This Week in Links

This week in links: An eclectic collection of news and views from the past week or so on faith, language, and literature, as well as other topics of interest.

Ben Ehrenreich argues that, contrary to popular opinion, the Book is “not dead yet” (to borrow Monty Python’s words). The rise of digital readers doesn’t mean the end of the physical tome, he writes in an article for The Los Angeles Review of Books, noting that this isn’t the first time the book has been pronounced dead. Maybe it’s just the Easter season, but something tells me it won’t be the last either.

Nearly 2000 years since Christ was nailed to a cross, the Gospel is still violently opposed in many places across the globe. Yesterday a bomb exploded at a Catholic church in Baghdad, wounding at least four people and disrupting celebrations of Easter. See the story by BBC News. A somber reminder that though “the world was made through Him, it did not recognize Him.” And yet also an opportunity for prayer for the persecuted and persecutors alike, that the Gospel would give hope to the former and new life to the latter.

University of Toronto linguist Keren Rice has won the Killam Prize for her career-length work on the Slavey language. The award comes with a $100,000 prize, and is a lifetime accomplishment award given out to Canadian researchers. On a personal note, I studied Rice’s work on Slavey during a morphology course a few years back. Glad to see her (and linguists in general) getting some recognition for their work. See the story in The Globe and Mail.

Ashely Thorne has an interesting reflection on the innateness of morality which uses the new Jane Eyre film as its jumping off point. I haven’t seen the film yet (though I have read the book), but even if you have no prior knowledge of the story, the article is still a good read. A small ode to the idea that the law is “written on our hearts.” Read it over at The Curator.

Confessionalist and Pietist: Chances are if you come from a Reformed or Lutheran background and are a frequenter of theological blogs, you’ve heard those words a fair bit. Michael Horton (host of the White Horse Inn) has an insightful discussion of the supposed dichotomy between the two sides, arguing that “the lines between ‘pietists’ and ‘confessionalists’ are not as thick as contemporary debates often suggest.” His point? These labels are commonly more harmful than helpful.

Finally this week, a Minneapolis church gave out prizes (including a t.v. and game system) to encourage attendence at its Easter service. In an article fittingly-titled “Church embraces bribery to draw Easter audience,” The Huffington Post tells the story of The Crossing church, which has in previous years given away cars at its Easter service. Pastor Eric Dykstra explained it this way: “I have no problem bribing people with crap in order [for them?] to meet Christ.”

This Week in Links: An eclectic collection of news and views from the past week or so on faith, language, and literature, as well as other topics of interest.

Ever wondered what its like to be a bureaucrat and a poet? The recent discovery of thousands of documents written by Walt Whitman during his work as a government clerk may shed light on the subject. Check out the details in Jennifer Howard’s “In Electric Discovery, Scholar Finds Trove of Walt Whitman Documents in National Archives” at The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Lutherans and Sexuality: Nearly two years after the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America affirmed homosexual marraige and the ordination of practising homosexual ministers, its Canadian counterpart – the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) -looks poised to take the same steps at its convention this summer. By contast, the Lutheran Church of Canada (LCC), which is also holding its national convention this summer, is expected to pass resolutions affirming the historic position of the Church on the subject of sexuality. You can read about it here at The Canadian Lutheran Online.

In another Lutheran-focused article, Robert Benne provides his take on divisions in American Lutheranism. His article “The Trials of American Lutheranism” appears in First Things, and suggests the “exiles” of the 1960s-70s theological wars in the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod were instrumental in steering the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America to its eventual split in 2009.

Prominent Saskatchewan poet Gary Hyland passed away just over a week ago. Hyland was instrumental in founding or helping found a number of cultural organizations, including the Saskatchewan Festival of Words and publishing house Couteau Books. He died at the age of 70 from Lou Gehrig’s disease, reports The Leader-Post.

A commentary piece for The Globe and Mail suggests that Canadian evangelical affinity for the Conservative Party is less about issues of sexuality or abortion, and instead more about the party’s defense of religious freedom (at home and abroad). Referencing a publication by the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, the article suggests that “the story of evangelical voting in the 2000s is not one of evangelicals flocking to the Conservatives but how the Liberal Party drove them away by mocking of Stockwell Day and making anti-evangelical statements.” By contrast, the author says, the Conservatives still enjoy “strong evangelical support because [Harper’s] party has shown that it gets evangelicals as a group, in a way that the Liberals – and much of the media – don’t.” An interesting take on the relationship between faith and politics in Canada.

