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Menu John Calvin's Newsround

Here's our current selection of religious news stories culled from the media worldwide. Click on one of the titles below to jump to the full report. If you spot a story which is practically made for this page, please let us know by hitting this.



Non-stop Sermon Stops Motorway in its Tracks
Pilgrims Flock to Holiday Mecca
God Fails to Show on Channel 18

Preacher Moves in Mysterious Ways
Sermon Illustration Backfires
O Little Town of… Garland, Texas
Burial for Dead Tamagotchis
Och Aye, the Noo Testament

Smells and Bells for Gloucester Church
Holy Duster Hailed as 'a Blessing'
Chapter & Verse Man Wins $20,000
Dutch All Shook Up Over Weeping Elvis Statue
Priest Banned After One Mass Too Many

Versace Endorsement for Nativity Scene
'Throw Up' Chorister Thrown Out
Unholy Kissing at St Paul's
'Hands off!' says Robbed Rector
Bible Goes Tabloid Shock Horror!

Forcible 'Toronto Blessing' for Flight Attendant
Crackdown on New York Clergy
Spanish Curse Foils Book Thieves
Pope Blows in the Wind
Swarm of 'Saviours' Claim Ernie's Cash

Angels Rejoice Over Bikers' Bible
Icon's Dubious Track Record
Pulpit Blackmail
Big Black Book Kicks Butt
Bible Translators Klingon to Literalist Approach



Non-stop Sermon Stops Motorway in its Tracks

A minister notorious for his long sermons is planning to stop the bulldozers moving in on the site of new motorway – by preaching continually. Methodist minister Rev. David Shawcross claimed he would try to delay the start of work on the controversial Birmingham Northern Relief Road by invoking a 137-year-old law which states that a clergyman cannot be interrupted while preaching.

'I don't think people would like to interrupt a religious service, and as I am notorious for giving long sermons, I thought it might be one way to make it more awkward for those who want to clear the land and build the road,' he said. The father-of-two said he would preach until 'eternity' and may consider reading the entire text of the Bible in the sermon in a bid to stall bailiffs clearing the site.

Ship of Fools, 1st April 1998

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Pilgrims Flock to Holiday Mecca

A Hi-de-Hi style holiday camp experienced culture shock last week when it was taken over by 1,500 Iranians celebrating the Islamic new year. Windows on the two swimming pools at the Woolacombe Bay Holiday Parks in North Devon were blacked out as single-sex bathing returned to the English seaside.

The organizers designated one pool at the complex for men and another for women as the British-based Iranians moved into lodges, villas, apartments and mobile homes at the resort. The windows were covered to prevent any danger of members of the opposite sex catching glimpses of each other in bathing costumes. Saunas were also segregated.

The bars at the camp became teetotal and the Goodnight Inn pub had to be opened at 5.30 am for early prayers during the week, which was organised by the Iranian cultural charity Kanoon Tawhid. A television engineer was called in to adjust the reception on the camp to pick up the JJN Iranian satellite TV station, and Middle Eastern music was played on a tannoy system which normally pumps out pop music.

Park manager Mrs Helen Donhoe said: 'They were really nice and well behaved and not nearly as rowdy as our normal visitors.'

Ship of Fools, 1st April 1998

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God Fails to Show on Channel 18

The not entirely unexpected follow-on from the story we reported below

God missed an appointment on a Texan television station yesterday, forcing the Taiwanese sect leader who had predicted the Second Coming to admit he was talking nonsense.

Onlookers and supporters streamed into the Dallas suburb of Garland, where the 140 members of the True Way movement awaited the Almighty's appearance on Channel 18 at 12.01am. Church members, who moved to Garland because it sounded like 'God's land', filed into the home of their leader, a former social science professor named Chen Hengming, who says he fathered Christ.

Mr Chen, 42, had declared that God would presage his return to Earth with the TV appearance. When he failed to do so, the disappointed leader urged people to keep watching.

Mr Chen had planned to lead followers to heaven next year on flying saucers that would touch down on the shores of Lake Michigan. But True Way members – their movement is also called the God Saves the Earth Flying Saucer Association – insist they have no suicide plan.

