Category : Language

(CHE) A Scholar of Proverbs Built a Vast Collection of Books. Then Opportunity Knocked.

Good artists copy; great artists steal. Perhaps Benjamin Franklin knew as much, because when he wrote his famous Poor Richard’s Almanack, he did not cite sources for the proverbs that peppered its pages.

To many, quippy sayings like “Time is money” are synonymous with the Founding Father. People think Franklin thought them up. But Wolfgang Mieder, one of the world’s leading proverb scholars, knows better.

Mieder and a colleague traced the saying to a short, anonymous text published in a London-based newspaper, Free Thinker, in 1719. In fact, many of the sayings commonly attributed to Franklin actually come from English proverb collections, said Mieder, a professor of German and folklore at the University of Vermont.

Tracking down the origins of proverbs is “detective work,” he says. “You kind of feel like you’re discovering things.” He has researched and written about cultural wisdoms for nearly five decades and, in the process, amassed a one-of-a-kind scholarly library. It includes about 9,000 books (including 252 that Mieder has written, co-authored, or edited) and 6,500 photocopied articles and dissertations, all about proverbs. He doubts anything like it exists, anywhere.

Read it all.

Posted in Books, Education, History, Language

(AC) Rod Dreyer–The Orwellian Sexual Revolution

Yesterday in our podcast interview, Ezra Klein asked me to explain why it is that when he looks at this blog, he sees lots of anxious material about LGBT stuff, when that kind of thing doesn’t appear in the actual life he lives as a New York liberal. It’s a fair question.

Here’s what I told him — or rather, the overall message you will have received from listening to the entire interview.

The Sexual Revolution is the most important social event of our era. It has overturned many of the structures, practices, and ways of thinking that ordered human life for ages and ages. It has radically changed the meaning of family, marriage, male, female, even what it means to be human. It is changing the way we use language, which itself changes the way we frame our experiences of the world. And its principles negate the Christian religion, which I passionately believe to be true. You cannot reconcile the Sexual Revolution to orthodox Christianity. You just can’t.

You can think this is a great thing, a terrible thing, or some of both, but what you cannot deny is that it is a momentous thing. Writing in the 1960s, sociologist Philip Rieff said it was a more radical revolution than the Bolshevik one.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Language, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology

The Top 100 Most significant American political speeches of the 20th Century?

Interestingly President Ronald Reagan’s 1984 speech (prior post) is #58 in the 100 most significant usa political speeches of the 20th c, according to 137 leading scholars of usa public address, as compiled by Stephen E. Lucas (U of Wis-Madison) Martin J. Medhurst (Baylor U). See what you make of their list of the top 100 speeches of the 20th century there.

Posted in History, Language

(Washington Post) ‘The boys of Pointe du Hoc’: The Reagan D-Day speech that moved a nation Washington

‘Sitting before him were 62 of the “boys,” now-middle aged men who had climbed the cliffs at Pointe du Hoc, using ropes, grappling hooks and ladders to reach a suspected German gun emplacement 100 feet up.

They were boys no more, and even on the that stormy morning in 1944, they were more a group of rugged characters than youths.

One, William “L-Rod” Petty, 63, had lost his teeth playing football and suffered two broken legs in training before he joined the Army Ranger outfit that fought there. It took him three tries to reach the top. He is thought to have killed 30 German soldiers that day.

Leonard G. “Bud” Lomell, 64, had been a railroad brakeman before the war. Shot in the side, he barely made it up the cliff but later destroyed two big German guns with thermite grenades. He would be awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.

Frank South, 59, was a Ranger medic, and had treated many wounded men on the beach before reaching the heights with the others. He would earn two Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star.

Antonio “Tom” Ruggiero, 58, had been a professional tap dancer before the war. He was plunged into the water when a shell hit his landing craft on D-Day and later became a sniper in the Rangers.’

Read it all and do not miss the full text of the speech there.

