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NAMING THE ELEPHANT: Worldview as a Concept

James W. Sire, Author
James W. Sire, Author . InterVarsity $14 (163p) ISBN 978-0-8308-2779-4
Reviewed on: 04/26/2004
Release date: 05/01/2004
Ebook - 156 pages - 978-0-8308-7641-9
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Sire, who as an InterVarsity Press editor and author of The Universe Next Door helped introduce Christian college students to "worldview," revisits the subject with a more technical approach that sacrifices the essential simplicity of the earlier work. The title refers to the story of a father asked to explain what holds up the world. Eventually he chooses "the biggest animal he could think of and put a capital on it... 'It's an Elephant... it's Elephant all the way down.' " Like the Elephant, a worldview is expected to answer big questions about "the basic makeup of our world," and is likely "brought to mind only when we are challenged by a foreigner from another ideological universe." Sire notes that such challenges are mounting in our increasingly pluralistic world, even though the basic menu of worldview options remains mostly unchanged from a generation ago, with the (grudgingly acknowledged) addition of postmodernism. In defining the concept of worldview, Sire goes beyond his earlier treatment of worldviews as "answers to a systematic set of questions" to consider other possibilities. A worldview can also take the form of a story, a way of life, a pre-theoretical intuition or a pattern of actions. Such alternatives promote a nuanced appreciation of worldviews, and of the serious difficulty in communicating across worldview frontiers. But for all these refinements, Sire's message remains basically the same: Christians tend to have Christian beliefs, and others tend not to. (June)

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