The Times, London, 26th March 1998

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Preacher Moves in Mysterious Ways

John Holme, a 39 year-old software sales manager and Pentecostal lay-preacher took to the skies recently to deliver an airborne sermon. 'I wanted to get through to the kids on the council estates and needed something with some cred' he explained. 'I thought maybe if they heard this voice booming out of the sky they would think it was God.'

Sadly, the good Lord was not on his side when he took off from Old Sarum Airfield with an 8,000 paramotor – a motor-powered paraglider – strapped to his back. A gust of wind sent him flying off-course straight through a housing estate, where he narrowly missed trees, fences, chimneys and electric wires.

People on the Salisbury Castle Hill estate watched in horror as the preacher flew through their gardens six feet above the ground. Mr Holme eventually regained control, circled a couple of times and landed in a field. He also landed in court, charged by the aviation authority with flying too close to a populated area and straying into airspace over the airfield. He was fined £1050 and ordered to pay £250 costs.

Margaret and Alan Blue were at home when Mr Holme flew through their garden. 'Mrs Blue said he was so low that she had serious fears that he was going to collide with her bird table as he flew between the house and her chestnut tree', said Richard Griffiths, prosecuting council. 'She saw the pilot's face was frozen in fear.'

Mr Holme still harbours ambitious preaching plans. 'You must bring the word of God to people by moving with the times,' he said. He is now considering using a double-decker bus or a hot-air balloon as a pulpit.

Adapted from The Guardian, London, 13th March 1998

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Sermon Illustration Backfires

There can't be many clergypersons who have faced criminal charges over a sermon illustration – but Rev Earlsey White, a Church of Scotland minister, recently joined that exalted band.

In the middle of Rev White's sermon on religious persecution, preached before a congregation including small children, Matthew Smith, a former SAS soldier, burst into the sanctuary dressed in combat fatigues and armed with a 9mm handgun. The church was reduced to stunned silence as Smith blindfolded the minister and frogmarched him outside, pausing only to order the children to 'shut up'. A few moments later, two shots were fired outside the church – and then Rev White came back inside with the reassuring news: 'See, I am still alive!'

Sadly, the jury at Hamilton sheriff court was not reassured and found him guilty of terrifying the congregation, for which he was fined 500.

Ship of Fools, February 1998

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O Little Town of… Garland, Texas

See the follow-on to this story above

Anyone hoping to see a re-run of Bethlehem should make their way to the town of Garland in Texas by the end of March 1998. According to Hoh-Ming Chen, a spiritual leader from Taiwan, God will be reincarnated there as a human being on 31st March at 10.00am precisely, local time.

In a recent news conference, Chen, who led some 150 followers to the US from Taiwan, outlined the signs which will precede this momentous event. They include turbulent weather, heavenly writings in the skies, and… TV adverts on Channel 18. The adverts will be broadcast six days ahead of the birth. Says Chen: 'If you turn on your television and switch to Channel 18, you will see God making the advertisement that he is coming into the world. It is advertised by God himself.'

Adapted from Ali's Infinitely Weird Zone, February 1998

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Burial for Dead Tamagotchis

About 20 people have buried 'dead' Tamagotchis in southern Hungary at what an entrepreneur said was the continent's first cemetery for virtual pets. 'You died because of my teacher,' said one of the placards placed on the hillside in this small farming village, along with one of the plastic, egg-shell shaped electronic pet toys that have become a worldwide fad.

'The school director wouldn't let me feed you,' said another banner, while a third – purportedly written by the toy itself – said, 'You should have been more careful with me.'

The mourners were mostly schoolchildren, holding umbrellas in the driving rain, but included three professional women and a man dressed as Santa Claus. Dezso Pazaurek, 47, owner of a nearby campsite and restaurant, said he believed his just-opened Tamagotchi Cemetery was the first of its kind in continental Europe.

He claimed the cemetery services – including the fabrication of marble plaques and urns – were very modestly priced. But he said he would not mind if people who came to the cemetery also had a bite to eat in his restaurant, where diners are scarce in the winter months. 'There are plenty of empty seats,' he added.

