Meanwhile, learning to read

Meanwhile, learning to read

My classes started up again, recently, and we have lots of things to read. I don’t want to complain or anything, but with some of these texts, it seems like I don’t know how to read at all. They challenge you to focus on every single word: German textbooks tend to be written in long sentences, and seemingly similar words can mean something completely different. Here is an amusingly confusing example:

The difference between “Eschatic” and “Eschatological”

“Sofern von dem den weltlichen Erwartungshorizont transzendierenden ewigen Erwartungshorizont auf der Basis des christlichen Glauben sowie ihn beinhaltender Sachverhalte die Rede ist, wird vom Eschatischen gesprochen, sofern dieses Eschatische Gegenstand der wissenschaftlichen Rede ist, ist vom Eschatologischen die Rede.”
English Translation
“Provided that one is speaking of the expectation which transcends inner-worldy expectation on the basis of the Christian faith as well the circumstances within it, one is speaking of the “Eschatic”, provided this Eschatic is the object of scientific discourse, one shall speak of “the Eschatological”.”

Any questions? Didn’t think so. But seriously, I had to read that sentence about a dozen times to somewhat understand its structure, let alone the content.

A “translation”: there are things a Christian believes that cannot be proven, yet we believe these things to be true, say, the belief in a “soul”, “eternal life”, or “heaven”. But just because they cannot be proven in a lab experiment, doesn’t mean they are random imaginings out of thin air. They are based on an “expectation” and the expectations can be talked about in “scientific discourse”. So, anytime you speak of the expectations themselves (someone says “heaven is real”, etc.), this is “Eschatic”. Anytime you have a scientific conversation about those expectations (people ask “what is the reason we think that “heaven is real”, etc.”), you are having a “Eschatological” conversation.

The point of it all: Sometimes, you need to do stuff that seems ridiculous or confusing or all-together too complicated. Sometimes, you feel like what you have known so far is inadequate. But really, you are challenging the limits of your mind and experience, you are “learning to read” in a deeper way. The above information taught me several things: to look closer at what I read, be that in a textbook or a contract, or a news article. It reminded me again that you cannot prove or disprove faith, but that you can have a conversation about it. And it showed me that having an idea and thinking about that idea are not the same thing: Just because you have an opinion, doesn’t mean you thought it through. It challenges me to look at my beliefs, assumptions, and values and to think them through. Not bad for one convoluted sentence!
So, when you challenge yourself or are challenged by something, don’t roll your eyes at it, just yet. Hopefully, you can “learn to read” that situation and discover something that helps you live real-life in a deeper way.

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