This is a personal essay, with my cultural heritage obviously playing an important part in this perspective. My heritage began in a rural area of Pennsylvania, where I was born in a cottage owned by my grandfather and located on a Methodist camp meeting “ground”. It was during the Great Depression and work was hard to find. A few years later we moved to a small farm, purchased by my parents from my father’s grandfather.
As far as my education is concerned, I began primary school when I was five years old and for eight years I attending a one-room, eight-grade facility. The teacher, like my mother, taught all the grades, performed chores, and played with the children at recess. There were normally around 30 students in attendance at the school. In those days each morning started with a Bible reading, the singing of some patriotic songs, and our pledging allegiance to the flag of the United States of America. In the late 1950s and early 1960s rural education was consolidated and soon the one-room schools had all but disappeared.
In such a public setting students were supposed to concentrate on their school work, even as individual classes were called upon to go to the front of the room, sit in large benches, and take turns at the blackboard demonstrating their proficiency in reading, writing, and arithmetic. Those of us left at our desks learned a great deal simply by listening and watching the other classes. But what I remember best about those first eight years was the large amount of time we seemed to have on our hands to be creative: Putting aside the recesses, I was particularly fond of drawing and listening to the higher grades recite their lessons.
Following my eight years at the Bloomingdale grade school I attended the Huntington Mills High School, about five miles or so from my house after a mile walk to the corner country store to catch the school bus. Huntington, as we called it, was also a small school, perhaps around 150 in the whole H.S., with 19 in my graduating class. At Huntington we entered either the “agricultural” or “academic” stream, usually by choice, but also by virtue of grades. After two years in the agricultural stream, listening to stories about chickens, hogs and cows, watching John Deere movies, and attending the State Fair, I was ready to try the academic stream. It was my first introduction to a language other than English, with two years of Latin required, as well as other “academic” subjects, including the age-old art of “diagramming” English sentences into their constituent parts.
In 1950, when I graduated from H.S. the Korean War was on. Many of my buddies, including my brother, immediately enlisted, but I decided to go to College instead. I had two reasons. First of all, I had heard that if I could get some college education I would probably be able to enter the service and train to be an officer. But secondly, over half way through with my senior year, I had made a momentous decision. A friend of mine had returned from his stint in the U.S. army in Korea and while there he had become a Christian. The change in his life and attitude made a big impact on me, ignorant as I was about God, Jesus, and the Christian faith. I decided to earnestly read the Bible, of which I understood little, and to pray, which was also foreign to me. In time I was encouraged by a number of people and I made a decision, which I have never regretted, to accept the invitation of Jesus to follow him.
One immediate result was that I decided to switch careers. Up until that point I had wanted to be a baseball player, a coach, or be involved in sports in some way. Now I decided to attend a Christian college and become a missionary. My decision was quite simple, prompted no doubt by the young pastor at our country church who was also interested in missions. However, the war was still on and I was eligible to be drafted. There was, to my later benefit, a deferment clause for those who went to college. As long as a student’s grades were at a satisfactory level he (it was only men who were drafted) could stay out of the army and, on that basis, I managed to elude being conscripted into the armed services.
My choice of a college was a small liberal arts college in Delaware, called The King’s College. Although it was only 250 miles from my home, it might as well have been on the other side of the country. I had no car and very little money. Consequently, I rarely went home. Instead, over the next four years I worked at a variety of jobs during the basketball season, but played varsity soccer and baseball during the fall and spring. I also met my future wife at the college. Aside from those accomplishments, I cannot say that college was especially educational, at least in the expected sense. I had trouble figuring out what to choose as a “major”, regretfully it was eventually psychology, but in the process I considered English literature and biology, both of which I enjoyed.
After college I decided to attend a one-year missionary medical training course in California, so at the end of the summer of 1954 (which I spent working in Detroit) I took a long Greyhound bus trip to LA. It was at the BIOLA School of Missionary Medicine that I first began to enjoy learning (studying had never been difficult for me) and to see some practical purpose for my education. One motivating factor was that doctors, who donated their time and taught most of the courses were excellent motivators and communicators. It was also at BIOLA that I was first introduced to the writings of C.S. Lewis, a man who conveyed the Christian faith in a way that challenged my interest and faith. Although Lewis was obviously an intellectual heavyweight, a man who was renowned as a scholar and a Christian apologetic, his writings made sense to me and they have continued to play a large part in my spiritual understanding and development.
The next phase of my education and training took place within the context of SIL, to which I will return later. First, however, I would like to outline briefly my personal philosophy and perspective.
What I believe arises from my personal encounter with God, in particular through my understanding of his commandments and teachings, but also, as I have already mentioned, from my cultural heritage. In regard to my parents, my father, although a tradesman, was widely read and practiced what would be called today “life-long learning.” He loved to study — languages, music, religions and philosophy — as well as to write and sketch. But he was also a man given to anger and, eventually, to drink, both of which affected the way he interacted with his family. Nevertheless, his abilities and intellectual curiosity form an obvious and important part of my background. My mother was a trained as a teacher and taught the primary grades for over 30 years. She placed education within the sphere of community service and, as such, was an example to all who knew her.
To summarize my personal philosophy I will frame a series of comments and questions about God, humans, reality, knowledge, and morality.
The first question is the most important: What do I believe about God’s nature, his existence, and his-preexistence? My answers will affect my lifestyle and the things that I value most in my life. At the same time, my naturalistic culture abounds to such an extent that I sometimes confuse God with his creation. I can honestly enjoy creation because it is something that God has done, but I do not believe that I am meant to worship what God (or man) has created.