Reuters, 21st January 1998

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Och Aye, the Noo Testament

The Glasgow dialect, one of the hardest versions of the English language for outsiders to understand, now has its own Bible. Compiled in a shortened version as a labour of love by a Church of Scotland elder, the version reads the way Glaswegians speak.

The creation story starts with: 'It wis a lang time ago, right enough – thoosands and thoosands o years since. There wis nuthin whaur the earth is the noo – absolutely nuthin at aw.' The 10 Commandments become 'God's Laws' and the last six of them put the rules this way: 'Love yer faither an mither; Nae murderin; Nae thievin; Nae lyin; Stick fast tae yer ain partner; Nae greedy habits.'

Jesus takes on a Glasgow accent, too. As he says to the lawyer at the end of the parable of the Good Samaritan: 'Right then, Jimmy, jist you dae the same!'

Crosslight, 1997

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Smells and Bells for Gloucester Church

A Gloucester church has found out the true meaning of 'smells and bells' after an ambitious plan to convert a toilet for wheelchair users went badly wrong. To expand the existing toilet, the builders had to take over part of the church bell chamber, to the great dismay of the church bell-ringers.

Now the only way some of the bells can be rung is if the bell-ringer stands on the toilet seat – which can be a problem if the seat is otherwise occupied. The vicar, Rev. Derek Sawyer, quips: 'We have a serious problem of knowing which chain to pull!' Pull the other one, vicar…

Ship of Fools, 23rd January 1998

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Holy Duster Hailed as 'a Blessing'

A cleaning lady is claiming a miracle after the face of Jesus appeared on her duster. Patricia Cole was busy polishing a brass rail, when the grime on the duster arranged itself into the familiar features of the Saviour. Now the staunch Roman Catholic has been told by her priest to count the holy duster as a blessing.

Mrs Cole, a cleaner with Leeds City Council for 17 years, was using metal polish to clean the foyer railings of the Planning Department building, when she was gripped by a strange feeling. 'I don't know why, but I had this urge to look at the cloth, and there was the face of Our Lord on the back,' she said. 'I just started shaking and couldn't do any more work because I went to pieces. I'm still shaking now. The face was so clear. I knew it was him immediately.'

Since then, the righteous rag has hardly been out of Mrs Cole's sight. 'I pinned it up in my cubby-hole until after work and then took it home. I'm carrying Our Lord's face with me everywhere at the moment – it's my lucky charm – but I am going to get it framed and put it up in my home.'

Monsignor Anthony Boylan, of St Anthony's Catholic Church, was delighted when he saw the miracle duster. 'I've told Patricia to regard this as a blessing,' he says. 'It is quite extraordinary. She shouldn't throw the cloth away. I hope that it has offered her comfort.'

Ship of Fools, 23rd January 1998

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Chapter & Verse Man Wins $20,000

The man who has made it his life's work to hold up a banner which simply reads 'John 3:16' at major sporting events has recently accepted $20,000 from the baseball team that confiscated his banner.

Rev. Guy Aubrey, a Tennessee pastor whose banner has even appeared on The Simpsons, turned up at the Riverfront Stadium, home of the Cincinnati Reds, for a World Series game in October 1990, armed with his 'John 3:16' banner. The officials who confiscated it told him that only 'baseball related' banners could be waved by fans. Undeterred, Aubrey later returned to the stadium with another banner which read 'Go Reds – John 3:16'.

In June 1997, a US District Court ruled that the Reds' policy over banners was unconstitutional, and Aubrey agreed to a $20,000 out-of-court settlement.

Ship of Fools, 6th January 1998

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Dutch All Shook Up Over Weeping Elvis Statue

They say he loves them tender: a bust of Elvis Presley in the southeastern Dutch town of Deurne reportedly is 'weeping' salty tears for his fans. The white statuette, decked out in a fur-trimmed cloak and framed by two pink candles, started weeping last week, owner Toon Nieuwenhuisen said in an interview that made front page news Monday across the Netherlands.

