Have you noticed how people use the word “shame” in different ways? What is the relationship between these perspectives on shame? These questions motivated me to write a newly published article in Themelios called “Have Theologians No Sense of Shame? How the Bible Reconciles Objective and Subjective Shame.” In it, I hope people will better grasp shame’s theological and practical significance.Everyone agrees that shame is a pervasive problem. Yet, in book and articles, we find writers often talk past one… Read more

How does honor shape our views of morality? How does not having an honor perspective influence moral behavior? We consider these questions in this third post in a series reviewing Tamler Sommers’ Why Honor Matters. (Click on links for Part 1, Part 2) What are Honor Norms? Sommers explores “norms” commonly found in honor cultures. He first explains, Norms are the rules or principles that govern human behavior within society. Every known society has norms, and human beings have an innate… Read more

When it comes to honor, Tamler Sommers is a realist, not a romantic. He challenges readers to set aside their assumptions about honor and morality. In so doing, we notice the pervasive and inescapable influence of honor on our lives. Honor and Identity In Why Honor Matters, he says, “Honor is social; it cannot exist for individuals in isolation” (p. 17). Sommers notes a distinction between honor and non-honor cultures–– they understand “identity” in different ways. Humans are inherently social… Read more

Why Honor Matters will be one of the most significant and controversial books of the year. I waited almost a year to receive my copy of Tamler Sommers’ Why Honor Matters. I was not disappointed. It is now one of my favorite books on honor and shame. And, as you might know, I’ve read a lot of them, having written my dissertation and other publications on the subject. A Practical Perspective The author is a philosophy professor at the University of… Read more

A recent post on TGC warns against the dangers of becoming imbalanced when serving in honor-shame cultures. Jayson Georges’ exceptional response is a must-read. He replies via three main points: He poses the question, “In reality, who is unbalanced?” The imbalance among honor-shame proponents is hypothetical, not real. The reaction against honor-shame misrepresents the topic. If you have not seen Jayson’s post, it’s worth reading just for the sake of the comic he uses. Are Westerners Guilty of Under Correction?… Read more

Unfortunately Proverbs 22:6 is one of the most quoted verses in the Bible. Why “unfortunately”? Because it is routinely translated to say the opposite of its actual meaning.  Problematic Translation Here is the translation of Proverbs 22:6 in the ESV and CUV. “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” “教养孩童, 使他走当行的道, 就是到老他也不偏离.” The problematic phrase is “in the way he should go” or, in Chinese, “使…当行的道”…. Read more

“We are our memories,” so we think. It turns out that’s not true. Various studies indicate the things we honor and shame determine our identity more than do our memories. Morality defines “me” In her book Passing Judgment, Terri Apter summarizes the findings of several empirical studies. She writes, In fact, our judgments are more integral to who we are than our memories. It is widely recognized that brain damage can change one’s personality: those who suffer dementia, for example,… Read more

If one’s worldview is constructed through the integration of symbol and story rehearsed through ritual on the anchor and master levels, it will be deconstructed the same way so that it can be reconstructed. Rival symbols, stories, and rituals, in an integrative way, must replace ones that formerly gave allegiance to false gods. Transforming one’s worldview is the replacement of formerly held symbols, stories, and rituals with rival ones. This re-symboling, re-storying, and re-ritualing results in much more than changed observable behavior; it results in the deep-level alteration of the heart; it results in a new worldview script, new symbols, all of which are rehearsed through new rituals. Read more

“You’re not going to bed until I hear about what you’ve been doing in Palawan,” I impetuously dictated to Trevor McIlwain in 1980. Our conversation went deep into the night. What I heard was something that would change Christian communicators and their recipients around the globe. Read more

Last week, I wrote a post explaining the structure of many Chinese churches and the influence of patronage in pastoral relationships. By coincidence, ChinaSource Quarterly just published an entire issue discussing denominationalism in China. Read more

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