Social Media and Spiritual Problems — from Doy Moyer’s Mind Your Faith blog
Worth a few moments of your time …
It is amazing how certain comments stick in the mind. It is hard to know whether it is the context in which they are spoken or the sheer simplicity with which the comment nails its intended target, but nonetheless some things remain with you. I am regularly reminded of one of the funniest, and yet searingly clear, comments I received whilst engaged in mission work.
The context was my regular pilgrimage to the Holy Land; or, Llandudno as it is more commonly known. I was co-leading a week of mission. Much of the work involved cold-contact evangelism; approaching folk on the promenade and trying to generate conversation. The aim would be to share something of Christ and perhaps leave them with a Christian book or piece of literature to read in their own time. Sometimes conversations take off – often in ways you wouldn’t expect – and excellent theological discussion can…
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Hazor excavations – from Ferrell Jenkins’ blog
Hebrew University announces this morning the discovery of a statue of an Egyptian official at Tel Hazor.
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Jerusalem, July 25, 2016 — In a historic find, a large fragment of an Egyptian statue measuring 45 X 40 centimeters [about 18 x 16 inches], made of lime-stone, was discovered in the course of the current season of excavations at Tel-Hazor, north of the Sea of Galilee in Israel. Only the lower part of the statue survived, depicting the crouching feet of a male figure, seated on a square base on which a few lines in the Egyptian hieroglyphic script are inscribed.
The archaeologists estimate that the complete statue would equal the size of a fully-grown man. At present only a preliminary reading of the inscriptions has been attempted, and the title and name of the Egyptian official who originally owned the statue, are not yet entirely clear.
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At Home on the Mississippi — Currier & Ives Print
It is 2,320 miles from its headwaters in Minnesota to its outlet in the Gulf of Mexico. Its watershed covers all orpart of 31 states and parts of twoCanadian provinces. That watershed extends from the Rocky Mountains in the west to the western side of the Appalachians in the east. All told, the watershed covers 1,245,000 square miles. The discharge into the Gulf of Mexico varies between 200 and 700 thousand cubic feet per second. You have probably guessed that I am writing about the Mississippi River, a name which derived from a Native American word meaning “Great River.”
Water draining into the storm drain at the corner of our lot ends up in this watershed. Growing up in Youngstown, the Mahoning River was part of this watershed. So are the Scioto and Olentangy Rivers, within 5 miles of our…
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I used this essay for years on the first day of class. It is unfortunately as relevant today (if not more so) than it was three decades ago. “We ain’t gettin’ no smarter.”
In light of the recent episode of the Jimmy Kimmel show in which he turned up evidence of complete ignorance of the fact that Obamacare and the Affordable Care Act are the same thing, I thought of this old essay I wrote almost three decades ago. We ain’t gettin’ no smarter.
No Allusions in the Classroom
by Jaime M. O’Neill
Appeared in Newsweek, September 23, 1985
Josh Billings, a 19th-century humorist, wrote that it is better “not to know so much than to know so many things that ain’t so.” Recently, after 15 years of teaching in community colleges, I decided to take a sampling to find out what my students know that ain’t so. I did this out of a growing awareness that they don’t always understand what I say. I suspected that part of their failure to understand derived from the fact that they did not catch my allusions. An allusion to a writer, a geographical locality or a historical episode inevitably produced telltale expressions of bewilderment.
There is a game played by students and teachers everywhere. The game goes like this: the teacher tries to find out what students don’t know so that he can correct these deficiencies; the students, concerned with grades and slippery self-images, try to hide their ignorance in every way they can. So it is that students seldom ask pertinent questions. So it is that teachers assume that students possess basic knowledge which, in fact, they don’t possess.
Last semester I broke the rules of this time-honored game when I presented my English-composition students with an 86-question “general knowledge” test on the first day of class. There were 26 people in the class; they ranged in age from 18 to 54. They had all completed at least one quarter of college-level work.