Further, in my view of God, what do terms like holiness, justice, love, grace, the trinity, incarnation, and so on, mean? The basic and fundamental propositions that arise from my understanding of such concepts suggest that God has certain characteristics. I can therefore strive to know who He is and why He exists. My understanding is fortified by what has been recorded in the Scriptures. I say this because I do not want my worldview about God to be constructed in a vacuum or to be a figment of my imagination. I want to interpret causation on the basis of my understanding of God’s presence in my life and in the universe.
But am I free to do what I wish in life, or are parts of it, in some sense, determined for me? What are the views that I hold on death and existence? And why is the punishment of individuals and mankind necessary? My understanding about my nature is found in what Pascal wrote: [that man] “is the glory and the rubbish of the universe,” suggesting that somehow we can tell the difference. I would claim that people’s actions and motives can only be understood in terms of the doctrine of sin, because apart from God each human is a “divided self.” I have a sinful appetite that is never satisfied, such that I am driven, in the words of Kierkegaard, into the arms of the Father. I am only truly human, rather than animal, when I acknowledge the existence of God and the necessity for him to be the most meaningful part of my life.
Social scientists and philosophers want to know if things exist and, further, how they, or anyone, can know for sure. They question if there is purpose in the universe, perhaps seeing themselves as the subjects of an impersonal and mechanistic set of forces, put into operation by chance. But how can there be any reality prior to creation other than from God? I therefore view creation as ordered and reflecting divine activities, rather than being random and circumstantial. I therefore reject and avoid the postmodern conclusion that there is no reality other than what we ourselves create. For me, reality exists because God exists.
But why do I assume that there is reason and common sense and that these will lead us into truth? Further, how can there be truth apart from what God reveals? That is, how can anyone claim to discover truth apart from a revelation from God? What is essential, in terms of knowledge, for Christians, and hence for me, is the claim that God reveals himself. Even some linguists, who do not claim to be Christians, acknowledge that some knowledge is innate. It does not arise from the senses, but is somehow intuitive (or in animals, instinctive). Perhaps God is an innate concept in the human mind from birth, causing humans to ask questions like, ‘Who am I,?” ‘Why am I here,?’ or ‘Who/ What is in control?’ Knowledge then is personally directed in a search for meaning and reality, and both are found for me in God.
Finally, why are some actions considered as right and others wrong? Why is there a universal principle that considers an act like murder to be morally wrong? And further, what place does moral or cultural relativism play in the picture? There seem to be universal moral laws, with specific moral applications in all societies. Such principles seem to be universal, even if somewhat vague. For example, why does love seem more appealing than lust in a system of ethics? In situational ethics love may lie, steal, fornicate, blaspheme, or do whatever is convenient and satisfactory at the moment. Nevertheless, we hear the rider added, “as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone.” But such actions are bound to hurt someone and love in and of itself is insufficient to provide moral guidance. It requires specification in terms of rules and principles. So in terms of absolute moral laws, God alone provides a model that can be considered universal in application and scope.
These basic questions and their answers provide a rudimentary outline of my personal philosophy and influence the way I view language and culture.
The SIL context
My wife and I attended our first summer of linguistics at the University of Oklahoma in 1956, beginning our studies just ten days after we were married. It was our first introduction to linguistics and to the academic and intellectual ethos of SIL. Professor Kenneth Pike, who was to play an important part in our lives later, conducted seminars, mentored teachers, gave chapels, and generally inspired (or intimidated) everyone. In 1957 we returned to SIL Oklahoma for our second summer of studies, the advanced course. Between our first and second summers we spent five months of practical training with SIL in Mexico.
In the 1950s and up until the 1980s, the Oklahoma SIL was in its heydays, with hundreds of students each summer, newly trained PhD instructors, and other personnel assisting, most who were fresh from countries in Latin America and South America. It was a stimulating and challenging environment for any motivated student. Our own motivation came from a desire to be involved in Bible translation, so we greatly benefited from the training. In early 1958 we left the US for our assignment in Papua New Guinea (PNG).
We were assigned to work with the East Kewa people in the Southern Highlands of what was then called Papua. In July and August of 1958 Harland Kerr (who, with his wife, later settled to work with the adjacent Wiru people) and I had surveyed the area and in October my wife and I went to live in the hamlet of Muli, where we resided, for the most part, until late 1962.
However, the technical needs of SIL in PNG were such that I had assisted in a language survey and provided language learning materials in Tolai (Franklin and Kerr 1962) and had taken part in two language learning courses that we ran for the government. The surveys, language learning materials, and courses were in conjunction with an agreement between SIL and the PNG government. I was fortunate in having Harland Kerr and Alan Healey as consultants and mentors during my first term in PNG.
In PNG during 1961 Pike came to run a linguistic workshop, assisting with over 20 language projects. He consulted with my wife and me on Kewa, the language we were studying, as well as training a number of us to be consultants. Over the few months that Pike was in PNG we came to know him reasonably well and at the end of the period he asked me if I was interested in graduate studies. I told him that I doubted that I could get into graduate school. Hs reply, “What school would you like to go to?” I decided on Cornell University and, with the help of Pike’s letter to the chairman of the Linguistics Department, began studies there on our first furlough in 1963. At the Pike workshop my wife and I had worked on Kewa phonology (Franklin and Franklin 1962) and I wrote papers on ethnolinguistic concepts (Franklin 1963) and morphology (Franklin 1964).