Far from being all shook up about it, Nieuwenhuisen has a simple explanation. 'He is crying for his fans all over the world. He knows how much they love him.' Nieuwenhuisen, an Elvis impersonator, who wears a late-Elvis era white satin jump suit and 1970s sunglasses, says he'll throw his house open to pilgrims. Hundreds of fans already have trekked through his tiny bedroom.

As for cynics who suggest the crying statue may be a publicity stunt, Nieuwenhuisen says the tears have not dried up despite a Dutch heat wave and the bright lights of television cameras. 'The water is salty – they are real tears,' he says.

Nando.net & The Associated Press, August 1997

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Priest Banned After One Mass Too Many

A priest was banned from the roads for a year when he was caught driving after drinking too much Holy Communion wine. Father Jacek Trochim, 62, was found by police to have consumed almost double the legal limit for drivers. He was reported by a motorist who saw him stumble on a garage forecourt when he stopped for petrol. Kidderminster magistrates' court was told that Father Trochim was committed to draining the Eucharistic cruet after Mass.

Most priests use a variety of wine specially produced for use at the altar which has a higher alcohol content than normal table wines. George Fitzgibbon, production director of Hayes & Finch, ecclesiastical suppliers of Liverpool, said its Eucharistic wine is 15 per cent by volume. He added that Mass was often celebrated at 6.30am.

Electronic Telegraph (Maurice Weaver), London, 11th December 1997

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Teresa, Diana and Versace Meet at the Manger

Italians are lining up to place Princess Diana, Mother Teresa, and designer Gianni Versace in the straw around the manger next to Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus. Ferrigno and his son Marco, the fifth and sixth generations of their family to hand-fashion creche figurines, are keeping to a 400-year old Neapolitan tradition in creating pieces that are closely tied to the day's events, not just the timeless Christmas story.

This year the Ferignos have some 350 orders to fill for clay and wire sculptures of Princess Diana, Mother Teresa, and Versace. 'They were figures held in high regard by Italians, Diana in particular,' Marco Ferrigno said. 'She was a normal person who became a princess, a fairytale that became a reality. Everyone secretly dreams about that.'

The store's wall-to-ceiling shelves are stocked with as many figures of simple folk hawking squid and figs as Magi and Holy Family. A nativity scene cut from cork features bloomers hanging on a clothesline, a scene more familiar to Neapolitans than cows munching hay from a manger. 'In Neapolitan creches, the sacred is central enough, but popular culture is identified with very strongly,' said anthropologist Alfredo Luombardozzi, at Rome's National Museum of Traditional and Popular Arts.

Associated Press (Frances D'Emilio), 14th December 1997 (spotted by Cynthia McFarland).

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'Throw Up' Chorister Thrown Out

An adult chorister was sacked from a cathedral choir because he had offered the boy singers 9 to be sick on a tour bus so he could get off and have a cigarette. Gavin Rogers-Ball, 30, a talented alto at Wells Cathedral, was also accused of reading Private Eye in the stalls and gossiping during evensong, an industrial tribunal heard yesterday.

But it was the 'act of corruption' on the journey home to Somerset after a performance in Germany that led to his dismissal. After Mr Rogers-Ball offered a 9 reward to anyone who would be sick, a ten-year old treble vomitted in the back of the bus. Mr Rogers-Ball initially refused to pay, but handed over the money several days after the boy's fellow pupils at Wells Cathedral Junior School threatened to go on strike.

The Times, London, 11th December 1997 (spotted by Phil Cansdale)

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Unholy Kissing at St Paul's

St Paul's Cathedral has ordered a crackdown on couples canoodling on the premises. The move comes after staff reported an increase last year in the number of courting couples using the cathedral for rendezvous. One helper said: 'I felt like I was working at the St Paul's "Mile High Club" over the last 12 months. As well as eating and smoking in the cathedral, we have had to sort out a great wave of over-amorous couples.'

Jim Robinson, who has worked as a steward at St Paul's for nearly 20 years, has stepped forward to stamp out such untoward behaviour. 'I'm now known as "Jingly Jim" because I jingle-jangle a large bunch of keys near couples whose passion is getting out of hand,' he said. 'If they continue, I have a quiet word in the gentleman's ear, asking him and his lady friend to take their courting outside.'

