My friends and I went to the Oregon Symphony recently and I was extremely pleased that the Conductor explained some of the background and history about the artists. Richard Strauss’ Metamorphosen was suddenly more meaningful when set in the context of WWII and the destruction of the Munich Opera House. It was a nice reminder to me why context matters in everything.
As a Biblical Historian, I know that context is key when reading ancient tests. In order to really understand a text, you have to know as much as you can about the author, the audience, the sociopolitical situation, even the language and its nuances. The text holds more power when read in its correct context.
Context isn’t only relevant to ancient history. Mashable has printed an opinion piece on why context matters when judging images here. An image taken 5 minutes ago and tweeted can easily be taken out of context.
I can’t imagine travelling without understanding at least some of the context of the places I’m visiting. This can happen both prior to and during the trip.
When planning my trip to Turkey, I read news articles, histories, and travel books to understand more about the country.
While I was there, I learned the most from a private guide who I hired for a day in Cappadocia. From him, I learned that the gorgeous geological formations were formed from volcanic activity over a period of about 65 million years. Each of the unique formations and colors were created during a different eruption.
“Fairy chimneys” were formed when lava covering the tuff (consolidated volcanic ash) gave way along preexisting cracks of sloping areas and became isolated pinnacles. They can attain a height of up to forty meters, have conical shapes and consist of caps of harder rock resting on pillars of softer rock.
Each layer of rock was created by different volcanic eruptions over time, one on top of another.
Cappadocia was gorgeous, but with this information, it became both gorgeous and interesting. Have you noticed how context has made your life richer?
When we were in Costa Rica, one of my favorite experiences was having a guide take us around the rain forest–for a few reasons. He could answer our questions about Costa Rica in general…and tell us all sorts of details about the ecosystem that we wouldn’t have thought to ask…and we never would have seen ANYTHING if he hadn’t been there to tell us that that behind that mass of leaves (no, to the left!) was a sloth!!