There were other SIL members at Cornell at the time I studied there and I benefited from their encouragement and assistance – I think in particular of Bill Merrifield and Don Stark. But I also learned at Cornell that SIL brought something to the table that other students often did not, namely field experience and field data. Our work in Kewa paid off: every term paper in linguistics and anthropology (e.g. Franklin 1965a) was based on materials that we had collected.
While at Cornell I worked for Professor Charles Hockett, first teaching phonetics and then later assisting in grading papers and helping with his personal library. My courses were all in linguistics and anthropology, except for German, which I first failed, then passed by grace. I finished my MA course work in one calendar year, wrote a short thesis (Franklin 1965b), and went again to Oklahoma SIL, this time to teach. While at the SIL Pike asked me to go to New Zealand the following year to start the first SIL summer course. My wife and I did that in December of 1965, but first we returned to PNG, fully intending to reestablish our work in the East Kewa. (We also headed up the New Zealand SIL in 1966-67.)
However, the SIL branch in PNG was growing rapidly and it was necessary to establish the office of an Associate Director for Language Affairs. I was chosen and for the next two years my wife and I worked out of the Eastern Highlands, at the SIL Ukarumpa headquarters. This was a valuable experience for me in that I was able to visit over 30 different language communities in which SIL members worked. We were able to make occasional trips to the Kewa area and to do some limited writing and research (Franklin 1967). During this time Professor Stephen Wurm from the Australian National University in Canberra, Australia, visited PNG on a language survey and invited me to apply for a scholarship to ANU. I took up studies in early 1967, following our work in administration and leading the NZ SIL again.
At ANU a fellow student was Tom Dutton, who had been one of our government students in PNG. Tom became a close friend and we graduated together in 1969. I wrote a grammar of West Kewa (Franklin 1971) and published a dialect study of the Kewa area (Franklin 1968). Professors Wurm and Bert Voorhoeve were my main supervisors and my examiners were Professors Howard McKaughan (University of Hawaii), Ralph Bulmer (Foundation Professor of Anthropology at UPNG), and Andy Pawley (now at ANU, then at Auckland University in NZ). Each of these men was helpful in my linguistic studies and career.
Besides my dissertation studies, I had decided, for a number of reasons, to do research and application (literacy and translation) in the West Kewa area, in the hamlet of Usa. Our family lived there in stretches, one up to a year in length, from 1967 through 1972, although we spent several months in Pennsylvania in late 1969 and early 1970. While there I revised part of my dissertation for publication (Franklin 1972) and broadened my education by serving as a substitute teacher in a local high school! In 1970 I received a post-doctorate fellowship from ANU and led a survey into the Gulf Province and adjacent areas (Franklin, ed. 1973).
Successive periods of time were spent in administration as director of the PNG work (1972-76; 80-82), teaching at SILs in Australia, surveys (Manus Province), and establishing a National Training Course at Ukarumpa. While director of SIL I also proposed a broad language family strategy plan (Franklin 1976), but it was poorly communicated and administered and few teams were responsive to it. It resurfaces from time to time as a new idea!
In 1990 we left PNG permanently. This followed a couple of previous long absences when we spent six years at Dallas (1976-1979 and 1983-1986) working with SIL International, first as Linguistics Coordinator, and later as Anthropology Coordinator. Leaving PNG was difficult, due to the close associations we had with our colleagues and PNG friends. Besides, our children were born there, our son was married there, and three of our grandchildren were also born there.
The Kewa language and culture
It would be misleading to skip lightly over the part that the Kewa people have played in our lives. This is how I summarized it (in Language and Faith, WBT and SIL, 1972, pp. 89-91):
“I’ve learned a good deal from the Kewas. They appreciate all things in nature and they have taught me to look around and enjoy the world God has created. As I’ve watched the Kewas in their times of trial and sickness I’ve also learned that we have it pretty easy in our society. Our children have brought us an acceptance among the people. As far as the Kewas are concerned, people aren’t really married until they have children. They measure a person’s importance by the number of children he has. Since we have only two, we’re of only medium importance.”
We have outlined aspects of the Kewa language and culture in numerous publications, but the following (taken from “Final Kewa Program Report,” Karl and Joice Franklin, April 1990) gives a summary of the project:
In the early 1950’s, the first government patrols visited the Kewa area. The Erave station was established in 1953 and the Ialibu station in 1955, but it was not until 1957 that the Kagua station was begun.
In August 1958, Karl Franklin and Harland Kerr visited the Southern Highlands to investigate twin allocations in adjoining languages, the Kewa and Wiru. At that time most of the Kewa area was classified by the government as `restricted’. The government officers at both Ialibu and Kagua stations in the East Kewa dialect suggested that the Franklins allocate in Muli, the nearest derestricted Kewa hamlet out of Ialibu, some four hours hike from the station. In October, Joice and Karl moved to Muli and commenced language learning monolingually. They lived there until their first furlough in 1963.
Upon the Franklin’s return to the then Territory of New Guinea in 1964, Karl was elected SIL’s Associate Director, necessitating the Franklins be resident at Ukarumpa, SIL’s field headquarters. Australians Kevin and Margaret Newton were as signed to study the East Kewa language and they moved to Muli in 1964. They did some preliminary linguistic and translation work.