Although passionate kissing is prohibited, the cathedral authorities are delighted that men often propose marriage while on the cathedral's higher reaches. Another steward said that the most risqué sights reported last summer were to be found in the cathedral's rose garden. 'A lot of the ladies like to sunbathe,' he said, 'and the gardener often has the pleasant task of going over to ask them to adjust their garments.'

Electronic Telegraph (Chris Oliver Wilson), London, 12th January 1997

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'Hands off!' says Robbed Rector

A rector has called for the thieves who stole a set of 100-year-old figurines from his village church to have their hands cut off when they are caught. The Rev Robert McConachie, 56, rector of 11th century St Dunstan's Church, West Peckham, Kent, surprised his parishioners by invoking the biblical sanction after thieves stole the figurines of the 12 apostles from a ledge behind the altar.

Mr McConachie was so outraged by the theft that he has demanded retribution by referring his congregation to St Mark, Chapter 9, Verse 43: 'And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off. It is better for thee to enter into life maimed than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched.'

'Christ was clear on the matter and so am I,' Mr McConachie said at his vicarage yesterday. Asked whether he favoured one hand or both hands being chopped off, he replied: 'Well, I would start with one and see if it had the desired result.' He suggested that a state-appointed body should be created to perform the amputations. 'Not everyone would have the stomach for it,' he said.

Mr McConachie accepted that the Christian interpretation of the gospel was that the sinner should cut off his own hand and that it was the Muslim definition which justified the amputation of a limb by a third party. 'I suppose I am advocating the Muslim interpretation,' he said. 'I am sure that my Bishop and some of my parishioners would not agree but you can't expect thieves to cut off their own hands in this day and age.'

Electronic Telegraph (David Graves), London, 10th September 1997

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Bible Goes Tabloid Shock Horror!

The Old and New Testaments have been rewritten in the style of a tabloid newspaper, placed in chronological order and renamed The Bible Chronicle by a Church of England priest. The Rev Derek Williams, who is also a freelance writer, said the story and message were easier to understand in modern form. However, the graphic descriptions, complete with lavish illustrations and headlines such as 'Gang rape avenged by mass murder', will make traditionalists who favour the authorised King James version wince.

The story of King Solomon and his 700 wives is headed, 'Trouble and strife for king of many wives', while 'Dream ticket for sage who knew his onions' tells how Daniel was appointed to high office because of his interpretation of dreams. 'Noah's wet weather forecast gets frosty reception' refers to the ark, while the crucifixion is headed, 'Dark night of the soul as "Messiah" is executed on the cross'.

Some of the puns would make a tabloid sub-editor blush. The crossing of the Red Sea by the Israelites is headed, 'Stick-in-mud army watches as slaves walk on water to freedom'. Esau selling his birthright to Jacob for a mess of potage becomes, 'Esau in a stew as Jacob cooks the books again'.

Electronic Telegraph (John Capon), London, 12th October 1997

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Forcible 'Toronto Blessing' for Flight Attendant

Robert H. Schuller, pastor of the 9,400-member Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, California, the largest Reformed Church in America congregation, has been fined $1,100 for disrupting a June 28 United Airlines Los Angeles to New York flight.

According to a misdemeanor complaint – which was dropped when Schuller apologized and agreed to pay the fine – the Hour of Power preacher 'made numerous negative comments' about the quality of the in-flight service and shook a flight attendant 'back and forth a number of times, causing his head to move up and down in a vigorous manner.'

Schuller, 70, apologized August 13 for inconveniencing passengers and crew, but said, 'I am a hands-on person.' The attendant, Khaled Elabiad, 33, filed a $5 million lawsuit August 22, saying he has suffered neck and back pain, and has been too traumatized to return to work.

Christianity Today, 6 October 1997

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Crackdown on New York Clergy

Police in Brooklyn, New York, have arrested Rev. Chester LaRue, the rector of St John's Episcopal Church, for selling cocaine out of his church. When police arrived to arrest the erring priest, LaRue was seated at his desk, writing a sermon while smoking crack.

