Daily Archives: April 25, 2011

Charles McGrath–Why the King James Bible Endures

The King James Bible, which was first published 400 years ago next month, may be the single best thing ever accomplished by a committee. The Bible was the work of 54 scholars and clergymen who met over seven years in six nine-man subcommittees, called “companies.” In a preface to the new Bible, Miles Smith, one of the translators and a man so impatient that he once walked out of a boring sermon and went to the pub, wrote that anything new inevitably “endured many a storm of gainsaying, or opposition.” So there must have been disputes ”” shouting; table pounding; high-ruffed, black-gowned clergymen folding their arms and stomping out of the room ”” but there is no record of them. And the finished text shows none of the PowerPoint insipidness we associate with committee-speak or with later group translations like the 1961 New English Bible, which T.S. Eliot said did not even rise to “dignified mediocrity.” Far from bland, the King James Bible is one of the great masterpieces of English prose.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Church History, England / UK, Poetry & Literature, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Remembering the Atlanta Based Rabbi who Helped Make Kosher Coca-Cola

….[Rabbi Tuvia Geffen] of the long beard and wire-rim glasses and Yiddish-inflected English, a man by all outward appearances belonging to the Old World… was the person who by geographical coincidence and unexpected perspicacity adapted Coca-Cola’s secret formula to make the iconic soft drink kosher in one version for Passover and in another for the rest of the year. To this day, his 1935 rabbinical ruling, known in Hebrew as a teshuva, remains the standard.

That ruling, in turn, did much more than solve a dietary problem. A generation after Frank’s lynching, a decade after Congress barred the Golden Door, amid the early stages of Hitler’s genocide, kosher Coke formed a powerful symbol of American Jewry’s place in the mainstream.

“Rabbi Geffen really got the importance of it,” said Marcie Cohen Ferris, a professor of American studies at the University of North Carolina, who specializes in Jewish life in the South. “You couldn’t live in any better place than the South to get it. To not drink Coca-Cola was certainly to be considered un-American.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Economy, History, Judaism, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

Archbishop of Canterbury hails plan to measure national happiness

Dr Williams welcomed the acknowledgment that there is “more to life” than individual possessions, and said that street parties being held to mark the royal wedding showed the value of shared celebrations.

However he also suggested that the proposal to devise a “well-being index” risked being meaningless if public services enjoyed by young people are axed.

His comments came in his Easter Day sermon at Canterbury Cathedral, in which the most senior cleric in the Church of England described the joyful shock experienced by Jesus’s disciples after the Resurrection.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Archbishop of Canterbury

America's Mood at Lowest Level in Two Years, Poll Shows

Americans are more pessimistic about the nation’s economic outlook and overall direction than they have been at any time since President Obama’s first two months in office, when the country was still officially ensnared in the Great Recession, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.

Amid rising gas prices, stubborn unemployment and a cacophonous debate in Washington over the federal government’s ability to meet its future obligations, the poll presents stark evidence that the slow, if unsteady, gains in public confidence earlier this year that a recovery was under way are now all but gone.

Capturing what appears to be an abrupt change in attitude, the survey shows that the number of Americans who think the economy is getting worse has jumped 13 percentage points in just one month. Though there have been encouraging signs of renewed growth since last fall, many economists are having second thoughts, warning that the pace of expansion might not be fast enough to create significant numbers of new jobs.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, House of Representatives, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Office of the President, Personal Finance, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Psychology, Senate

Bobby Ryan's Amazing Goal in the NHL Playoffs

Watch it all–wow.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Sports

At Atlanta's Ebenezer Baptist Church, a Glorious Rebirth

Each of the 90 federal historic sites in the United States has its appeal. But for all their cultural value, the sites don’t change much. A studious tour given by a park ranger. A plaque to read. Another note in a travel journal.

But this week, one of the sites held the sort of electric charge usually not found among dusty period chairs and explanatory dioramas.

