Category : Language

(Church Times) Tim Wyatt asks some of the C of E’s most prolific users of Twitter and Facebook what they think about social media

It is not hard to find a bad news story featuring social media. From allegations of data misuse and interference in elections to the opprobrium heaped on those guilty of ill-judged Twitter posts, and concerns about the impact on social cohesion and attention spans, it seems that we might be falling out of love with the medium.

In the halcyon days of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and the rest, the Church of England, like the rest of the world, appeared enraptured. There was widespread enthusiasm about the opportunities for mission and communication.

The Bishop of Buckingham, Dr Alan Wilson, captured much of the optimistic mood in a column for the Church Times in 2011: “Christians have much to say using social media because churches contain many ordinary people with engaging stories to tell. The more they get out there and speak freely, the richer a view of Christianity the world will get” (Comment, 6 May 2011).

Bloggers such as Church Mouse (16,500 followers) and the “digital nun” Sister Catherine Wybourne (19,500 followers) shot to prominence, while a thousand Facebook groups sprang up as believers coalesced online around their various interests and traditions.

One blogging priest, the Revd Peter Ould, even co-ordinated early efforts on Twitter into a website, the Twurch of England, which collated every tweet from Church of England bishops and priests into a single live feed. Asked in an interview whether he was excited by the possibilities, he replied: “Absolutely — and we’re only just beginning to see the potential.”

While these early experiments are often remembered fondly, the pitfalls were soon encountered….

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Posted in --Social Networking, Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Language, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Theology

(Wash Post) Michael Gerson–The rhetoric of our era has reached its vile peak

On a Saturday night in April, the rhetoric of our historical era reached a culminating, symbolic moment.

In Washington — at the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner — comedian Michelle Wolf mocked the physical appearance of a Trump administration official, joked about feticide and compared the president’s daughter to “an empty box of tampons.”

In Washington, Mich., President Trump gave an 80-minute speech in a stream-of-semiconsciousness style that mixed narcissism, nativism, ignorance, mendacity and malice. He attacked the FBI, intelligence agencies, the Justice Department and his presidential predecessors. “Any Hispanics in the room? ” he asked at one point, producing some boos. Of the press: “These people, they hate your guts. ” Of his political opponents: “A vote for a Democrat in November, is a vote for open borders and crime. It’s very simple.

In both Washingtons, political discourse was dominated by the values and practices of reality television and social media: nasty, shallow, personal, vile, vindictive, graceless, classless, bullying, ugly, crass and simplistic. This is not merely change; it is digression. It is the triumph of the boors. It is a discourse unworthy of a great country, and a sign that greatness of purpose and character is slipping way.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Language, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Theology

(WSJ) Deborah Gastfreund Schuss: Learning to Pray When Words Fail–Disorders like aphasia pose a challenge for adherents of speech-based faiths

Julie Shulman decided to study linguistics because she wanted to help people with speaking disorders. She never imagined how personal this mission would become. After graduating from Israel’s Bar-Ilan University in 2000, the Maine native headed to Massachusetts for a master’s degree and job in speech therapy. Her husband, Ayal Shulman, worked as a business-development manager for an Israeli startup in Brookline. They returned to Israel in 2009—with promising careers and three young children.

Two weeks after their return, Mr. Shulman, then 37, suffered a massive brain hemorrhage. Despite the initially grim prognosis, his cognitive function is intact. But his speech is limited to sentences of three or four words, and his reading and writing abilities are limited.

Along with Mr. Shulman, at least two million people in the U.S. live with aphasia, according to the National Aphasia Association. Some 180,000 acquire the disorder every year. The condition, which produces a disconnect between what the brain wants to convey and what is actually expressed, often strikes survivors of strokes or head trauma without affecting their intelligence. The incidence is growing because medical advancements enable people with such maladies to survive at higher rates. Yet cures for the ensuing handicaps remain elusive.

Ms. Shulman —an Orthodox Jew deeply immersed in her faith—wanted to enhance her husband’s practice of Judaism. Today she helps reintegrate others suffering from aphasia into communal religious participation.

 

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Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Judaism, Language, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Theology

(The Sun) BIGDOG = BIG LOVE How a 9-stone dog taught author JoJo Moyes how to live for now

This is only funny because…[the children] miss her more than me too (they’ve set up an Instagram account devoted to her).

Even my husband, not the most expressive of men, is like putty when around her, as I discovered when I overheard him say: “Do you not want your breakfast?

“No? Shall I grate some Parmesan on to it?” (The dog in my new book, Still Me, has adopted this culinary habit).