The arrest is only one of a series of scandalous incidents to hit the diocese in recent months. Two other Episcopalian priests in Brooklyn are currently being investigated for tax fraud and sexual misconduct.

Bishop Orris G. Walker Jr. explained that despite appearances, he had not been negligent in his oversight of the priests – just the opposite. 'One of my sins is I'm a workaholic,' Walker said. 'I need to take some time for me.'

Weekly Standard, 13th October 1997

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Spanish Curse Foils Book Thieves

After years of trying without success to stop clergymen stealing from his shelves, an antiquarian religious bookseller has at last stumbled on a solution which he claims is working – a 16th-century Spanish curse: 'For him that stealeth a Book from this Library, let it change into a serpent into his hand and rend him… Let Bookworms gnaw his Entrails in token of the Worm that dieth not…

Suddenly religious shoplifters have decided to go and sin no more. Two penitents have even sent back large parcels of books.

John Pendlebury, 34, owner of a second-hand bookshop in Stamford Hill, North London, said he had tried a surveillance camera and confrontation. He posted on his shelves copies of the Eighth Commandment, 'Thou shalt not steal'. But still the thefts continued. On one day alone, he apprehended an Anglican priest and a rabbi stealing books from the Psalms section. On another occasion, an entire half shelf of books disappeared.

With thefts costing him hundreds of pounds a year, Mr Pendlebury was stumped until a friend visited the monastery of San Pedro in Barcelona. 'He saw the curse in the monastery's library and immediately thought of me,' Mr Pendlebury said. He decided to try the curse and to his surprise the thefts ceased instantly.

'It is not meant to be an actual curse on anyone,' he said. 'It is rather meant to prod people's consciences. I have not noticed any books at all going missing in the last two or three months.'

The Times, London, 4th October 1997

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Pope Blows in the Wind

The Pope took the opportunity to 'put Bob Dylan right', when the two megastars headlined a gig together last week in Bologna. Dylan met His Holiness on stage during a Catholic youth event before playing three of his best-known songs. After the two men had shaken hands and exchanged a few words, the Pope stepped up to the microphone and took the singer to the theological cleaners.

'You say the answer is blowing in the wind, my friend,' he observed. 'So it is. But it is not the wind that blows things away, it is the wind that is the breath and life of the Holy Spirit, the voice that calls and says, Come!'

Clearly enjoying the thunderous applause that greeted these words, the Pope continued in a style that would not have disgraced a TV Evangelist: 'You ask me, how many roads must a man walk down before he becomes a man? I answer: one! There is only one road for man, and it is the road of Jesus Christ, who said I am the Way and the Life.'

Unsurprisingly, Dylan was not seen to be taking notes for revised lyrics to his song.

Ship of Fools, 29th September 1997

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Swarm of 'Saviours' Claim Ernie's Cash

Hundreds of would-be Jesus Christs claimed a fortune left by a religious recluse for the Messiah's second coming. A door-to-door salesman was one of those who said he should get Ernest Digwood's 26,406.

Retired teacher Ernest died in 1976 aged 81. He spent his last years in a tent in the living room of his Portsmouth home surrounded by crucifixes. In his bequest, which had a 21-year deadline, he said the cash should be invested in case Jesus turned up and needed it. Most of the money has gone to relatives who challenged the will.

Daily Mirror, London, 24th September 1997

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Angels Rejoice Over Bikers' Bible

A Bible for bikers in which Christ's blood is compared to the oil in a motorbike will be released by the Bible Society later this month. The idea is that of Alan Lowther, an atheist turned Christian minister, president of the Christian Motorcyclists' Association and the 'driving force' behind the new Manual for Life.

The Bible Society, whose patrons include the Queen and Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, says the version of the New Testament will 'make Scripture more real and appealing to this sub-culture'. It uses the controversial Contemporary English Version of the New Testament which critics last year denounced as the 'soap opera' Bible for its simplified prose. On the cover is a colourful collage of motorcycles and the message: 'Discover the freedom of the open road.'

An introduction to the Manual for Life reads: 'As oil is essential to the running of an engine, so blood is vital for life. 'You check your oil regularly on the bike and repair any leaks: you stop the bleeding when you cut yourself. There is one person, however, who let himself bleed to death in order to give us life... This book tells his story.'