Here is a sampling of what they knew that just ain’t so:
Creative: Ralph Nader is a baseball player. Charles Darwin invented gravity. Christ was born in the 16th century. J. Edgar Hoover was a 19th-century president. Neil Simon wrote “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”; “The Great Gatsby” was a magician in the 1930s. Franz Joseph Haydn was a songwriter during the same decade. Sid Caesar was an early roman emperor. Mark Twain invented the cotton gin. Heinrich Himmler invented the Heimlich maneuver. Jefferson Davis was a guitar player for The Jefferson Airplane. Benito Mussolini was a Russian leader of the 18th century; Dwight D. Eisenhower came earlier, serving as a president during the 17th century. William Faulkner made his name as a 17th-century scientist. All of these people must have appreciated the work of Pablo Picasso, who painted masterpieces in the 12th century.
My students were equally creative in their understanding of geography. They knew, for instance, that Managua is the capital of Vietnam, that Cape Town is in the United States and that Beirut is in Germany. Bogota, of course, is in Borneo (unless it is in China). Camp David is in Israel, and Stratford-on-Avon is in Grenada (or Gernada). Gdansk is in Ireland. Cologne is in the Virgin Islands. Mazatlan is in Switzerland. Belfast was variously located in Egypt, Germany, Belgium and Italy. Leningrad was transported to Jamaica; Montreal to Spain.
And on it went. Most students answered incorrectly far more than they answered correctly. Several of them meticulously wrote “I don’t know” 86 times, or 80 times, or 62 times.
They did not like the test. Although I made it clear that the test would not be graded, they did not like having their ignorance exposed. One of them dismissed the test by saying, “Oh, I get it; it’s like Trivial Pursuit.” Imagining a game of Trivial Pursuit among some of today’s college students is a frightening thought; such a game could last for years.
But the comment bothered me. What, in this time in our global history, is trivial? And what is essential? Perhaps it no longer matters very much if large numbers of people in the world’s oldest democratic republic know little of their own history and even less about the planet they inhabit.
But I expect that it does matter. I also suspect that my students provide a fairly good cross section of the general population. There are 1,274 two-year colleges in the United States that collectively enroll nearly 5 million students. I have taught at four of those colleges in two states, and I doubt that my questionnaire would have produced different results at any of them. My colleagues at universities tell me that they would not be surprised at similar undergraduate answers.
My small sampling is further corroborated by recent polls which disclosed that a significant number of American adults have no idea which side the United States supported in Vietnam and that a majority of the general populace have no idead which side the United States is currently supporting in Nicaragua or El Salvador.
Less importantly, a local marketing survey asked a sampling of your computer whizzes to identify the character in IBM’s advertising campaign that is based on an allusion to Charlie Chaplin in “Modern Times.” Few of them had heard of Charlie Chaplin; fewer heard or knew about the movie classic.
Common Heritage: As I write this, the radio is broadcasting the news about the Walker family. Accused of spying for the Soviets, the Walkers, according to a U.S. attorney, will be the Rosenbergs of the ‘80s. One of my students thought Ethel Rosenberg was a singer from the 1930s. The rest of them didn’t know. Communication depends, to some extent, upon the ability to make (and catch) allusions, to share a common understanding and a common heritage. Even preliterate societies can claim the shared assessment of their world. As we enter the postindustrial “information processing” age, what sort of information will be processed? And, as the educational establishment is driven “back to the basics,” isn’t it time we decided that a common understanding of our history and our planet is most basic of all?
As a teacher, I find myself in the ignorance-and-hope business. Each year hopeful faces confront me, trying to conceal their ignorance. Their hopes ride on the dispelling of that ignorance.
All our hopes do.
We should begin servicing that hope more responsibly and dispelling that ignorance with a more systematic approach to imparting essential knowledge.
Socrates, the American Indian chieftain, would have wanted it that way.
It has been eight months since I last posted anything on this blog. As I explained at the time, our oldest son was seriously ill and could not be left alone, so I did what any parent would do—I gave up cycling, blogging and a lot of other things to make sure that either my wife or I could be with our son at all times.
Though he only looks like a student in junior high school, our son is now 36 years old. He was born with multiple birth defects as a result of German Measles (Rubella). Before he was born someone with German Measles got near my wife during her second trimester and our son was born with all of the normal problems that accompany congenital rubella syndrome (deafness, partial blindness, heart abnormalities, developmental delay and a host of other conditions). Last August his health…
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From Matt Bassford’s excellent blog, His Excellent Word
Please Don’t Steal Hymns!
