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What in the world is a “dissertation” in the School of Intercultural Studies at Fuller Theological Seminary? These are my ideas and answers to that question as I write my dissertation. Critique is most welcome! Alan D. Gordon August 2009
PART I – INTRODUCTION AND REVIEW OF LITERATURE Issue: Communicating the Gospel Cross-Culturally in the Rural Andes of Ecuador Problem: Religious Syncretism (the result of poor communication) Theoretical constructs: (This program is “Inter-disciplinary.”) Comm 1. Communication theory: relevance theory and receptor-oriented EM 2. Ethnomusicological theory: the music event or ritual 3. Anthropological theory: sacred symbols (music) reveal identity and theology Anthro Epist 4. Epistemology: phenomenology in academic research I combined these four constructs into one: Music ritual is one method within phenomenology that can be used to discover the receptor’s frame of reference, which is key to effective communication of the gospel. AnthroEM CommEpist
PART II– RESEARCH METHODOLOGY AND FINDINGS My concept of this dissertation is to “apply” this theoretical construct to a context: AnthroEM CommEpist Communicating the Gospel in the Rural Andes of Ecuador This “applying” is done more than once, and takes place over an extended period of time.
This is how my research developed (as a spiral): Context • Compare evangelical and • indigenous music-rituals. 2006 1. The two are very different! S T R A T E G Y 2007 2. Their mentality is concrete, communal, and identity based. R E S U L T 2. Focus on one indigenous festival. 2008 3. Personal reflection as a 20-year veteran missionary. 3. My mentality is abstract, individual, and proposition based. Analysis Conclusion: a North-American missionary may need to change from an abstract, individualistic, proposition-based mentality to a concrete, communal, identity-based mentality in order to effectively communicate the gospel in the rural Andes of Ecuador. (The Evangelical Church in Ecuador may need to do the same!)
PART III– CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS This “research process” results in a tentative theory: a missionary can use music-ritual to understand a people’s mentality as well as his or her own. Then the missionary must minimize his or her own mentality, and switch to using the people’s mentality in order to communicate the gospel to them. New theory This new theory must now be re-applied to the context to test its validity, and also be applied to a different context to test its generability.
Thus the new theory now replaces the original theoretical construct for further research. New theory AnthroEM CommEpist Context Analysis New theory
DOES THIS MAKE SENSE? WHAT NEEDS TO BE MODIFIED OR CLARIFIED? My dissertation will spell-out the details of all this and discuss it with the literature. This is just the “big-picture.”
MY QUESTION • I have three proposals here: • The dissertation process. • Using music to discover frame of reference. • The difference between the indigenous and missionary mentality. • Which is the “new theory” or do they all go together?