In an article this past Wednesday, The Guardian tells the story of Nuumte Oote, a dying language whose last two speakers refuse to talk to each other. Like so many other langauge stories, this one seems destined to a tragic ending: previous attempts at language revitalization have petered out and died. The article – “Language at risk of dying out – the last two speakers aren’t talking” – also includes a link to UNESCO’s full list of endangered languages.

Finally this week, in Poland they recently began construction on the biggest statue of Jesus in the world. But don’t think this is a great national artistic project; from the sounds of it, the work is being done primarily by volunteers from the local town and prisoners on day release from the local jail. When asked about the reason for the statue, project founder Father Sylwester Zawadzki replied simply: “”It was Jesus’s idea: I was just the builder.” Read the full story in The Guardian‘s article “World’s biggest statue of Christ symbolizes church’s power in Poland.”

An eclectic collection of news and views from the past week on faith, language, and literature, as well as other topics of interest.

It looks like a new Narnia film is waiting in the wings. Walden Media president Micheal Flaherty says The Magician’s Nephew is the preferred choice for a fourth film in an interview with Christianity Today.

This one’s a little late, but the March edition of The Lutheran Witness contains an article on Natural Law from a Lutheran perspective. Our civil engagement, writes Korey D. Maas, must appeal to the law as written on the hearts of men rather than to the Scriptures per se. You can read it in “Natural Law, Lutheranism and the Public Good.”

BBC News Magazine reports on the latest additions to the Oxford English Dictionary include “LOL” and “OMG,” to the shock of language prescriptivists and general unsurprise of descriptivists everywhere. As OED editor Graeme Diamond explains, the purpose of the dictionary is to record words as they are used; not to prescribe which words should be used: “The word is common, widespread, and people understand it.” And so it makes it in.

Jessa Crispin has a thoughtful take on the glut of bad books published these days. A selection: “The difference is that now whatever you can scribble on paper or type on your computer, you might as well publish as a book. What was once fantasy — becoming a published writer — now can be reality. Sorta. You and your book have to face that din and most likely will get lost in it.” It’s all in an article entitled “A Sea of Words” over at The Smart Set.

Self-described churchgoing nonbeliever Martin Rees has won the Templeton prize. The million pound prize is awarded annually to an individual who, according to the official website, “has made an exceptional contribution to affirming life’s spiritual dimension, whether through insight, discovery, or practical works.” The Guardian has a good story on Reese’s award, with links to an interview and the text of his acceptance speech.

And finally in other news, it was revealed this past Wednesday that a 75 year-old Georgian woman disabled internet access to all of of Armenia back in March. But this isn’t a case of high-tech electronic terrorism. The elderly woman was simply scavenging for copper when she accidentally cut though a very important fiber optic cable. Read all about it at The Guardian.

An eclectic collection of news and views from the past week on faith, language, and literature, as well as other topics of interest.

A recent study has predicted that the extinction of religion in Canada is drawing near. Canadian scholar Reginald W. Bibby has an excellent response in the Holy Post, calling the study’s conclusions “way off the mark.”

It’s April, and that of course means it’s National Poetry Month for book Canada and the United States. This one is more of a public service announcement than a link to an interesting article per se. If you’re in Saskatchewan, you might want to consider attending this event with readings by our newest poet laureate Don Kerr.  If you’re elsewhere in Canada and looking for a way to celebrate, you can check out The League of Canadian Poets’ reading calendar (it’s by no means comprehensive, but you might find a worthwhile event to attend).

Josh Cacopardo has an entertaining take on the benefits of e-readers (which include, he assures us, the ability to trick children into reading books: “Kids – let’s be honest – are not very smart,” he writes. “How hard can it be to trick them into reading a book just because it’s on a battery-operated screen?”). The article appears at The Curator and is entitled “The Willful Death of a Luddite”.

In honour of the 400th anniversary of its publication, The Globe Theatre in London has announced it will be reciting the King James Version of the bible in its entirety from Palm Sunday through Easter Monday. It’d be an excellent opportunity to experience the Scripture as most people originally experienced it: by hearing it read aloud.

BBC News reports the alleged discovery of what might be the oldest Christian texts in the world – possibly dating within decades of Christ himself. Whether the find turns out to be authentic – and whether the lead-plate books actually turn out to be Christian in origin – remains to be seen, as the texts, while Hebrew, are apparently written primarily in code.