However, in 1966 Karl was offered a scholarship to study at Australian National University (ANU). Rev. Norman Imbrock of the Lutheran Mission who had been stationed at Wabi in the West Kewa dialect area since 1959, invited the Franklins to work in this dialect. In 1967 the Franklins moved to Usa, some 50 miles west of Muli and about 7 miles from Wabi. Karl’s studies at ANU involved writing a dissertation on the Kewa grammar and studying the dialects of Kewa. The Franklins spent time in the Kewa and Canberra areas for the next two years.
In the meantime the Newtons resigned from SIL in 1968 because of SIL’s stated goal to work with all missions, including Catholics. SIL did not replace the Newtons with another team in the East Kewa dialect. It was hoped that the West Kewa literacy and New Testament materials would be suitable for both dialects, but that has not proven to be possible due to the reading difficulties caused by differing linguistic word forms.
The Franklins lived in Usa until 1972 when the Kewa New Testament was completed. During that time they also did linguistic and anthropological research and literacy development. All of their language-related activities depended upon capable and dependable help from a number of Kewa people, mostly from the village of Usa.
The Franklins have been involved in SIL administration and consultant work since 1972. For six years (1976-79; 1983-86) they were absent from PNG and served in the SIL International administration. During this time they taught at several SIL schools as well. Towards the end of 1989, Karl and Joice felt that the time had come to leave PNG after 32 years of service. They were then offered a training administrative role in the PNG Branch but they had already made the decision to leave.
In mid-1989, they were approached by the SIL South Pacific Area director to head up the SPSIL school. They declined, but with some changes in the administration of the school and with the lack of a Ph.D. available to liaison with LaTrobe University, the Franklins felt led to accept the position for 2-3 years until a designated man completes his Ph.D. studies. They left PNG the middle of 1990 to begin their new assignment after furlough, July 1991
The importance of a vision
Most of us involved in the work of SIL have been motivated by our vision to see the Bible translated into the language of the common people. We have had churches and friends supply our needs by forwarding money regularly through the Wycliffe Bible Translators. But some of us did not understood or realize the importance of the SIL academic context and ethos and how this would change our worldviews of Christian mission and service. Therefore I am grateful for this emphasis, direction and motivation that SIL has provided.
In PNG I had a number of goals during our work with the Kewa people, as well as a certain vision. The goals were in respect to technical requirements, relationships with communities, the churches and the government officers. The vision was in respect to what I hoped would happen: an on-going literacy and translation development, the promotion of the vernacular by the missions and government, and Kewa people who had confidence and pride in their language and culture.
Once we left the Kewa area in 1972 our goals and vision changed to more broadly represent the work of SIL in PNG. One immediate goal was to establish a group of national advisors for the work of SIL, what was then called the SIL Advisory Council, but which was later incorporated to become the PNG Bible Translation Association. The organization continues, but with an expanded and appropriate vision of its own. My vision was to also have a language program established on a language family or cluster basis, rather than have SIL workers in individual, and often closely related, languages. One SIL worker, after experience, would then become the trainer and facilitator for a related group of languages. Although I believe this vision is still possible and necessary, it has seldom been implemented by SIL in PNG.
A further vision I had, shared by many SIL colleagues in PNG, but particularly Bruce Hooley and Bob Litteral, as well as by national colleagues like Tom Polume and David Gela, was to establish a recognized training course for Bible translation and literacy. This program was begun by Bob Litteral, David Gela and myself in 1980, but it built on earlier “Lahara” (summer) courses held at the University of Papua New Guinea and some of the Teachers Colleges. It continues, but is now managed and directed by BTA, with a greatly expanded set of subjects and courses.
From 1991 to 1994, as already mentioned, my wife and I were assigned to the South Pacific SIL to head up the school. We continued there with a vision of an integrated program, combining faith and learning in a manner that would be a model for students in their work in other countries. Integral to the program was an emphasis on training across cultures, trying to encourage the mindset that the students would become facilitators and trainers.
Once we had returned to the US in 1994 my wife and I were assigned to the International Administration of SIL as the Training Coordinator, responsible for the oversight of SIL’s training programs around the world. During the next couple of years I visited our training programs in the US, Europe, and the Pacific. We continued in that role until I was appointed the Vice President of Academic Affairs in 1996. Soon after that, and in response to the current situation at the Texas SIL, David Ross, who was the director, and I envisioned a revision and reorientation of the Texas school. The new school, reconstituted from the Texas SIL, would be called the Graduate Institute of Applied Linguistics. David Ross, as the founding President outlined a plan that was submitted to the SIL Board of Directors in November 1997. It was approved by the Board and an independent school, called GIAL, was started.
Shortly after this, I expressed my own hopes in terms of a “dream” or vision for the future of GIAL:
I would like to explore two questions that I hope will assist us as we continue work in TXSIL and as we pursue accreditation for GIAL: What is it about a school that makes it uniquely “Christian” and, further, what makes it “academic”? How are the two combined in a natural way? Or is the very nature of Christianity so supernatural in principle that it cannot be uniquely combined with education and academics at all? What, to put it in idealistic terms, is our dream for education at an SIL school? In GIAL I see us building upon the initial training stage that equips students to do particular tasks, into the more difficult position of challenging students to think and act uniquely like Christians as they do their tasks in a cross-cultural setting.
