Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Hermeneutics In Everyday Life*

Suppose you're traveling to work [on an east-west street] and you see a stop sign. What do you do? That depends on how you exegete [interpret] the stop sign:

1. A postmodernist deconstructs the sign (that is, knocks it over with his car) ending forever the tyranny of the north-south traffic over the east-west traffic.

2. Similarly, a Marxist sees a stop sign as an instrument of class conflict. He concludes that the bourgeoisie use the north-south road and obstruct the progress of the workers on the east-west road.

3. A serious and educated Catholic believes that he cannot understand the stop sign apart from its interpretive community and their tradition. Observing that the interpretive community doesn't take it too seriously, he doesn't feel obligated to take it too seriously either.

4. An average Catholic (or Orthodox or Anglican or Methodist or Presbyterian or Coptic or whatever) doesn't bother to read the sign, but he'll stop if the car in front of him does.

5. A fundamentalist, taking the text very literally, stops at the stop sign and waits for it to tell him to go.

6. A preacher might look up "STOP" in his lexicon and discover that it can mean: (1) something which prevents motion, such as a plug for a drain, or a block of wood that prevents a door from closing; or, (2) a location where a train or bus lets off passengers. The big idea of his sermon the next Sunday on this text is: "When you see a stop sign, it is a place where traffic is naturally clogged, so it is a good place to let off passengers from your car."

7. An orthodox Jew takes another route to work that doesn't have a stop sign so that he doesn't risk disobeying the Law.

*Taken from Playing With Fire: How the Bible Ignites Change in Your Soul, by Walt Russell, pg. 49


charkle said...

Sounds like an interesting book!

Aaron said...


Great book, highly recommend it!