Friday, November 07, 2003

A picture named churchsign3.jpgThis is hilarious: the Church Sign Generator lets you enter your own witty (or otherwise) saying, and then generates a JPEG image with it.

I plowed through a couple hundred sayings from the collection at Church Signs and Bumper Stickers before settling on this one.

4:33:27 PM #  comment []

The latest update from Barna Research identifies the problems many people in their 20s have staying involved in the church. Even though half attended as teens, average weekly attendance drops to about 30% in their twenties. This despite evidence that they still have a high interest in spiritual things.

One key reason:

"just 4% of young adults currently serve as a lay leader at their church; only 12% have been a leader at any time in the past two years."

This despite the fact that more people in this age group think of themselves as leaders than older adults. What an opportunity! Barna believes mentoring to be "the most appealing form of leadership development for young adults."

[from Barna Research]

11:16:47 AM #  comment []

Is it just me, or is there some special tendency for Christians to get stuck in the past? Witness the fact that nearly 400 years later, people still use the King James Bible, despite

  • archaic language that contemporary English speakers can't easily understand
  • known and well-attested improvements in the manuscript traditions
  • a multitude of contemporary translations based on better understanding of both the Biblical languages and the ancient world, and better translation practice

It wouldn't be so bad if it were just personal predilection, something like my tendency to wear a favorite old shirt even though it's worn and out of style. But i'm amazed there are still people who believe the KJV is the One True TranslationTM, never out-of-date, never to be changed. For them, the KJV itself seems to be an essential article of faith rather than a work of God's faithful people.

This whole rant was inspired by two things: 1) talking with donna about how many of her seminary colleagues, pastors and pastors-in-training, are still dyed-in-the-wool KJV users 2) reading the notes from the KJV  translators to their readers. This section is apparently rarely included in modern print publications of the KJV, though you can find it in reproductions of the original 1611 version (like these scans). Since their style is also 400 years old, it's not easy reading, but they make several important points, which i paraphrase here, corrupted linguistic-relativist that i am:

  • even the most humble ("meanest") translation still bears God's Word, just as a man may still be handsome though he has warts on his hand
  • they themselves make no claim that their translation is perfect, but admit it contains "some imperfections and blemishes "
  • in answer to their detractors who complained that they changed their translation during its production, they defend the necessity of improving something that is flawed

Edgar Goodspeed's comments on the "Translator's Preface" and why it should be included in print editions of the KJV are also interesting.

11:00:27 AM #  comment []

A picture named hieroglyphicBible-thumb.jpgAKMA points to an interesting pictoral expression of Scripture published in the American Treasures Exhibition of the Library of Congress. This is a page from A Curious Hieroglyphick Bible (from 1788). (this picture is linked to a larger image at the LOC, where you can see the details)

This raises all kinds of interesting questions for me. Some correspondences are more obvious: clouds for "heavens", a globe for "earth", sun, moon, stars. Others are not obvious at all: "God" is represented by the Hebrew characters for YHWH (the tetragrammaton).

For example, "Spirit" (of God) is pictorally translated into a descending dove, reflecting the Holy Spirit descending on Jesus at His baptism (see Luke 3:21-22). Apart from the obvious practical problem of how to represent something unseen like the concept of the Holy Spirit, there's also a chicken-and-egg pedagogical problem here: this picture only makes sense if you already know what the picture is trying to represent to you. Someone unfamiliar with the baptism story would naturally (mis-)understand this as "the dove of God", if they could make sense of it at all.

Some pictures may be worth a kilo-word, and the right picture can significantly lower the threshhold of understanding. But some concepts are just too complex for simple pictoral representation.

9:56:48 AM #  comment []