Of course some colleges and universities have struggled with this problem since they first started. Harvard college, for example was founded in 1636 with the express purpose “that students might be free to know truth and life in relation to Jesus Christ.” Thus, the early mottoes were Veritas (Truth, 1643), In Christi Gloriam (To the Glory of Christ, 1550), and Christo et Ecclesiae (For Christ and the Church, 1692).
Here then is the “dream” for GIAL that I presented to its faculty at an orientation session in 1997:
1. Dream point one:
I have a dream that one day, not long from now, we will have a graduate school functioning in which every student is equipped to become a trainer and consultant. That the focus will be on the dispersal of sound knowledge, expertly crafted, and molded with an attitude of love for the people with whom it is to be shared.
A graduate school is supposed to take undergraduate students further in their thinking and argumentation than they have been to date. In this respect graduate training is more than obtaining a credential, encouraging the students to think creatively, practicing research and writing, and generally performing at a more intense and advanced level than at the undergraduate level. Whereas previously their training focused upon facts and figures, content and its mastery, grades and grade point averages, the graduate school challenges its students to ask difficult questions, to engage in research and writing, as well as to interact with other scholars. We would also like their learning to be enjoyable, but that should have occurred at the undergraduate level as well. Of course there are other definitions of graduate and undergraduate schools. I was told at Cornell that I would know I was in an undergraduate course if, in response to the teacher’s, “Good morning” (this was the old days, remember), there was a reply in kind. If on the other hand, everyone wrote “Good morning” down, then it was graduate.
We also need an attitude of love. Isn’t good scholarship, regardless of attitude, enough? And, what might an attitude of love employ? The answers should be familiar to us: knowledge and understanding are useless without love; so even an inspiring teacher who has no real love for students does not provide what I have in mind. Even selfless actions achieve no spiritual good without love. You can identify the source of these observations: A teacher who has love is patient and kind, is not conceited and jealous. Teachers who love their students are not ill-mannered and they do not keep records of wrongs. Our best examples of knowledge and inspired teaching cannot last, since they are only partial, and only what is done in love has any lasting value as far as God is concerned.
But why should this be so? If we have competent teachers, why should be care if they are arrogant and grumpy? Isn’t competency enough? If we have teachers who are known by their published papers and the conferences they attend, won’t that suffice? No, because only when our work is done in love do we represent Christian academic scholarship accurately and adequately. This is summed up well in I John3.18: “My children, our love should not be just words and talk; it must be true love, which shows itself in action.”
2. Dream point two:
I dream that we will provide an education that holds to the highest standards appropriate and possible and that it does so in a context where God is recognized as the source of the wisdom.
We would not want to claim or assert that only in GIAL will students acknowledge that God is the source of wisdom. In fact, and as C.S. Lewis states, (1952.75) “One of the reasons why it needs no special education to be a Christian is that Christianity is an education itself. That is why an uneducated believer like Bunyan was able to write a book that has astonished the whole world.” Education and learning are a part of a life-long process, only one part of which is formal schooling.”
There is a need to reconcile our culture’s faith in higher education and our faith in God. The former has been claimed to solve all of the world’s problems. All we need is more education on a particular topic, all we need are is more people who understand the issues or circumstances better, all we need is more intelligent people…. I am sure that you have heard similar statements. But education is fickle and changing. On the other hand the one in whom we have faith “changes not.” We are not going to arrive at philosophical conclusions about the nature of language and culture that are not already suggested in the Scriptures. We believe, for example, that there is order in language, just as that there is order in the universe, and that neither are the result of chance and accident. God created both. We believe that there is a reality in the universe and that we do not construct it. It follows that we don’t want to promote a type of learning that is exclusive of God.
This is because we acknowledge that God is the source of all wisdom (James 1.5), and that all of us lack it to some degree. Nevertheless, wisdom calls to us (Proverbs 1.20-33) and the rewards of finding it are great (2.1-22). Wisdom is also to be praised (Proverbs 8) because it will help us who follow it to be mature, as well as to have good insight and understanding. It will help rulers to govern with good laws and justice. It will help teachers teach with good manners and substance. Wisdom is to be sought for diligently and it is to be praisedwhen found.
And how does one get wisdom? Is it primarily through education? No, the source of wisdom is God. And when God is seen as the source the education takes on a different perspective.
It is important to notice that in the Scriptures (not in our culture) wisdom is also associated with humility and with happiness: The man who listens to me will be happy (8.34a). Far too often in our experience we must correlate learning (not wisdom) with arrogance and pride. Without humility and happiness is the glee of a scholar may simply be to reduce his opponent to ashes.
3. Dream point three:
I dream that the emphasis will not be on how quickly we can train, but how well we do it. And in the process the students, staff and supporters will learn to think and act like Christians.
We are reminded by men like Harry Blamires (1963) that it is not easy to think like a Christian. Blamires states that “as a thinking being, the modern Christian has succumbed to secularization…. There is no shared field of discourse in which we can move at ease as thinking Christians by trodden ways and past established landmarks.” (4) Blamire is warning us that we are at the mercy of our secularized colleagues, we use their terminology and begin with their assumptions But as Blamires warns us, “They will think pragmatically, politically, but not Christianly.” (14) Another of his comments can serves as a warning about GIAL as well – something that we do not want to do: “We put aside talk of vocation, or God’s Providence, or man’s spiritual destiny, and instead chattered with the rest about productivity, assembly-line psychology, and deployment of personnel.” (38) We must then ask ourselves as teachers: what then is the thinking Christian supposed to be talking about? According to Blamire, “The thinker challenges prejudices… disturbs the complacent… obstructs the busy pragmatists… questions the very foundations of all about him, and in so doing throws doubt upon aims, motives and purposes which those who are running affairs have neither time nor patience to investigate. The thinker is a nuisance.” (50) The evidence is, by the latter definition, that we have a lot of thinkers in SIL.
