Wednesday, 15 August 2007

Word Study & Metrosexual

A few weeks ago, I was explaining how to do word study in my Exegetical Methods class in the seminary. In the prosess, I also highlighted some of the fallacies of word study and the need to be aware of our assumptions especially when it comes to compound words.

As an illustration, I gave the example of a series of compound words such as homosexual, bisexual, heterosexual, and transsexual that have one thing in common - all of them clearly describe the sexual orientation of a particular individual. However, not every compound word that ends with "sexual" carries the force of describing one's sexual orientation. To emphasise this point, I highlighted that the word "metrosexual" does not really describe a person's sexual orientation.

Then I received blank looks from those in the class. One student asked, "What is metrosexual? Is this a new word? Never heard of this before."

Opps...Wrong example to use...

But being cheeky as usual, I then gave a brief definition of a metrosexual as "an urban male that is in touch with his feminine side. He is one that is conscious of the latest male fashion, pays particular attention to his appearance, allocates a large portion of his budget for cosmetics, be a part of the gym and fitness culture, goes for spa, facial, and even hair removal, whether facial or elsewhere."

Opps...Not a very "appropriate" or "spiritual" definition to be given in a class in seminary!

One has to be there to witness the response I received, and the looks in the faces of some of the students. I would not want to imagine what went through their minds or what they think of me.

Someone in the class then commented something like this (which I freely paraphrase), "I do not know there is a male cosmetic section in the department store. You mean they sell male cosmetic nowadays?"

I think I can almost hear Steven Curtis Chapman, "I am speechless...."

Postscript: I wonder as ministers and future ministers of the gospel, how can we effectively reach out to our young people if we are simply not in touch with the contemporary culture? So, is it any wonder that in some urban churches, we are fast losing our youth and young adults simply because we are no longer relevant, or perhaps, we are not interested in what they are interested in, or we are not making any serious effort in moving with the times? Something for me to ponder...


Alex Tang said...

hi Kar Yong,

I believe you have pointed out a very important reason for the failure of the church to reach out to the young adults, youth and children.

It is because the pastors, teachers and leaders have no idea what they lives are like. These leaders and teachers work form the belief that the younger generations live in the same world as they do.

Pastors and leaders of the churches, after a few years tend to live in a world that is centred around the church's problems, the church's need and their family's needs. This, in a way is a very artificial world. They lose touch with the real world.

To keep in touch with the younger generation, we need to move into their world. That is what started me blogging, comic reading and computer games. At least I know what they are doing and what they are talking about.

Kar Yong said...

Hi Alex,

Thanks for the thoughts. Great to know there is value in reading comics...I used to be a comic fan myself!

What really worries me is that it is not only "the pastors, teachers and leaders of the church" that seem to be out of tune with the world the younger generations live in, but also the very fact that we are educating/encouraging those younger generations in our church today to be alienated from their peers/culture. So, are we creating some kind of Christian ghettos in our churches today?

I wonder if the seminarians are not in tune with the "real" world, what would happen to our churches when they graduate from seminary? To further perpetuate the problems? How would they respond to the college students in my church who are asking, "Is it wrong for me to be a metrosexual?" (and I'm not kidding here - this is a question that was raised during a series of talks on sexuality with the college students) while we are simply clueless about what/who is a metrosexual!

Alex Tang said...

hi Kar Yong,

That is one of my concern exactly- the creation of a Christian ghetto. I can see the trend already as Christians moves around in Christian only crowds, do business with other Christians and opt for home schooling. It may be possible to exist within a protective cocoon or ghetto. However sooner or later, these Christians have to come into contact with the 'real' world. So what happens then? They are not really equipped to deal with the 'real' world. They are not 'street wise' in the 'real' world. So what happens next? They reject the 'real' world and retreat back into their 'safe' cocoon or they are seduced by the 'real' world and we lose them. Worldwide, the church has been steadily losing its young people to the world and I think it is time that church leaders begin to acknowledge and face this problem.

The seminaries also need to do their part. These 3-4 years in a seminaries are actually an artificial 'Christian' environment. Sometimes I wonder if this is healthy. What do you think?

ionStorm said...

ooo...i see the word COMPUTER GAMES. lets have a match! :P

Paul said...