Finally, the Associated Baptist Press reports that Westboro Baptist’s infamous “God hates fags” signs are actually the result of typographical errors; that they were instead intended to read “God hates flags” as a criticism of overseas sweatshops where many flags are made. “Phelps said protestors didn’t notice the error,” the article explains, “because they only see the back of the signs while they are holding them.” I’ll admit this one threw me for a loop (halfway through reading it I had to double-check that I was really on the Associated Baptist Press’ website and not a fake-news site), but then I got to the end which read: “Happy April Fools’ Day from your friends at Associated Baptist Press.” Ah, if only it were all true…

An eclectic collection of news and views from the past week on faith, language, and literature, as well as other topics of interest.

John Dyer discusses how the internet has changed theological debate in an thought-provoking article for Christianity Today entitled Not Many of You Should Presume to Be Bloggers.” I suppose I could attribute my own failure to write a full-length blog post this week to Dyer’s influence. It’s more likely, however, that four evenings straight of church functions played a bigger role.

The great wordsmith of of Canadian commentary, Rex Murphy, delivers a sophisticated and compelling article in The National Post which weaves together reflections on Ronald Rumsfeld’s memoirs and Israeli Apartheid Week. In the process, he asks why activists who feel so compelled to accuse Israel of human rights crimes are so silent on the more clear and undoubted violations of other nations. It’s all in “Rex Murphy: Alert me when we get to Saudi Arabian Gender Apartheid week.”

Okay, this one is actually from two week ago, but it’s still worth sharing anyway. Apparently C.S. Lewis’ long-lost translation of the Aeneid is not so lost after all. The translation, which was thought destroyed in a bonfire in 1964, was discovered spread throughout the papers Walter Hooper saved from that fire. Yale University Press is releasing it April 4 under the title C.S. Lewis’ lost Aeneid: Arms and the Exile, edited by A.T. Reyes. Check out Reyes’ article about the fascinating work of stitching back together Lewis’ (regrettably incomplete) take on the epic at the Yale Books blog.

In other news of the long-lost rediscovered, a group of researchers has recently claimed to have found the city of Atlantis… in a swamp in Spain. If true, it’s a somewhat inglorious resting place for the great empire of which Plato speaks. For all the info, check out The Telegraph‘s story “Lost city of Atlantis ‘buried in Spanish wetlands.'” If memory serves, this is the third such discovery of Atlantis since 2001. Good advice when it comes to news of underwater cities: don’t hold your breath.

The newest New International Version is set to hit stores this month. Unlike the TNIV, which was offered alongside the much-loved 1984 version, this new edition is set to entirely replace the earlier translation. So if you’re a fan of the old NIV, you might want to pick up a couple of copies sooner rather than later. Christian Today highlights the transition in its article “Out with the old, in with the new.”

And finally this week, pop music broke when Ark Music Factory went viral: see the Globe and Mail’s interactive article “Best of the Worst: An Ark Music Factory primer.”

An eclectic collection of news and views from the past week on faith, language, and literature, as well as other topics of interest. The first of what is to become a regular Friday feature.

Repentance taking too much time? Not a problem. The Moniter reports that a United Methodist church in Texas has taken to offering a Drive-Thru Ash Wednesday service. No word if you can get fries with that.

“As soon as the catastrophe came to be known / The alarm from mouth to mouth was blown, / And the cry rang out all o’er the town, / Good Heavens! the Tay Bridge is blown down.” It’s poetic gems like that which lead many to dub William McGonagall the worst poet of the English language ever. The Guardian reports that at the Ig Noble awards later this month, several previously unpublished poems by McGonagall will be read for the edification of all gathered. At the end of the event, all will rise and solemnly recite McGonagall’s most famous poem, the Tay Bridge Disaster. The date is set as March tenth greater by nine… “which will be remembered for a very long time.”

The Business Insider reports on the “10 Most Endangered Languages in the World.” It’s very likely at least some of the languages they list (with one speaker) are already extinct without linguists knowing. In any event these languages are a little beyond “endangered.” “Moribund” is the better term.

“The Holy Post” (religion blog of The National Post) reports that Canadian Anglicans (ACC) will be debating this summer whether to allow non-baptized to take part in Communion.

BBC News reports that a rare first edition of the King James Bible has been found in a village church in England. The discovery is all the more significant considering this year is the 400th anniversary since the translation was first published in 1611.

Finally, The Atlantic presents a brief commentary on Alexander Graham Bell’s notebooks, with plenty of “delightfully weird” sketches for your enjoyment. It’s fair to say that the artistic ability of inventors seems to have declined a bit since Da Vinci’s day.