Now lest some of us think that being a nuisance is your call in life, we should remember that the thinker is one who understands the nature of the subject, the issues, and is able to frame an argument that is not based bias and emotion. In short, we should be searching for the truth, for as Blamire says so well, “truth is supernaturally grounded, not developed within nature; it is objective, revealed, discovered by inquiry and … it is authoritative.” (107)
4. Dream point four:
I dream of young people who learn how to do literacy, translation, sociolinguistics and ethnology, in a context and manner that will fill them with excitement as they anticipate applying their learning and sharing it in other cultures.
E. Stanley Jones, a great missionary earlier this century in India, was a personal friend of Gandhi. He once asked Gandhi how the missionaries could make Christianity more natural and less foreign in India, such that they were not automatically identified with a foreign government and perceived as foreign people. How could they become a part of the national life of India and contribute to its power and uplift? Gandhi, as Jones recounts, had this to say: “First, I would suggest that all of you Christians, missionaries and all, must begin to live more like Jesus Christ. Second, practice your religion without adulterating it or toning it down. Third, emphasize love and make it your working force, for love is essential in Christianity. Fourth, study the non-Christian religions more sympathetic to find the good that is within them, in order to have a more sympathetic approach to the people.” (1948.51-52).3
Jones’ friendship with Gandhi should surely remind us of Cameron Townsend and the example that he also set for SIL members by having friendships with secular government officials. Uncle Cam had five main values that he wanted exemplified in SIL and WBT, and serving governments was one of them. I have heard our core values repeated in various ways, but Rick Brown (in InterCom, April-August, 1998) recounts them as follows:
- Make the Bible available in all languages
- Use an academic and scientific approach in linguistics
- Pioneer and go where others have not completed work
- Serve everyone
- Operate by faith in God to accomplish the impossible
We need to remind ourselves of our core values, for they are the substance and life of any successful organization. In Built to Last the authors suggest a dynamic interplay is necessary between the core ideology of an organization and the drove that it has for progress. Their chart (p. 85) summarizes the process as follows:
|Core Ideology||Drive for Progress|
|Provides continuity and stability||Urges continual change (new directions, new methods, new strategies, and so on)|
|Plants a relatively fixed stake in the ground||Impels constant movement (toward goals, improvement, an envisioned form, etc.)|
|Limits possibilities and directions for the||Expands the number and variety of possibilities|
|company (to those consistent with the||that the company can consider|
|content of the ideology)|
|Has clear content (“This is our core||Can be content-free (“Any progress is good as long|
|ideology and we will not breach it”)||as it is consistent with our core”)|
|Installing a core ideology is, by its very||Expressing the drive for progress can lead to|
|nature a conservative act dramatic, radical, and revolutionary change|
5. Dream point five:
I dream of veteran field workers, renewed as they interact with young, enthusiastic colleagues and experienced, capable staff.
I don’t know when the expression “burn out” entered the English language, but it has caught on well. I suppose my grandfather who toiled on the farm from daybreak to sunset could have claimed burnout, or even my mother, who taught school for 33 years and raised a family. Or perhaps that is what Paul had when he recounts his experiences that are recorded in 2Cor 11.22-33: whippings, prison, stoning, shipwrecked, dangers of all kinds, pressure, hunger, thirst, distress, it is all there. But I would still want a veteran like that around as my mentor. Timothy was taught by Paul. We who are veterans have the opportunity to not only teach, but also to mentor younger colleagues. They are fresh with their enthusiasm and desire to serve God.
When I was a student in college I studied abnormal psychology. After I graduated from college I attended the School of Missionary Medicine in California, where one of our assignments was to work in various hospitals. We all dreaded the geriatric hospital, where wards of the State were put to live out their last days. These people were often alone, without family, living on the edge of reality, unable to have purpose or much dignity in life. It was a sobering experience and one which I have never forgotten. Sometimes the patients were veterans, with war stories, but I would have never taken anyone to that hospital if I wanted to recruit for the armed services.
6. Dream point six:
I dream of a place where nationals can train with citizens of the US and other countries, mentoring us on what God has taught them, challenging us through the power of the Holy Spirit, and becoming equipped with the tools to do their academic work. I dream that the interaction and nationals who train at GIAL will be an example of fellowship and love.
We have few citizens of other countries training at GIAL now because of the difficulty of getting appropriate visas. But we expect the situation to change and we want nationals from other countries here to study with us. For it is through contact with people from other countries and cultures that our own experiences and knowledge is broadened. Without this contact we see Christianity only through our own cultural glasses and we teach through them as well. It is similar to what Leslie Newbigin (1989) says about Christian art. “If one looks at the long history of Christian art one can see in successive portraits of Jesus the self-portrait of the age – the Byzantine picture of Jesus as the supreme Emperor,… the medieval picture of the pain-drenched figure on the cross, the blond, fair-haired boy of the Anglo-Saxon Protestant ideal, and Liberator Christ modeled on the Che Guevara. In each case the figure of Jesus has been so painted as to fit the reigning cultural ideal.” (141-2)
Our teaching and equipping of nationals must be sensitive and knowledgeable about the cultural climate in other parts of the world because everything, including the Gospel, is embedded in culture. Nationals will take back to their countries not only their newly acquired skills, but relationships with people they meet here as well.