Posted in America/U.S.A., History, Language, Military / Armed Forces

Remembering D-Day–Winston Churchill’s Speech, June 6, 1944

I have also to announce to the House that during the night and the early hours of this morning the first of the series of landings in force upon the European Continent has taken place. In this case the liberating assault fell upon the coast of France. An immense armada of upwards of 4,000 ships, together with several thousand smaller craft, crossed the Channel. Massed airborne landings have been successfully effected behind the enemy lines, and landings on the beaches are proceeding at various points at the present time. The fire of the shore batteries has been largely quelled. The obstacles that were constructed in the sea have not proved so difficult as was apprehended. The Anglo-American Allies are sustained by about 11,000 firstline aircraft, which can be drawn upon as may be needed for the purposes of the battle. I cannot, of course, commit myself to any particular details. Reports are coming in in rapid succession. So far the Commanders who are engaged report that everything is proceeding according to plan. And what a plan! This vast operation is undoubtedly the most complicated and difficult that has ever taken place. It involves tides, wind, waves, visibility, both from the air and the sea standpoint, and the combined employment of land, air and sea forces in the highest degree of intimacy and in contact with conditions which could not and cannot be fully foreseen.

There are already hopes that actual tactical surprise has been attained, and we hope to furnish the enemy with a succession of surprises during the course of the fighting. The battle that has now begun will grow constantly in scale and in intensity for many weeks to come, and I shall not attempt to speculate upon its course. This I may say, however. Complete unity prevails throughout the Allied Armies. There is a brotherhood in arms between us and our friends of the United States. There is complete confidence in the supreme commander, General Eisenhower, and his lieutenants, and also in the commander of the Expeditionary Force, General Montgomery. The ardour and spirit of the troops, as I saw myself, embarking in these last few days was splendid to witness. Nothing that equipment, science or forethought could do has been neglected, and the whole process of opening this great new front will be pursued with the utmost resolution both by the commanders and by the United States and British Governments whom they serve. I have been at the centres where the latest information is received, and I can state to the House that this operation is proceeding in a thoroughly satisfactory manner. Many dangers and difficulties which at this time last night appeared extremely formidable are behind us. The passage of the sea has been made with far less loss than we apprehended. The resistance of the batteries has been greatly weakened by the bombing of the Air Force, and the superior bombardment of our ships quickly reduced their fire to dimensions which did not affect the problem. The landings of the troops on a broad front, both British and American- -Allied troops, I will not give lists of all the different nationalities they represent-but the landings along the whole front have been effective, and our troops have penetrated, in some cases, several miles inland. Lodgments exist on a broad front.

Read it all.

Posted in England / UK, History, Language, Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General

([London] Times) Jessikka Aro, the journalist who took on Russian trolls

“This has nothing to do with freedom of speech,” says Aro. “This is not normal political discussion. Saying, ‘Jessikka is a crack whore who needs to be killed’ is a crime in many different countries.”

Confident, passionate and highly articulate, Aro speaks fluent English and Russian. She has tried reporting her abusers to Facebook and YouTube, but mostly receives an automated reply saying that they haven’t violated community standards. The reality of moderating, she argues, can be too complex for an algorithm, and requires human brains. “In fact, some of this content violates both their own community standards and Finnish legislation. By not removing it, they are enabling state-sponsored Russian troll operations.”

She accuses the companies of putting profit before anything else. Facebook has even profited from the trolls, she claims, because they pay for visibility and sponsored posts to attack her.

“Their moderation and security guarantee goes against their business model, basically. But if they’re going to do business in our countries, if they’re going to take our data and use it to make money, then they should also take some responsibility. It’s wrong, and illegal, to send death threats to anyone. They should have put an end to this years ago, but it’s still going on. They don’t seem interested in investigating it voluntarily, unless the US Senate or special counsel Robert Mueller demands that they do.”

Read it all (subscription).

Posted in --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Language, Law & Legal Issues, Science & Technology

(CT) An interview with James E. Beitler on his new book ‘Seasoned Speech: Rhetoric in the Life of the Church’

Few of us can escape the torrent of heated opinion and commentary on the world’s issues—in the news, on our social feeds, in our conversational circles. What do you see as an effective response from people of faith and the church at large?