Electronic Telegraph (Catherine Elsworth), London, 18th May 1997

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Icon's Dubious Track Record

Socialist Party officials have dissuaded Greece's first lady from flying a sacred icon to Athens in a desperate attempt to save the life of her husband, Andreas Papendreou. Mimi Papendreou wanted to bring the icon of the Virgin Mary from its sanctuary on Tinos to the intensive care unit of the Onassis Heart Centre, where Mr Papendreou is critically ill.

The guardians of this religious treasure were prepared to send it to Athens, but only if the normal protocol was observed. It would have meant laying on a guard of honour with a full military band saluting the icon when it reached the mainland.

Perhaps it was the icon's track record that convinced Mrs Papendreou to call off the plans. It has left Tinos only twice, to try to save the ailing King Paul of Greece and to help Athens Panathanaikos football team in a match at Wembley. King Paul died and Panathanaikos lost.

UK Newspaper report

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Pulpit Blackmail

A Vicar has used his pulpit to warn gossips not to spread rumours of an alleged affair between him and a churchwarden. The Rev Timothy Wilby, 36, six weeks into his post at St Leonard's Parish in Preston, decided that he had had enough of stories linking him to Pamela Wrigley, a married woman.

He said in Sunday's Lent sermon on sin: 'If you don't stop talking about me and the churchwarden, I won't give you Communion. If I were a Muslim, I could wish that your fingernails fall out.' He said later: 'I wanted to quash rumours about myself. I hoped some of the things I said would be taken in a light-hearted manner.'

UK Newspaper report, 1996

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Big Black Book Kicks Butt

A new version of the Bible, the Black Bible Chronicles, has been released by a New York publisher. The book translates the stories of the Bible into the street language of young black people in modern-day America. In a foreword to the book, Andrew Young, the former mayor of Atlanta, says that in order to be 'truly relevant' to young people, the Bible 'must be in a language familiar to their culture.'

The book's chapter titles tell such famous stories as 'Cain Wastes Abel', 'Abram Kicks Some Butt', and 'Israel Getting Down With the Wrong Folks'. And the Ten Commandments are retold for the South Bronx…

'I am the Almighty, your God, who brought you outta Egypt when things were tough. Don't put anyone else before Me.'

'You shouldn't dis the Almighty's name, using it in cuss words or rapping with one another. It ain't cool, and payback's a monster.'

'Don't waste nobody.'

'Don't mess around with someone else's ol' man or ol' lady.'

'Don't go 'round telling lies on your homebuddies.'

Harper's, January 1995

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Bible Translators Klingon to Literalist Approach

A controversy has developed over how to translate the Bible into Klingon, the language of the warlike alien race that has been developed for the Star Trek science fiction series. The scholarly quarrel will result in not one, but two translations of the scriptures.

Citing deep philosophical differences with fellow scholars, Glen Proechel, a language instructor at the University of Minnesota, has resigned from a group that has been developing a literal translation. 'It's not going to make any sense,' Proechel said of the literal approach, 'It will be describing things that don't exist in their culture.' Dr. Lawrence Schoen, a linguist overseeing the literal translation, disagrees. 'You don't mess around with the Bible.'

The following line from Mark exemplifies the differing approaches to translation: 'We have five loaves and two fishes.' Since Klingon has no words for loaves or fish, literalists use generalized words for 'grain food' and 'water animal.' The paraphrased version, however, uses concepts that Klingons would be familiar with: 'We have only five blood pies and two serpent worms.' Also, since there are plenty of lambs in the Bible but reportedly none on the Klingon world, Proechel substitutes the word 'targh' – a vicious, ugly, piglike animal.

The translation itself appears much like the following passage from John 3:16, which no doubt loses some of the beauty of the language:

'toH qo' muSHa'qu'mo joH'a', wa' puqloDDaj nobpu' ghaH 'wj ghaH Harchugh vay', vaj not Hegh ghaH, 'ach yIn jub ghajbej ghaH.'

Wall Street Journal, 14th June 1994

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