Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Virtual Friendship?

Let’s begin with a reasonable and safe prediction: you are not likely to finish reading this blog. That is not merely because of the content (though I concede it doesn’t help). It is based on reliable statistics that indicate how attention spans have shortened.

It may be an exaggeration to suggest, as the “Atlantic Monthly” provocatively proposed a few months ago, that Google is making America stupid. But the internet giant and it’s coconspirators, are rendering us more restless and as in the tile of Maggie Jackson’s recent book, distracted. Multitasking has fragmented our thinking, and moments of reflection are punctured by the urgent text message. Concentration drifts after a few paragraphs (or sentences), and we have lost the art of deep and thoughtful reading.

I have a “friend” who has 1,035 Facebook friends. By Facebook standards, that is probably unremarkable. At the same time of course, it is also a lie! Friendship is humanly impossible on such a mass scale. Those who are really close to you wonder why they learned of your mothers death or some other serious event from your Twitter that instantly informed untold masses.

I myself have accumulated more than I can handle, a quarter of whom I have never met. On at least a couple of occasions I have confirmed a friendship with a perfect stranger fully convinced the person was somebody else. We call them friends but lets be honest, the friends on Facebook are not people we would be ready to donate a kidney to. The paradox is that it links us to people far away while it separates us from whom we are the closest. We are increasingly isolated even when we make the false boast that we have overcome time and distance and “reconnected”.

Even some churches have reached out on Facebook, recording their services, people log on and watch the videos and somehow convince themselves that they are attending a church. but church, to the surprise of some, is not someplace you go or even someplace you watch. The church is God’s assembled people in reality and not in some virtual world where we are more often than not disconnected with reality.

Even the more popular today than it ever was “e mail” has become at times “e conflict”. Hardly anyone who has ever used e mail has escaped someone taking something you wrote the wrong way because there was no facial expression or verbal coaching of the comment into its proper context. Is it any wonder, that our Lord in Matthew 18 commands reconciliation through direct, face to face engagement?

Virtual pet stores, virtual zoos, virtual farms and flower shops. The virtual sending of hearts and kisses. It all tends to alienate us from what is really going on in the real world with real people. The time that we spend on such things leaves far less time for us to interact and engage genuine friends who are few and far between and extremely rare to come by. When one is spending more time in the virtual world than say in Gods word we can see the effect this will eventually have on the church at large.

I do not wish to imply that there are not legitimate uses of social networking. I recently started a Facebook page for my church, I have one of my own and of course I have this blog. I think that actually goes to prove my point. As with everything, moderation is the key. Our challenge is to reckon the multitasking, split screen, ring tone culture we are immersed in and “reconnect” with flesh and blood “friends”. You’ve already made a small step by getting through this blog. Now go and call someone, invite someone to dinner, or just drop by for a visit. Oh, and remember the sunglasses and sun screen. It’s probably been a while since you’ve been outside.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The King James only controversy

The King James controversy has been raging for years I am told. Frankly I never noticed. Probably because it has never been an issue with me or the church I pastor. A little over a year ago a close friend and his family switched churches because of distance restrictions and his new church only uses the KJV and frankly teaches this is the only inspired interpretation/translation. On their web site, even before you get to anything they believe about the Lord you will see a statement that their church adheres only to the King James bible. I felt I had to do some digging and would like to post just a few things I found.

Lets assume for the moment that the KJV is in fact an inspired translation of the original languages. I say ‘an” rather than the only here because I have yet to hear anyone else ever make this claim. If it is an or the only inspired translation, than we can expect one sure thing. It would be perfect in every way of interpretation. We know this because The Holy Spirit does not make mistakes. So lets see if this holds true.

At last count some have come up with just a little over 5,000 inaccuracies. Granted some are spelling and others grammatical so we will just look at what I see as genuine translation errors. First, where ever the words baptizo and baptisma appear, the words are transliterated as baptize and baptism respectively. Why not translate these words literally as immerse and immersion? Well, it was to avoid any controversy over the Anglican practice of effusion which is a pouring and not an immersion. Here was have the translation being influenced by church practice and not the church being influenced by what the word actually says. Basically what we have is an Anglican translation that was very much an answer to the newly translated Douay-Reims bible of the Catholic church. But lest continue.

The original 1611 version included the Apocryphal books most non catholic assemblies reject as uninspired. This can only be attributed to the fact that King James I was at the time a baptized Catholic. The 1611 KJV was translated from one ancient Greek MSS called the Textus Recepticus, assembled by the scholar Erasmus to translate a more current Latin Bible than the Vulgate. However the Textus Recepticus compares no more than six (6) Greek manuscripts from the 11th through 15th centuries. One of these manuscripts, the Miniscule 2 is noted for having a lot of errors.

The dedicatory note prefacing the 1611 version states that it compared the English translations of the time. in fact the Bishop’s Bible (an updated Tyndale) was a baseline English translation used for careful comparison as the translating panel of 56 scholars worked their way through the foreign text. Tyndale’s text is credited for effecting about 85% of the King James text. Basically it is a revised Tyndale version at best.

Have you ever noticed the difference between Old Testament and New Testament naming of the same character? I suppose the translators of the KJV did not recognize that the Hebrew and Greek names might regard the same persons. Jacob becomes James (more likely to honor the current King), Zechariah becomes Zecharias, Jonah becomes John, Elijah becomes Elias and Joshua becomes Jesus.

Then there is the “ghost” haunting the pages of the New Testament. How or why the translators used the Germanic “Ghost” so often rather than the more accurate “Spirit” baffles most scholars. The Germanic word Ghost means a guest, but that is not what the original Greek word meant. Then there is the appearance of the word “Easter” in Acts 12:4 in reference to the Passover of the Jews. The term itself is of pagan origin and at its best refers to a Christian celebration. How could it ever be confused with the Jewish Passover, which would have been the legitimate translation.

To repeat my original thought, if this were in fact an inspired translation we would expect not to find such errors. I personally like listening to someone read the King James. It’s poetic language just seems natural when quoting scripture. But to demand that this is the only translation anyone use, or to say all other translations are either faulty or inadequate smacks of ignorance. As one biased fellow once actually said, “if it was good enough for the apostle Paul, it’s good enough for me”. Let me know what you think.