One of the most important responses is opening up spaces for active listening. That’s something that I found C.S. Lewis did particularly well. Lewis had this posture of goodwill toward those around him—toward friends and students, but also toward people he didn’t agree with, including non-believers.

Also, we have too few spaces right now where dialogue across differing viewpoints can happen. Figures like Marilynne Robinson are incredibly useful in addressing this. Her stories are realistic about the difficulties of belonging, as they’re inhabited by people with very different beliefs. Yet she makes a welcoming space for readers. There’s an important moment in her novel Home when two characters, a father and son (Robert and Jack Boughton) who have a very tense relationship, are watching the news. Jack sees the violence happening in the South, and he exclaims, “Jesus Christ!” And his dad, who was a minister, reacts instead to Jack’s taking the Lord’s name in vain. On one hand, you have this figure who is very much concerned with social justice. On the other, you have someone very much concerned with truth and holiness.

It’s so valuable when the church has places where commitments both to truth and justice are radically affirmed. Robinson’s book points to an ideal of restoration, of harmony—what the biblical writers would call shalom.

Read it all.

Posted in Books, Language, Religion & Culture

(WSJ) Blaire French–Putting ‘Soul’ Back in the Hebrew Bible

Berkeley scholar Robert Alter, in his new translation of the Hebrew Bible, has made a decisive statement against soul. Nowhere in the text does he render nefesh as soul—because he believes it would import Christian beliefs into the Hebrew text. Mr. Alter’s Psalmist declares, “The Lord is my shepherd. . . . My life He brings back.”

In the attempt to de-Christianize the nefesh, however, Mr. Alter and others create a metaphysical gulf between the Hebrew Bible and traditional English translations. Nefesh has a range of meanings—many of which indicate that it is indeed intrinsic to corporeal existence. Animals and humans, at the moment of their creation, are called a “living nefesh” in the book of Genesis. In Numbers, a “dead nefesh” is a corpse. The word is also found in Sheol, the shadowy underworld populated by the deceased described in Psalms 49 and 88. This raises the specter of a nefesh unbound by flesh.

Then there is the prophet Elijah. When calling on God to bring a child back to life, he requests the return of the boy’s nefesh. It re-enters the child and he revives (1 Kings 17:21-22). However the verse is parsed, the nefesh exists apart from the body.

Read it all.

Posted in Books, Language, Theology: Scripture

(CA) Stephen Noll–“Living in Love and Faith”: Tree or Billboard?

A colleague sent me a link to the “Living in Love and Faith” report to the General Synod of the Church of England, which is meeting later this month. For the uninitiated, the “Living in Love and Faith” (LLF) project is a massive exercise by the Church of England to tackle the thorny issue of human sexuality. The general supposition is that the LLF results will be forwarded to the Lambeth Conference in 2020, to be discussed in table groups (indaba), which in turn will conclude that Anglicans have a mixed bag of views on sex and marriage and that they have agreed to disagree. Such a result will in effect nullify the clear teaching of Lambeth 1998, which has been a touchstone for the Global South churches….

Despite its likening a book to a tree trunk, the entire report manages to avoid quoting the Book, the Bible, anywhere. Instead we get vague allusions to “creativity” and “hermeneutical understandings” and “situatedness of the gospel” and “ecclesiology in the context of difference.” The report makes no reference to Lambeth Resolution I.10 on Human Sexuality and suggests that it will produce a deeper understanding of the interplay of “inherited teaching” on marriage and singleness with “emergent views.” (The word “deep” seems a favorite of the authors, reminding me of this ditty from Gilbert & Sullivan’s Patience: “If this young man expresses himself in terms too deep for me, Why, what a very singularly deep young man this deep young man must be!”)….