Your story was funny and at the same time sad ... but then this is where you come in to teach and challenege ...

Kar Yong said...

Hi Alex,

You have brought up a valid point. I guess the challenge is that while we are indeed in a "Christian" environment in the seminary, it need not mean that we have to be isolated from the "real" world.

To educate and to challenge our students to read the scriptures with one hand and the newspaper the other hand is not an easy task. To bring the students beyond reading the scripture at the "devotional" level is also another challenge.

This remains one of the greatest challenges for us in the seminary. I have been trying very hard to bring in "real issues" to the classroom, but I do admit that at many times, I too have failed to make that connection.

How do we need much wisdom and divine guidance!

Kar Yong said...

Hi Paul,

Many thanks for the affirmation.

Alex Tang said...

Hi Kar Yong,

Maybe we have to rethink the way we teach in the seminaries. We compartmentalise our knowledge and experience. So students attend classes on systematic theology, OT, NT, homiletics, etc.

I have been teaching in a medical school. Medical education has undergo a revolution in recent years. They have adopted Problem Based Learning (PBL). They start with a patient and his or her problems, formulate their learning objectives and outcome, do their research, come back to discuss, do more research and then form their conclusions. I find the approach fascinating. And this approach has the support of the latest learning theories.

And what I find more fascinating is that medical education, which is so conservative and old-fashioned is able to change. If medical education can change, why not theological education? Then you start from the world and end up in Kingdom territory.

pearlie said...

Whoa ... the discussion here is so serious and I was about to say that I love your post - that it is priceless! Of course, I get the part that we need to be more in touch in the world to be ministers. But the thing was that your post made me laugh so so so much. I can really imagine how their faces would be because the same happened to me when my boss used the word one day. I was like, "What? Metro-what?" I know what's a homosexual, heterosexual, etc and now he is telling me he is a metrosexual? Oh boy ...

Kar Yong said...

Hi Alex,

Thanks for the thots again. I look forward to explore this further with you when we meet again next month.

I have been toying with some of these ideas in my classroom approach, but not exactly in the way you described it. For instance, in my lecture on the life and ministry of Paul the Apostle, I showed a docummentary on the life of Paul. Then a list of questions is given to the students to discuss whether they agree or disagree on the the various issues and problems raised in the docummentary. The discussion is meant to help them understand the critical issues surrounding the life and minsitry of Paul. I find this to be much more beneficial than to give them a systematic (and often boring)lecture on the life and ministry of Paul.

I might do a post on this later on.

Kar Yong said...

Pearlie, now you know you are not alone. I was just talking to someone in the seminary about metrosexual, the response is ..."What ah...???"

Paul said...

I think that STM has gotten a big blessing in Kar Yong joining their staff ... sad for MBS though :-)

I enjoyed taking the course that Kar Yong did on Hermeneutics under both MBS, STM and the CBTE at 1st Baptist Church., PJ a few years ago as I discovered that there were basic areas that I had not taken seriously enough and other areas that I had to "re-wrestle" with.

A number of us at our table could not help but wish (it just came up) that we had Kar Yong as our Greek NT teacher as we agreed that we needed his kind of passion for NT exegesis and mastering NT Greek. For many of us, the spirit was willing but the flesh was weak as the way NT Greek was taught was so boring and all we wanted to do was get it over with, pass the course and move on.

Sad to say, my goal for NT Greek while doing my BTh was to just pass and go for As other more exciting courses to ensure I got the required GPA to graduate.

I have since repented by the way :-)but my NT Greek still sucks :-(

Kar Yong said...

Hi Paul,

Thanks for the compliments.

Having said that, MBS does have excellent lecturers too.

Well, it's not too late to pick up Greek once again!

Paul said...

oooh I better make sure I add that I did not mean to say MBS lecturers were bad ... :-) some of us were just talking about our NT Greek class experiences of days past

Förkunnarbloggen said...

Hello there...I was surfing around and just happened to come across your page. Thinking about doing a word study of the theological concept charis in the Corpus Paulini. Do you have any advice on NT scholars, articles, books etc?