-10], Hebrews 1:1-4; 2:5-12, Mark 10:2-16
Writer: Nikk Adams

No Extra Material

October 14, 2012, 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time, 20th after Pentecost, Proper 23

Readings: [Psalm 22:1-15 or Psalm 90:12-17], [Job 23:1-9, 16-17 or Amos 5:6-7, 10-15], Hebrews 4:12-16, Mark 10:17-31
Writer: Nikk Adams

No Extra Material

October 21, 2012, 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time, 21st after Pentecost, Proper 24

Readings: [Psalm 104:1-9, 24, 35c or Psalm 91:9-16], [Job 38:1-7 (34-41) or Isaiah 53:4-12], Hebrew 5:1-10, Mark 10:35-45
Writer: Stan Adamson

No Extra Material

October 28, 2012, 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time, 22nd after Pentecost, Proper 25

Readings: [Psalm 126 or Psalm 34:1-8 (19-22)], [Job 42:1-6, 10-17 or Jeremiah 31:7-9], Hebrews 7:23-28, Mark 10:46-52
Writer: Stan Adamson

No Extra Material


November 4, 2012, 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time, 23rd after Pentecost, Proper 26

Readings: [Psalm 119:1-8 or Psalm 146], [Deuteronomy 6:1-9 or Ruth 1:1-18], Hebrews 9:11-14, Mark 12:28-34
Writer: Ed McNulty

No Extra Material

November 11, 2012, 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, 24th after Pentecost, Proper 27

Readings: [Psalm 127 or Psalm 146], [Ruth 3:1-5; 4:13-17 or 1Kings 17:8-16], Hebrews 9:24-28, Mark 12:38-44
Writer: Ed McNulty

No Extra Material

November 18, 2012, 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, 25th after Pentecost, Proper 28

Readings: [Psalm 16 or 1Samuel 2:1-10], [1Samuel 1:4-20 or Daniel 12:1-3], Hebrews 10:11-14 (15-18), 19-25, Mark 13:1-8
Writer: Buddy Cooper
No Extra Material

November 25, 2012, Christ the King, 34th Sunday in Ordinary Time, 26th after Pentecost, Proper 29

Readings: [Psalm 132:1-12 (13-18) or Psalm 93], [2Samuel 23:1-7 or Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14], Revelation 1:4b-8, John 18:33-37
Writer: Buddy Cooper

No Extra Material

 

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