It seems that the current controversy in the Anglican Communion and Lambeth 2020 comes down to branding rights. On the one hand, I would commend the 1998 Lambeth Resolution on Human Sexuality (300 words), the 2008 Jerusalem Statement and Declaration (2400 words) and the 2018 Gafcon “Letter to the Churches” (2500 words) as clear and concise statements of biblical teaching in the Anglican tradition. On the other hand, we have the ponderous Windsor Report (93 pages), the 2008 Lambeth Indaba (44 pages) and we are looking oh-so-so forward to the weighty multi-layered Oxbridge-endorsed LLF Project. Which of these “brands” will be fruitful for the future of the Gospel and mission of Christ to the nations?

The LLF likens its work to a tree. Well, it is a good metaphor. God’s Wisdom is “a tree of life to those who lay hold of her” (Proverbs 3:18), and as noted in Joyce Kilmer’s verse: “I think that I shall never see a poem lovely as a tree.”

But somehow, given this present update, I doubt the final Living in Love and Faith Report will be lively, lovely, or faithful. I suspect it may function more like the billboard in Ogden Nash’s “Song of the Road”:

I think that I shall never see a billboard lovely as a tree.
Perhaps, unless the billboards fall, I’ll never see a tree at all.

Read it all.

Posted in - Anglican: Analysis, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Language, Marriage & Family, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology

Jay Sklar–How To Repent Of Slander In A Digital Age

…everything is different now. With one slanderous blogpost or tweet, we can destroy someone’s reputation in the eyes of thousands—all within a few hours. And because we do it from the privacy of our home, any reproof from the community comes too late. Once the bell of slander has been rung, it cannot be unheard. Some people will never look at the slandered person in the same way. The acid of slander has permanently marred them.

How to repent of slandering

But what happens if we have slandered someone publicly and want to repent? What does true repentance look like?

The Lord does not leave us to guess, and the answer comes from a place we might not expect: the book of Leviticus. In Leviticus 6:1-7, we find a law that describes what a person is to do when caught sinning against another. In this case, the guilty party has defrauded someone by means of lying, and the repentance the Lord requires is that they confess their wrong (cf. 5:5 and Matt 5:23-24), repay what they have stolen, and then add 20% on top for damages. In other words, true repentance is characterized by three actions:

  1. Acknowledging and repenting of your sin to the person you have wronged.
  2. Correcting the wrong where possible.
  3. Paying damages on top.

What does this type of repentance look like in the case of public slander? First, it means directly contacting the person you have slandered, confessing your wrong and asking forgiveness. The more directly we know the person we have slandered, the more personally we should reach out to them. Someone in our immediate circle deserves a phone call or face to face conversation. In other cases, where we might not have ever met the person, it may be okay to send an email. The key is that the slanderer repents to the person he or she wronged.

Second, we must correct the wrong by setting the record straight in as public a way as our original act of slander. In the case of slander done on social media, this does not mean simply taking down the blogpost or tweet.

Read it all.

Posted in --Social Networking, Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Ethics / Moral Theology, Language, Theology

(Christian Today) David Baker–We need to be aware of the pervasive impact of ‘The ‘cult of relentless negativity” all around us

Hear it on the radio when pointlessly adversarial interviews are staged with two opposite views – because a negative clash is deemed more likely to engage listeners than a reasoned debate. All it does is leave both interviewees looking foolish – and the presenter as righteous ring-master. Hear it when interviewers constantly interrupt or harangue their interviewees, leaving an impression that the person being interviewed is stupid or inept.

Watch it on television when news reporters conclude their package with a phrase such as ‘But critics will say…’ without naming anyone, or indeed offering any evidence they have even spoken to such ‘critics’. And there’s that other lazy, negative journalistic sign-off – ‘But many questions remain unanswered’ – leaving the impression that whatever person or event has just been reported on, there’s probably some sort of cover-up or incompetence yet to be exposed.

Observe it in politics in the nastiness between Democrats and Republicans in the US. See it likewise in Britain: witness the way people on both sides of the Brexit debate have spoken of the other. Or hear Labour MP John McDonnell who said he could never, ever be friends with a Tory – as though they are to be regarded as some separate species of human.