She has inadvertently improved my writer’s back because I’m forced to leave my desk at least four times a day.

She has brought me and my husband closer — we walk together at dawn….

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Night, everyone. Hope it was a good one x

A post shared by Jojo Moyes (@jojomoyesofficial) on

Posted in Animals, Children, Language, Marriage & Family

(Christian Today) Church of England looks to millennial ‘creatives’ for digital ideas

The Church of England is turning to millennial ‘creatives’ to boost its online reach as regular church attendance is replaced with digital engagement.

Around 50 ‘technicians and creatives’ from around the UK are being brought into central London for a day-long event pitching ideas for new apps, hashtags and websites to help the Church boost its web presence.

Their ideas will be judged by an expert panel including the BBC’s senior digital producer Lynda Davies and the LEGO Group’s global social media team senior manager, James Poulter.

It comes as the Church battles dwindling numbers coming on a Sunday and instead is trying to reach people through social media and digital marketing techniques. Figures released in October say 1.2 million people every month engage with the Church online through its videos, images, podcasts and blogs.

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Posted in --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Language, Media, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Young Adults

(CEN) The current Church is producing ‘bumper-sticker theology’, says the Chancellor of St Paul’s Cathedral, Canon Mark Oakley

Canon Mark Oakley was delivering the Donald Barnes Memorial Lecture, arguing for a renewal of theological language.

The Canon, who is responsible for the educational and outreach work of the Cathedral, explained that a priest’s vocation ‘is not about giving information’ but helping ‘formation’ and ‘growth’, adding that ‘the Church is always in danger of such deadening jargon that means little to the uninitiated’.

He said that talk of faith and God is ‘so often at the moment polarised’ and ‘beaten into crass characterisations and then fired like bullets’.

This leads to ‘a lot of bumper-sticker theology, soundbites on God that we’re meant to honk at if we agree or just drive by if we don’t’.

“We are not here to resolve the mystery of God but to deepen it. We are not to reflect jargon and cliché – the devil is in the drivel when logos have turned to slogan,” he said.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Language, Religion & Culture, Theology

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks–Truth emerges from disagreement and debate

Coming in to Broadcasting House this morning I saw for the first time the statue unveiled this week, of George Orwell, with its inscription on the wall behind, “If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.” How badly we need that truth today.

I’ve been deeply troubled by what seems to me to be the assault on free speech taking place in British universities in the name of “safe space,” “trigger warnings,” and “micro-aggressions,” meaning any remark that someone might find offensive even if no offence is meant. So far has this gone that a month ago, students at an Oxford College banned the presence of a representative of the Christian Union on the grounds that some might find their presence alienating and offensive. Luckily the protest that followed led to the ban being swiftly overturned. But still …

I’m sure this entire movement has been undertaken for the highest of motives, to protect the feelings of the vulnerable, which I applaud, but you don’t achieve that by silencing dissenting views. A safe space is the exact opposite: a place where you give a respectful hearing to views opposed to your own, knowing that your views too will be listened to respectfully. That’s academic freedom and it’s essential to a free society.

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Posted in Anthropology, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Judaism, Language, Philosophy

Glen Scrivener–Today we remember the martyrdom of William Tyndale

Tyndale has been called the architect of the English language, and in many cases he invented words to better convey the original:

“atonement”

“scapegoat”

“Jehovah”

“mercy seat”

“Passover”

And scores of his phrases have proved impossible to better in the last five centuries”¦

“Let there be light”

“In the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was God”

Wonderful stuff–make sure to read it all.

Posted in Church History, Language, Theology: Scripture

(WSJ) David Gregory–How to Discuss Religion Without Arguing

Jews aren’t the only ones with profound disagreements within their community. Faith in the public square has become as polarized as politics. That’s really a shame for civic life, says John DiIulio Jr. of the University of Pennsylvania, once an adviser to President George W. Bush on faith-based initiatives. “Religion can be a tremendously and uniquely powerful civic tonic—and a tremendously and uniquely destructive civic toxin,” he noted during a talk at the Brookings Institution earlier this month.

At the same event Russell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, blamed heightened polarization on a loss of transcendent purpose and meaning in public life. He observed that people are “finding tribal identities in political movements or cultural arguments in a way that often really isn’t about coming to a solution to those arguments, but about identifying ‘I am the sort of person who stands here as opposed to the sort of people who stands there.’ ”

Tribalism, sectarianism, polarization, mistrust. Sounds like Twitter.