Monday, September 1, 2014
If you copy or distribute a copyrighted hymn without the copyright holder’s permission, you are breaking the law. ALWAYS ask permission before copying or distributing!
New hymns and praise songs are exciting. Nearly all of us who love the worship of God love the opportunity to “sing a new song”, and we are eager to introduce these new songs in our own assemblies and other devotional settings. This eagerness is commendable. However, we must make sure that our eagerness does not lead us to violate the law.
At the bottom of most modern hymns, there appears a notice that looks something like the following:
© Copyright 2014 by John Smith, Owner. All Rights Reserved.
It indicates that the author has chosen to copyright the hymn. Legally speaking, such a copyright notice is unnecessary. Since 1989, United States law has provided that any creative work is automatically copyrighted, whether the creator includes a notice or not. However, most hymnists include the notice anyway, to preclude the possibility of someone unintentionally infringing their copyrights. As a practical matter, it is safe to assume that any work copyrighted 1923 or later is still under copyright.
Under Sec. 106 of Title 17 of the United States Code, the copyright owner has the exclusive rights to do the following:
- “Reproduce the copyrighted work in copies or phonorecords.” In other words, if you make a copy of a copyrighted hymn without the owner’s permission (whether by transcription or scanning, photocopying, etc.), you are breaking the law. If you make a recording of a copyrighted hymn without the owner’s permission, you are breaking the law.
- “Prepare derivative works based upon the copyrighted work.” In other words, if you change the words of a copyrighted hymn without the owner’s permission, you are breaking the law. If you rearrange the harmony of a copyrighted hymn without the owner’s permission, you are breaking the law.
- “Distribute copies or phonorecords of the copyrighted work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership.” In other words, if you photocopy a copyrighted hymn and pass it out at a singing without the owner’s permission, you are breaking the law. If you e-mail a PowerPoint or PDF of a copyrighted hymn to a friend without the owner’s permission, you are breaking the law.
- “Perform the copyrighted work publicly.” In other words, if you sing a copyrighted hymn in an assembly without the owner’s permission (which is presumed to be granted when the owner grants permission to copy), you are breaking the law.
- “Display the copyrighted work publicly.” In other words, if you make a PowerPoint of a copyrighted hymn without the author’s permission, you are breaking the law.
Copyright law is civil rather than criminal, so there is no prison time attached to any of these offenses. However, any of these actions gives the copyright owner grounds for a lawsuit. According to 17 U.S.C. §§ 504-505, statutory damages may be as high as $150,000, in addition to court costs and attorney’s fees.
Now, on the basis of 1 Corinthians 6:1-8, neither I nor any other hymnist I know would sue a brother in Christ for copyright infringement, but it is certainly ungodly to treat our forbearance as license to violate the law! According to Romans 13:1, God commands Christians to obey the law. Copyright violators, then, engage in activity that is not merely illegal but also sinful.
The cure for the disease is simple. Before copying or distributing a copyrighted hymn, always ask the owner’s permission! In our digitally connected age, this is much less onerous than it has ever been before. All the hymnists I know have e-mail addresses or Facebook accounts.
I have never yet refused permission to someone who wanted to copy or even to record one of my hymns, and (even though hymnists do have the Scriptural right to ask compensation), I have never asked a penny in return. I also make the effort to reply to permission requests in as timely a fashion as possible. Once again, this is generally true of the writers with whom I am familiar. Alternatively, websites such as songsofthechurch.org have secured the relevant permissions from copyright owners and offer the opportunity to download clean copies for a nominal fee.
All hymnists write because we want our hymns to be sung. However, we also want our work protected, from everything from innocent transcription errors to would-be editors who think they can improve our hymns by rewriting them. Copyright is the legal means we have to make sure that the integrity of our work is preserved. It is ethical, legal, and godly for all who want to use our hymns to honor those copyrights, and ignorance of the law is no excuse. All of us should want to glorify God with new hymns, but we must make sure that we glorify Him with our actions too, by obeying the law of the land.