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An Intimate Revelation

Intercultural Bible Reading with Adolescents

Taggert E. Wolverton

An Intimate Revelation chronicles an unprecedented multi-year research project that investigated what happens when adolescents from around the world read and discuss Jesus’ Parable of the Prodigal Son together. The study gathered together adolescent participants, pastoral leaders, and theologians from several countries to read in conversational communities, and these groups then exchanged their interpretations with each other across cultural and religious distinctions. The result is a helpful step forward in understanding how adolescents make meaning when they read the Bible and how the intercultural reading process can spur participants toward spiritual growth.

The book begins by presenting thorough explanations of the foundational concepts of the project before then focusing on each of the groups’ specific experiences through a close examination of their transcripts and written materials. With that foundation laid, a critical analysis of the material investigates signs of spiritual growth as well as the adolescent participants’ ability to function in the process of intercultural communication. The participants’ hermeneutical interpretive grids are presented along with evidence of their ability to create theological applications, and finally the process of intercultural Bible reading is itself compared to the characteristics of effective youth ministry as a hopeful ally in the development of the next generation’s spirituality.

As a report on the only study of its kind to empirically observe adolescent Bible readers participating in an intercultural reading process, these pages offer insight and motivation to pastoral leaders, theologians, and anyone else questioning how to connect this globally aware generation to a vibrant faith.

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3 The Research Method


. 3 .

The Research Method

To the naked eye, while a hummingbird is flying its wings are for all intents and purposes completely invisible. We hear what we assume to be the drone of its moving wings while it darts through the air, and when the bird finally comes to a standstill as it rests on a branch we can see the wings tucked up close to its body which leads us to reasonably assume they are the means of its spectacular flight. Yet finding the exact means of how it flies was a bit of a mystery until a team of biologists from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill used high-speed X-ray cameras to view the process as it happened. When they slowed down the video, it became apparent that hummingbirds produce lift not only on the downward stroke of their wings (as do most birds), but also on the upstroke by inverting their wings at their wrist joint. By twisting their humerus (their upper arm bone) rather than just flapping it up and down, the birds are able to manage a 140-degree arc while delivering a uniquely powerful contraction of its chest muscles and provide uplift. As the lead researcher states, “The usual [wing movement] mechanism makes the upstroke aerodynamically invisible. The hummingbirds’ mechanism makes the upstroke aerodynamically effective.” The study provides evidence for a theory suggested by German scientists back in 1939, and interestingly enough was accomplished when researchers decided to retrofit...

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