Wednesday, May 16, 2007

You Reach, I Teach

Many years ago, playing basketball with my next door neighbor Creed, he had a favorite saying: "You reach, I teach." He was referring to my tendency to reach and try to slap his dribble away. Now he didn't always succeed in showing me up every time I tried it, but he did make a lasting impression on my defense; there is something to be said for physical and close-body defending, rather than going for the quick slap away.

Also, I've found that as I evolve academically, the same basic principle applies. Many authors are doing quite well in explaining their theory, and then suddenly they "reach." Some kind of mildly good point is suddenly extended into an immaculate meta-narrative of the entire field, and simply begs for a good drubbing. For example, the Historical Jesus people made many good contributions to biblical studies over the years, but when they tried to completely rewrite the canon of Scripture and faith itself by applying their principles in a totalizing manner, Luke Johnson had to teach. Likewise, many feminist have made good points about the disparity of sex roles in certain cultural constructs, but as they've gradually had to extend their ideas into the mainstream, some teaching has been necessary.

Such very good lessons were learned early in life, and I certainly have to include "you reach, I teach" among their number. Nice work Creed.


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