How about a real conversation? Recently I took part in one in rural Maryland at the invitation of the Jewish Week of New York, which has been convening such gatherings for more than a decade. There were more than 50 of us, all Jewish, but with different backgrounds, beliefs and experiences. The idea was that we were the ones who would set the agenda. From the start, we went around and talked less about what we do than what we care about and what we hope to do.

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Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Judaism, Language, Religion & Culture

Today in History–54 years ago, Martin Luther King Jr’s ‘I have a Dream’ speech

Posted in America/U.S.A., History, Language, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture

(Vanguard) Anglican Church urges Nigerians to shun hate speech

Dr Nicholas Okoh, Primate of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) on Saturday appealed to Nigerians to avoid hate speech.‎ Okoh made the call in Kano when he led some members of his church to visit Gov. Abdullahi Ganduje at the Government House.

The clergyman, who described the trend in recent times as alarming,‎ urged Nigerians to work assiduously to control hate speech.‎ “Hate speech has serious consequences on our country as it promotes violence, extremism and conflicts. “Most of the adherents of these two religions don’t have the real understanding of the teaching‎s of their religions; that is why we having problem with hate speeches,” he said. Okoh called on Nigerians to preach love, tolerance and understanding in order to move the country forward.‎

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Posted in Anthropology, Church of Nigeria, Ethics / Moral Theology, Islam, Language, Muslim-Christian relations, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Theology

(Guardian) Shocking figures: US academics find ‘dramatic’ growth of swearing in books

Mark Twain wrote: “There ought to be a room in every house to swear in,” because “it’s dangerous to have to repress an emotion like that”. Today, the great American novelist might have applauded the increase in cursing, with a new study identifying a “dramatic” increase in swear words in American literature over the last 60 years.

Sifting through text from almost 1m books, the study found that “&^%$#$%” was used 678 times more often in the mid-2000s than the early 1950s, occurrences of “)*&^!@#$$%” multiplied 69 times, and “&^%$$#!@(*&” was 168 times more frequent.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Books, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Language

(CNN) Mel Robbins on the increasing use of Foul Language in Public Life

We’ve reached a major tipping point in politics and there’s no turning back.

Welcome to the Swear Zone.

Remember the good old days, when decorum was still intact? The days where without a hot mic we never would have heard George W. Bush call a reporter a “major-league *****” or Joe Biden’s aside to Barack Obama that passing health care reform was “a big ***** deal.”

Those days are over. Politics are not only wildly unpredictable, they’re NSFWAF. Blame Donald Trump for taking us to new lows, but here’s something new: the Democrats are jumping deep in the mud with him.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Language, Politics in General

(History Today) Eleanor Parker–Chaucer's Post-Truth World

‘Post-truth’ is a word of our times, at least according to Oxford Dictionaries, who declared it their word of 2016. Their definition said that ”˜post-truth’ refers to ”˜circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief’.

The appearance of a new word tends to encourage the idea that the phenomenon itself is new: that it did not exist before there was a neologism to describe it. That is not the case here, even if ”˜post-truth’ is the current buzz-word; as historians know well, there has never been a time when public opinion was not shaped more powerfully by emotion and personal belief than by facts. What is different now, perhaps, is how rapidly false stories and fake news can circulate: social media allows the public as well as giant news organisations to be involved in spreading untrue or distorted tales. That is a formidable challenge for those who care about truth.

But even concern about the ease with which false stories can spread is far from new. At the end of the 14th century, Geoffrey Chaucer wrote incisively on this subject in his poem The House of Fame. This poem describes a dream-vision in which Chaucer (carried by a comically talkative eagle) is borne up into the sky, taken to a castle standing midway between Heaven and Earth. This is the House of Fame, to which all words uttered in the world, spoken or written, find their way.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Books, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Language, Philosophy, Theology

(NPR) Facing Blasphemy Charges, Indonesian Politician 'Happy That History Chose Me'

Last September, [Jakarta Gov. Basuki Tjahaja Purnama known by his chinese nickname as] Ahok told a group of fishermen that politicians who quoted from the Quran to say they should not vote for a non-Muslim were lying to them. But he also told the fishermen to vote their conscience.

Ahok, who has a reputation as a blunt speaker, later apologized, saying he had no intention of insulting the Quran or Islam.

But some Muslims took offense, and hundreds of thousands took to the streets in three massive rallies against Ahok that convulsed central Jakarta in November and December. Demonstrators continue to congregate at the courthouse where Ahok is on trial. Coils of barbed wire and riot police separate pro- and anti-Ahok protesters.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, Ethics / Moral Theology, Indonesia, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Language, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Faiths, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology