Category : Language

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.

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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.

Read it all.

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

(NPR) Billy Collins On How To Become A Poet, And Why Poetry Can Be A Game

For many NPR fans, Billy Collins needs no introduction. The former Poet Laureate is widely acknowledged as America’s most popular poet, regularly popping up on national best-seller lists (terra incognita for most poets, even beloved ones).

Public radio fans might know him best from his frequent appearances on A Prairie Home Companion … or may remember his lack of Phil Collins know-how, as displayed on Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me.

So when Collins sat down with NPR for a reading on Facebook Live, we didn’t have to do much work to drum up an audience. The comments were quickly filled with his longtime fans.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Language, Poetry & Literature