Sunday, May 25, 2008

This Crazy World #1

WORLD magazine is an outstanding bi-weekly news magazine that is written from the (evangelical) Christian perspective. I really enjoy reading it, since I can get major world news without the liberal spin employed by Time, Newsweek, et. al. Especially enjoyable are the regular features on things that Christians are doing all over the world to make the world a better place. WORLD does not often talk about the Orthodox Church, but when it does, it almost always does so in a positive light, such as in the recent article about Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow.

My favorite section of WORLD is "The Buzz: Quick Takes." This section features short articles about ironic or just flat-out crazy things that happen around the world. Beginning today, I am going to share with you the ones that I find the most interesting and/or humorous. Here are three from the most recent issue. Note: all articles are copyright 2008 by World Magazine, inc. I will put the text of the article in quotation marks, and my commentary will follow.

Cruel and Unusual Diet?
"An Arkansas inmate might want to delay his lawsuit against Benton County until there is more discernable proof--or at least less evidence for the defense. Broderick Lloyed Laswell filed a lawsuit against the county saying its jailhouse menu was leading him to starvation. Despite his claim, the man jailed for a fatal stabbing and beating currently weighs over 300 pounds. But Laswell says the jail's 3000-calorie-a-day meals aren't enought, claiming he weighed over 400 pounds when he got into the jail eight months ago. 'On several occasions I have started to do some exercising and my vision went blurry and I felt like I was going to pass out.' Laswell wrote in his lawsuit. 'About an hour after each meal my stomach starts to hurt and growl. I feel hungry again.'"
Boy, I feel sorry for him! Don't you? Perhaps we should each send him a box of Twinkies to help him survive this horrible punishment!

Adding to Scripture
"When talking about the environment, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif, likes to add in a spiritual twist: 'The Bible tells us in the the Old Testament. "To minister to the needs of God's creation is an act of worship. To ignore those needs is to dishonor the God who made us."' It's a nice sounding line, but it's not in the Bible. Nor does it really paraphrase any other passage, says Claude Mariottini, professor of Old Testament at Northern Baptist Theological Seminary. 'It is not in the Bible. There is nothing that even approximates that.'"
There is an old joke, not always true, but often so, that says, "How do you know when a politician is lying? Check to see if his/her lips are moving!" So what should we think when they start trying to quote Scripture from memory? I wonder what translation Madame Speaker was reading? Perhaps it is the TNIV (see below)!

The Translation Nobody Wanted
Most of you who are either Protestants or converts to Orthodoxy from a Protestant tradition are at least somewhat familiar with the New International Version (NIV), the most popular modern translation of the Bible. For years, this was the only translation I read. English-speaking Orthodox Christians do not normally use it, because it is often unreliable and biased toward Protestant interpretations, particularly in the New Testament (This topic is too involved to go into further in this post. Perhaps later I will do another post on Bible translations.)

Zondervan press, the publisher that produced the NIV, recently came out with a modified version of the NIV, called Today's New International Version (TNIV). It is very similar to the original (Yesterday's?) NIV, except that it uses "gender-inclusive language" (Sound of the Church Lady saying, "Now isn't that special?!?"). This was, of course, a big gamble, since most readers of the NIV are conservative Evangelicals, who are not really big on "gender-inclusive language" (and rightly so). As WORLD asks, "Would evangelical readers and churches go for the neutered version or not?"

Well, it turns out that "Sales have been slow in Christian bookstores that cater to the evangelical base. 'We...are not content with the current level of awareness and adoption,' Zondervan's Paul Caminetti told Christian Retailing. Booksellers interviewed by the magazine characterized TNIV sales as 'very little' and 'pretty unimpressive.' One retailer told the magazine, 'We hardly even stock that version any longer, having sent most of them back and declining to bring in most of the newer ones presented simply based on past sales history of the translation.""

As the great philosopher Gomer Pyle used to say, "Well surprise, surprise!!"


Paul said...

I am sure his cell mate is happier now that he has more room to move around in.

But what do the fathers say? Tame the stomach and you can tame the flesh. So perhaps what the prison system needs to do is help all the prisoners fast so when they are released they will be more able to control their passions? hummm

Yes, father James, I know. "Keep my eyes on my own plate."

Clint said...

We get WORLD, but for some reason, I seem to have gotten away from reading it much. At one point, I devoured it as soon as it arrived.

I think it started sounding a whole lot like Rush Limbaugh, without the sharp, biting wit. It might be me, but it almost started sounding like it was an apologist for the Republicans, rather than a news magazine.

But since we still get it, perhaps I should give it another shot...

Fr. James Early said...


Although you and I agree at least 90% of the time, this time I must respectfully disagree with you. WORLD magazine, at least in the year that I have been reading it, is far from being a mouthpiece for the Republican Party. Of course, since it is written by conservative Christians, it will tend to agree with the GOP much more often than it does with the modern Democratic Party. At the same time, however, the writers of WORLD are not afraid to take the GOP to task when necessary. Their commitment is first and foremost to the biblical worldview, not to any political party.

Also, the comparison to Rush Limbaugh is invalid. Rush spends about 75% of his time discussing political issues, and only about 25% on non-political topics. WORLD does just the opposite. That is part of why I like it--because it is not all about politics, which gets old to me pretty quickly.

As for the "biting wit," I find plenty of "wit" in the pages of WORLD, but without the "biting." The "biting" part is precisely why I quit listening to Limbaugh years ago--I got tired of his constant negativity and his delight in mocking and denigrating those with whom he disagrees (even if I generally disagree with them too). I found this negative style affecting my thinking.

I believe that Christians are called above all else to love God and our neighbor. But we cannot love our neighbor if we are constantly mocking and demonizing him or her. In WORLD, I see the approach that Jesus took toward those who opposed him: He was not afraid to say that they were wrong, but he loved and prayed for them anyway.

Please forgive me if this response offends anyone.

Clint said...

Fr. James,
I suppose we aren't really in disagreement here. I think my issue may be much more with Republicans than with World. (Having said that, in today's climate where most people think there are only two choices - Dem or Rep - I should point out that I am absolutely NOT a Democrat. At least not the modern variety).

I had more I was going to post, but I realized that it would be edifying to no one and helpful to less than that. So I will stop here.

But I did want to point out that you can probably bump our "agreement" percentage to 92 or 93%, since I agree with what you posted in your reply.

Anonymous said...

I have always considered myself either a liberal conservative or a conservative liberal. I detest politics because of the lies and defamation of character so easily slides out of the mouths of candidates and their parties in the name of getting elected or re-election. AMEN to you Fr. James on your feelings about listening to Limbaugh, and I would add that I have found many others , both conservative AND liberal equally offensive in their treatment of their fellow man.
As to the obese man who filed a lawsuit, I would like to know more about how his health needs are being addressed. How long did it take this man to lose 100 pounds? Anyone losing 25% of their body weight in a short period of time would need to be closely medically supervised. If this man does not have adult-onset diabetes already, he is almost certainly headed in that direction. One common symptom of a pre-diabetic condition is hypo-gycemia, where after a high-carbohydrate meal (which prison meals almost surely are) sugar levels drop abruptly, giving a person symptoms that can include severe shakiness and an inability to think clearly. While on the surface this story is funny, there may be more behind it than we realize. Okay, now you all have seen a touch of my liberal bias.

Charlene said...

Twice now my comments have been posted as anonymous when I thought SURE I had pressed "Name/URL". I generally do not think much of chickens, so is there any way to correct this or figure out what I am doing wrong? CHARLENE