7. Dream point seven:
I also have dream for the faculty, for the men and women with credentials, that they will be wholly dedicated to the service of God; that they will have servant attitudes that would distill any possible academic arrogance or competition.
Pascal is quoted as saying that humankind is the glory and the rubbish of the universe. We could say the same about the faculty at some of our universities. All of us, our goals and our contributions can only be understood in terms of the doctrine of sin. Our appetites are never satisfied and each human has been described as a divided self. Only Christ brings the unity of spirit and heart that is essential at a Christian school.
We need to acclaim the accomplishments of our colleagues, not resent them. We need to assist the weaker colleague in research and writing, not ignore them. As an example of humility examine the Corporation SIL bibliography sometime and notice how many articles the Pikes have co-authored. And see how many times their name is not put first. This demonstrates the servant attitude.
Harold J. Berman, who is the Ames Professor of Law Emeritus at Harvard, claims that in the sciences and humanities little recognition is given that God exists. “Our intellectual life,” he says, “our thinking, has been largely divorced from or religious faith.” Further, he states “The wisdom of the world assumes that God’s existence is irrelevant to knowledge and that truth is discoverable by the human mind unaided by the Holy Spirit.” (1966.293). Christian wisdom, however discovers the relationship between what we know and what God intends for us, and it does it with the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
In all of our search for the knowledge and truth in this world we who are Christians see God himself as the subject of our scholarship. We freely acknowledge that we seek God’s purposes in this world and in our lives. This is humbling because our own intellects are incapable of knowing his purposes. But it can remove pride of intellect from us for, as Berman reminds us, “Pride of intellect is the besetting sin of the modern university,” often in the form of a Professor’s skepticism. And yet as Christians we have an intellectual heritage that is a direct result of our religious tradition. William J. Bennet put it like this: “Everyone, including ‘First Amendment’ liberals, agnostics and atheists, must concede that the Judeo-Chrisitan tradition is a major formative influence on American life, on our law, ideals and principles as a free people. Even a rudimentary knowledge of American history makes that clear.” (1992.206)
8. Dream point eight:
I also dream that God will raise up a body of financial supporters, people convinced of the goals of GIAL, and who will promote it widely.
I have noticed that programs in any organization are less subject to criticism if they are self-supporting. They can even be poorly conceived or managed programs. They can be redundant and poorly evaluated. However, if there are substantial requests for Corporate funding, the programs are scrutinized more carefully. C. Northcote Parkinson saw it differently: He termed it the “Law of Triviality” and stated it like this: “the time spent on any item of the agenda will be in reverse proportion of the sum involved.” (1957.60) In his amusing example the particular Board of directors quickly discusses and grants a request for 10 million pounds for an atomic reactor, because they have no idea what they are talking about, but spend considerable time on the bicycle shed for 350 pounds. Every one understands the smaller sum. We are perhaps more like the bicycle shed than the atomic reactor specialists. But we do know that setting up GIAL and maintaining it will cost money and that we will have to rely upon outside resources to help support it.
9. Dream point nine:
I dream of a fully funded program, with scholarships for students, money to support visiting professors, staff who are fully supported, a program that is financially blessed by God. And most of all, I dream that we will not have to beg for the money.
Kenneth L. Pike, one of our most esteemed leaders, has allowed us to use his name for an Endowment Fund (see http://www.sil.org/klp/ ) His name is also on the Pike Building (but he drew the line years ago at allowing us to name a road after him), so we have much evidence of the Pikes influence. Few of us probably know how he has used the royalties from his books over the years to assist in academic publications and other academic matters in SIL. In this quiet endeavor he has been much like C.S. Lewis was in the establishment of his estate and the use of his royalties for benevolent purposes. Lewis did not die a rich man, but he could have. Pike will not die a rich man, but he has enriched all of us. The Endowment bearing his name will assist students and staff in academic research and publications. And ultimately it is our hope that it will assist GIAL as well.
10. Dream point ten:
I dream that Wycliffe Bible Translators, the International Linguistics Center, JAARS, The Seed Company, Wycliffe Associates and other like-minded organizations will support the vision, programs and goals of GIAL.
The WBT and SIL separation of the 90s, including separate Boards (with some overlapping board members), the resulting administrative growth of WBTI, the secondment processes that have resulted, and other factors have combined to make us thing of ourselves differently. My colleagues from WBTUS say, “You people in SIL are…”, or those of us assigned to SIL talk about WBT almost like we are not a part of it. The possibility of co-locating WBTUS on the ILC campus caused a stir, so they moved to Orlando, Florida. We seemed to be afraid of losing our autonomy, perhaps our academic integrity.
I don’t think it will work for us to consider ourselves as simply separate entities, even if this is legally the case. I am a member of SIL and of WBT, both are important in my life and in my assignment.
11. Dream point eleven:
I dream that the academic tradition of our great scholastic leaders, the Pikes, Nida, Gudshinsky, Longacre, Pittman, Grimes, Bendor-Samuels, Healeys, and many, many others, will be appreciated as our “throng of witnesses”, our faithful academic and spiritual leaders.
I studied under the Pikes, Joe Grimes, Sarah Gudshinsky, Bob Longacre, and have taught with or under Alan and Phyllis Healey and John Bendor-Samuel, so I have been helped by them. Today’s generation of SIL scholars is equally important and well known. Many at GIAL have already had a profound influence on their students and colleagues. We should not dismiss lightly the responsibility that God has given the faculty at GIAL.