And sadly, of course, the cult of relentless negativity is in the church too. Read Angela Tilby’s likening of Anglican evangelicals to Labour’s hard-left ‘Momentum’ grouping in last week’s Church Times. Why undertake any serious comment when you can just smear a whole group in this way? Meanwhile an ‘inclusive’ and influential Anglican website carries an article in which every member of the Church of England’s ‘Living in Love and Faith’ sexuality project is declared ‘guilty’ on six counts (yes, six!) of ‘evil’ by the writer, namely ‘prejudice, silence, ignorance, fear, hypocrisy, prejudice and misuse of power’. Quite some indictment!

More conservative Christians can be the same. There are websites purporting to offer objective comment on Anglicanism which seem dedicated, relentlessly, to reporting and reinforcing a 100 per cent negative view. One wonders what it does to those who churn the stuff out. Some of the loudest online critics of the Church of England have alienated potential allies by relentlessly disparaging anyone who does not see things exactly as they do. How easy it is, as the puritan Richard Baxter observed, ‘to tear our brethren as heretics before we understand them’.

Read it all.

Posted in --Social Networking, Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Ethics / Moral Theology, Language, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Theology

(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….

Read it all.

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.

Read it all.

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.

 

Read it all.

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….

Read it all.

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.

Read it all.

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.

Read it all.

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.

Read it all.

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.

Read it all.

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.‎

Read it all.

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.

Read it all.

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

Don't call pregnant women 'expectant mothers' as it might offend transgender people, BMA says

The British Medical Association has said pregnant women should not be called “expectant mothers” as it could offend transgender people.

Instead, they should call them “pregnant people” so as not to upset intersex and transgender men, the union has said.

The advice comes in an internal document to staff outlining a raft of common phrases that should be avoided for fear of causing offence.

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I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anthropology, Children, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Language, Marriage & Family, Men, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Psychology, Theology, Women

Disappearing Idioms–Whistling Past the Graveyard

There seems to be two meanings for this idiom, both dependent on the same metaphoric setting and action ”” but while one is mostly positive, the other, not so much. The first connotes a situation in which a person does something (whistling, maybe?) to make of show ”“ to others, or even more commonly, to oneself ”” of bravery, or at least nonchalance, in the face of danger or difficulties.

The second meaning describes an individual who is genuinely confident and cheerful while in pursuit of a course of action at the same time blithely oblivious to the real risks involved ”“ i.e., clueless.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, History, Language

Wycliffe Hall's response to an erroneous article in this past weekend's Sunday Times

From here:

An article in ‘The Sunday Times’ (22 January 2017) has been brought to our attention, which suggests that Wycliffe Hall’s “inclusive language policy” recommends that staff and students no longer refer to God as “He”, but as “the one who”. It does no such thing. Yes, inclusive language is encouraged at Wycliffe Hall in our preaching and our writing when describing people ”“ not ”˜man’, ”˜mankind’, ”˜every man’, but ”˜human’, ”˜humanity’, ”˜everyone’. Therefore careful thought is required when using older liturgy, hymnody, or Bible translations, in order to include the whole people of God. This is common sense and is common practice throughout the churches. But there is no suggestion that the traditional gender pronouns concerning God should be altered in any way. Indeed the Hall’s policy reaffirms that we should continue to speak of God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, as Christians have always done

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Language, Seminary / Theological Education, The Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Theology

(BBC) Merriam-Webster's word of the year sums up 2016

Dictionary Merriam-Webster has named “surreal” as its word of the year.

The lexicographer selected surreal – which means “unbelievable, fantastic” – after spikes in searches following terrorist attacks and the US election.

The attacks in Brussels, the Bastille Day massacre in Nice and the attempted coup in Turkey all saw an increase in how often people searched for the word.

But the single biggest spike in look-ups came the day after Donald Trump’s election, said Merriam-Webster.

“It just seems like one of those years,” said Peter Sokolowski, the dictionary’s editor at large.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, History, Language