11 March 2012

Loose ends

From September, 1968 until September, 1970 - from around my 26th to my 28th birthday - is one of two (so far!) major turnings in my life, each about two years long (the other is from September, 1993 until December, 1995).  In September, 1968 the train wreck that my life was heading for happened.  In late December, 1969, a light appeared (to radically shift the metaphor).  By the end of 1970 I was in many senses a different person.

A different person and yet picking up the threads of the old person.  Before I became a Christian, I had been studying linguistics.  Now, and through the autumn semester of 1971, I was fully back to linguistic study - and Yapese study.  I was now working intensely on the two Yapese books I have mentioned, and, as well, on preparing for the PhD oral examinations that would make me an official PhD candidate.  Until then, I was an 'unclassified graduate student' in a PhD programme.

I was also educating this new Christian John Jensen by a great deal of reading.  I have mentioned the Lutheran and Reformed authors, and the constant love affair with the writings of C. S. Lewis.  With Susan's and my joining International Baptist Church I began to study the whole Baptist and Evangelical literature.  I bought and read a great deal of Dispensationalist writing, bought the Systematic Theology of Lewis Sperry Chafer (and read parts of it :-)), much of Charles Haddon Spurgeon - well, when I think of all the books I have bought over the years - most of which I no longer have - I suppose an explanation for our lack of ready funds today would not be difficult to find!

As a linguistic undergraduate at the University of California one was required to take Sanskrit, as occupying a unique place in Indo-European studies, and either Greek or Latin.  Reasoning that I could more easily pick up Latin later, I chose Greek.  Now that I was a Christian, I was keen to read the Bible in its original languages, and my Greek made this reasonably straightforward for the New Testament (although I recall my discovery of the significant difference between being able to answer grammatical questions on an exam or dig through Xenophon in a class text and just reading an unabridged Greek text) - but Hebrew I had not studied, so set myself to do so, and to read the Hebrew (and Aramaic) Old Testament.  This occupied a considerable amount of my time.

I discovered Whitcomb and Morris's The Genesis Flood and began to think the answers could be found to my original 1969 question to Joe Arnold about evolution - although a visit by Dr Morris to the University of Auckland, a few years later, disappointed me with his answer to the biological problem of homology caused me to realise that there was a fundamental theoretical issue here (I still think there is).  He seemed not to understand the difference between homology and analogy.

I experimented a little with charismatic Christianity in this same short period of a couple of years.  The experiment revealed little other than that glossolalia seemed, in most people's minds, to be essential to the idea of the charismatic gifts of the Spirit - and that people were convinced that the glossolalia they engaged in was, or was capable of being, a real language.  I felt certain - some tongues-speakers will, certainly, convict me of intellectual pride here, I fear - from what I knew of language that, whatever was happening, the sound pattern of what I heard was incapable of carrying linguistic meaning.

Perhaps one reason I was unable to take charismatic Christianity seriously was that I had been introduced to it by a Catholic - I think, the only self-identified Catholic I had met since becoming a Christian.  I knew that Catholicism was wrong - was scarcely even Christianity - so that I knew the the charismatic movement was not really all that Christian.

Somewhere around this time I began subscribing to audio tapes of lectures by Francis Schaeffer, to whose books I was increasingly indebted for my growth as a Christian - and, it turned out fairly soon, for yet another reason, had I needed one, for knowing that the Catholic Church was wrong - more on that at the appropriate time.

The two books list Pugram and Defeg as my co-authors, and so they were - but I don't know whether they were living in Honolulu at the time, or whether this was a reference to the vast amount of work they and I had done at various other times - when I lived in Yap in June-September 1969, when, earlier, I had worked on Yapese in the Peace Corps training programme in Moloka'i in 1966-7 - together with Iou.

Whether directly with Pugram and Defeg or not, I was living and breathing Yapese.  So it was, I suppose, not unnatural that in January, 1972 I was summoned to Yap.

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