Ken Pike (1962) tells how he had to think through his commitment to Christ on the one hand and his honesty to scientific fact on the other hand. We too, as applied linguists, must be concerned about our personal faith and our thinking. The “great commandment” in Mt. 22.37 commands us to Love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our mind. In Mk 12.30 the word strength is added, while in Lk 10.27 the components are heart, soul, strength and mind. All of these Gospels are quoting Deut 6.4,5: The LORD – and the LORD alone – is our God. Love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.
The question that we should ask ourselves is this: Are we integrating our devotion and our scholarship? Our emotions and our mind? Our personalities and our wisdom? What gifts and abilities has Christ, through His Spirit, given us and how are we using them to help others?
In June Joice and I had the opportunity to visit Dick Pittman, dying of cancer at Waxhaw. We have known him since we were assigned to PNG in 1957. He and Jim Dean were responsible for opening the PNG SIL Branch. Dick has been a scholar who also has done government relations in many countries, so he has friends around the world. As we visited with him, despite his pain (he was in a wheelchair), his concern was about how things were going at the conference we were attending, about mutual friends, even about linguistics. He was an example of devotion and scholarship.
12. Dream point twelve:
I dream that those trained elsewhere in SIL will enthusiastically support GIAL, proud that we are determined to have an accredited Institution.
The pride of any school is its graduates. SIL has trained thousands of thousands around the world and its reputation is well known. When we were in the process of applying for accreditation for SPSIL by the State Training Board of Victoria, we visited a man who had to examine our credentials. After he had looked at our documentation he said, “Are you affiliated with that American SIL group?” I didn’t know what he had in mind, but I told him of our relationship. He then explained that he had attended the University of Michigan, studied English and knew of Pike and SIL. He readily accepted our credentials because they were supported by the parent organization. We would like GIAL to have that same kind of world-wide reputation and acceptance, with graduates around the world who are recognized as capable fieldworkers.
13. A final bit of dream:
But most of all I dream – no I pray – that God will clearly direct this effort. That He will enable us to laugh at impossibilities, be merciful to us in His grace, and guard us from mistakes that would dishonor Him
We can often best see how God has led us by looking backward. We believe and have faith that He will lead in the future as GIAL progresses because it is obvious how He has led in the past. In the training history of SIL it spread from a humble renovated chicken coop in Arkansas to its present locations around the world. We can look at its past teachers, noting scholars who have contributed to journals and publications around the world. We also look at its graduates, who are scattered around the world with many organizations. Because of all this we can have confidence of what God is going to do it the future.
A number of years ago I read a small book that had the delightful title, The Man Who Could Do No Wrong, but I shuddered as I read it. Everything went so well for the man: he had a vision, he raised money, he built larger and larger churches, but in the end he failed. He believed that God was leading him every step of the way, even as he finally bankrupted the church. We can do wrong. We can make the wrong decisions, even with the best of motives. We need wisdom and guidance to stay in God’s limits and boundaries. But we can also be afraid to act, powerless to try anything, and lack in faith.
What can protect us? Only prayer, to the LORD of the harvest, will bring the right kinds of students with the right kind of motive. Only prayer will produce the right kind of faculty with the right kind of service. Only prayer will protect us from crucial mistakes. Only prayer will give us courage for the future. Let us pray.
Some aspects of this dream have already become true: the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board has granted GIAL license to grant degrees and a submission has been made for the full Southern Association of Schools and Colleges accreditation, a process that will take several years. Other aspects of it have yet to be realized, particularly recognizing the particular distinctions and obligations of a training institution devoted to the practical aspects of linguistics such as Bible translation, literacy, language analysis and development, data management, as well as language and culture learning.
Summing it up
Proverbs Chapter 15 ends up with this verse: “Reverence for the LORD is an education in itself. You must be humble before you can receive honors.” This is a tough but necessary lesson for academics to learn, as well as to remind students of. Our primary purpose in life is to demonstrate – by the way we live and by what we think – that God is to be revered. He is grater than us, his thoughts are higher than ours, and his ways are perfect. Again, as we read in Proverbs 16.1: “We may make our plans, but God has the last word.”
We do plan, of course, and we should try to plan well. But we can only do this as we understand our culture, ourselves, and the organizations that we work with. Our culture focuses on technology, prizes materialism and the effects are cumulative throughout our lives. E-mail will not go away, but it will be eventually replaced by some grander scheme of “communication.” The web will not go away, rather it will become the most persistent channel for education and information, but also aversion and greed. The new world will be more multi-cultural and multi-lingual, yet still iconoclastic, self-serving and full of hatred. Future planning will be in a different context.
What place will SIL and GIAL education and training play in the new era, interacting with people who have been raised in the permissive atmosphere of adult (now most often ;meaning obscene) TV, movies, magazines, web sites, and the temptation that results. How will the educational leadership in SIL and GIAL demonstrate their personal integrity and conviction of purpose? Will our mission become so diluted and laodicean that no one will take any notice? The jury is out and has not returned with the verdict.
From, “A Dream for GIAL (and SIL) Education,” given in May, 1998 at the Faculty Retreat
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Built to Last
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Pike, Kenneth L. 1962. With Heart and Mind: A Personal Synthesis of Scholarship and Devotion. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.