Inside the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church ”” the place where Martin Luther King Jr. was both baptized and eulogized ”” a new, meticulous renovation underscored the weight of one of the most significant social movements in modern America.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Baptists, History, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture

(Daily Mail) Scotland's top Roman Catholic Attacks the marginalisation of Christians

‘Aggressive secularism’ is destroying Britain’s Christian heritage and culture, a leader of the Catholic Church has warned.

Cardinal Keith O’Brien, the head of the Catholic Church in Scotland, has urged members of the faith to unite against an assault on their values.

In a vehement attack on secularism during his Easter sermon he said Christians are being ‘marginalised’ in society and banned from acting on their beliefs.R

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, England / UK, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Scotland

(SMH) Peter Craven–Believers or not, we should keep alive the story of Easter

Does anyone really want their children to be without a knowledge of that heritage? Think of the thief on the cross next to Jesus who asks him to remember him when he comes into his kingdom and how Jesus says to him tonight he will be with him in paradise.

Some stories are true because of the depth of life they contain. We should keep alive the story of Easter if we want our children to understand what’s going on in much of the greatest painting we have. It’s necessary if they are to realise why the words led to the music in Bach’s St Matthew Passion, one of the greatest pieces of music ever written. Or even to cotton on to the poignancy of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Mary Magdalene song in Jesus Christ Superstar, I Don’t Know How To Love Him.

No one has ever known what to do with Easter or with the Bible that shaped every straight and crooked step our civilisation has taken. How does the story go? The light shone in the darkness, but the darkness could not comprehend it.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Australia / NZ, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Easter, Multiculturalism, pluralism, Religion & Culture

Seeking to start an Evangelical Church in the East Village

…the church and its expansion into the East Village highlight a concerted groundswell of middle-class, professional evangelicals in Manhattan, an area many churches once shunned as an epicenter of sin. It is the place, many now believe, to reach the people who influence the world.

Though much attention has been paid to New York’s boom in immigrant churches, in recent decades the number of English-speaking evangelical churches south of Harlem has grown tenfold, to more than 100, said Tony Carnes, a researcher and founder of the online journal A Journey Through NYC Religions, who has studied New York churches since the 1970s. Without fanfare, the newcomers have created networks to pay for new churches and to form church-planting incubators, treating the city as a mission field.

Because the institutions are new, Mr. Carnes added, the city has become “like a Silicon Valley of church-planting.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Evangelicals, Evangelism and Church Growth, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Urban/City Life and Issues

Notable and Quotable

[Ellen] Barkin graduated from the High School of Performing Arts in Manhattan, even though her teachers advised her parents to take her out of school because she wasn’t “pretty enough” and had “very little talent and no spark.” It took her years to recover from that assessment, but once she did, she was cast in Barry Levinson’s “Diner” and found enough spark to burn up the screen with Dennis Quaid in “The Big Easy” and Al Pacino in “Sea of Love.”

–From a profile of Ms. Barkin in yesterday’s New York Times Magazine (my emphasis)

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Children, Education, Marriage & Family, Movies & Television, Women

Shields and Brooks on Libya, the Economy and the National Mood, and the Debate on Entitlements

[MARK SHIELDS] I mean [the Republicans] want to go after the social programs. And each time, they take this election win as a mandate to do it, and they end up…

DAVID BROOKS: Well, but I can say, on the substance, they are right each time. I mean…

JIM LEHRER: You think it is courageous to do that?

DAVID BROOKS: Well, I mean, as I said, your average Medicare enrollee, average income, making I don’t know what it is, $50,000 a year, is paying in $145,000 over the lifetime into the system, taking out $450,000.

Well, there is a big gap there. And that is unsustainable. And so the $450,000 has to be brought down over time. And they are absolutely right to try to bring it down. It just happens to be extremely unpopular to try to talk about that.

Read or watch it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Aging / the Elderly, America/U.S.A., Budget, Economy, Health & Medicine, House of Representatives, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Psychology, Senate, Social Security, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government

(WSJ Front Page over the weekend) Dollar's Decline Speeds Up, With Risks for U.S.

The U.S. dollar’s downward slide is accelerating as low interest rates, inflation concerns and the massive federal budget deficit undermine the currency.

With no relief in sight for the dollar on any of those fronts, the downward pressure on the dollar is widely expected to continue.

The dollar fell nearly 1% against a broad basket of currencies this week, following a drop of similar size last week. The ICE U.S. Dollar Index closed at its lowest level since August 2008, before the financial crisis intensified.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Budget, Credit Markets, Currency Markets, Economy, Euro, Europe, European Central Bank, Federal Reserve, Globalization, South America, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government, The United States Currency (Dollar etc)

Easter Faith that Sustains

If I had a Son in Court, or married a daughter into a plentifull Fortune, I were satisfied for that son or that daughter. Shall I not be so, when the King of Heaven hath taken that sone to himselfe, and married himselfe to that daughter, for ever? I spend none of my Faith, I exercise none of my Hope, in this, that I shall have my dead raised to life againe. This is the faith that sustains me, when I lose by the death of others, and we, are now all in one Church, and at the resurrection, shall be all in one Quire.

”“John Donne (1572-1631) [my emphasis]

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Easter


Rise heart; thy Lord is risen. Sing his praise
Without delayes,
Who takes thee by the hand, that thou likewise
With him mayst rise:
That, as his death calcined1 thee to dust,
His life may make thee gold, and much more, just.

Awake, my lute, and struggle for thy part
With all thy art.
The crosse taught all wood to resound his name,
Who bore the same.
His stretched sinews taught all strings, what key
Is best to celebrate this most high day.

Consort both heart and lute, and twist a song
Pleasant and long:
Or, since all musick is but three parts vied
And multiplied,
O let thy blessed Spirit bear a part,
And make up our defects with his sweet art.

–George Herbert (1593-1633)

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Easter, Poetry & Literature

A Prayer to Begin the Day

Gracious Lord, we remember that thou didst accompany thy two disciples as they journeyed to Emmaus. Do thou go with us, O Lord, on our journey through this world. Guide us, uphold us, strengthen us; make our hearts to burn within us; and evermore manifest thyself to our souls in gracious and heavenly power. For thine own name’s sake we ask it.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Easter, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.

–1 Corinthians 15:3-8

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

A Prayer for Easter Sunday Evening

Lord Jesus, risen from the dead and alive for evermore: Stand in our midst tonight as in the upper room; show us thy hands and thy side; speak thy peace to our hearts and minds; and send us forth into the world as thy witnesses; for the glory of thy name.

–The Rev. John R. W. Stott

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Easter, Spirituality/Prayer

Where Springs Not Fail

I have desired to go
Where springs not fail,
To fields where flies no sharp and sided hail
And a few lilies blow.

And I have asked to be
Where no storms come,
Where the green swell is in the havens dumb,
And out of the swing of the sea.

–Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844”“89), “Heaven-Haven”

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Easter, Poetry & Literature

(BBC) In Pictures: Easter 2011 celebrated around the world

Wonderful stuff–look through it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Easter, Globalization, Religion & Culture

Pope Benedict XVIth's Easter Sunday Urbi et Orbi 2011

The resurrection of Christ is not the fruit of speculation or mystical experience: it is an event which, while it surpasses history, nevertheless happens at a precise moment in history and leaves an indelible mark upon it. The light which dazzled the guards keeping watch over Jesus’ tomb has traversed time and space. It is a different kind of light, a divine light, that has rent asunder the darkness of death and has brought to the world the splendour of God, the splendour of Truth and Goodness.

Just as the sun’s rays in springtime cause the buds on the branches of the trees to sprout and open up, so the radiance that streams forth from Christ’s resurrection gives strength and meaning to every human hope, to every expectation, wish and plan. Hence the entire cosmos is rejoicing today, caught up in the springtime of humanity, which gives voice to creation’s silent hymn of praise. The Easter Alleluia, resounding in the Church as she makes her pilgrim way through the world, expresses the silent exultation of the universe and above all the longing of every human soul that is sincerely open to God, giving thanks to him for his infinite goodness, beauty and truth.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Easter, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic