Posts Tagged ‘mobile phones’

Scarlett Johannson and Bill Murray

I noticed the other day that people seem to have been reading a post I wrote in November 2009 called Who has access to the Bible and who hasn’t?

The good news since then is that the number of languages with a full Bible has risen from 451 to 457 and New Testaments from 1,185 to 1.211. Positive yes, but not exactly world shattering statistics when we remember that there are around 6,860 languages used on planet earth!

Then my attention was drawn to an article in The Independent entitled Lost and found in translation which told me stories like…

…the television journalist who enraged Boris Yeltsin by comparing him to a hippopotamus, by which he meant that he had thick skin.

The couple who took their vows in the Maldives were shocked to find – when friends watched the wedding video on their return – that the smiling hotel staff who acted as witnesses were actually calling them swine and infidels.

…the failure of the mobile phone slogan “The Future’s Bright, the Future’s Orange” to grasp the political sensitivities of Northern Ireland.


I love the final paragraph… and especially the perhaps ambiguous final sentence. I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing if it wasn’t for John Wycliffe!

Translation gaffes work because we are still slightly suspicious of linguists. Whenever the Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis is described as a Mandarin-speaker, it sounds as if she acquired mysterious Wallis Simpson-like “skills” which we had better not talk about. Yet we should not underestimate the career-enhancing effect of a good translation. Just look what happened to John Wycliffe.

To read the up to date stats on Bible translation, go to

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Not book – but a Nook!

The Nook ebook reader

I had never heard of a Nook until yesterday. Nooks and crannies, yes, but an ereader Nook which apparently fills a market niche somewhere between a Kindle and an iPad was new to me.

This story popped up in Christianity Today…

A couple of Sundays ago, my husband, son, and I enacted a mini-drama from a script that has likely played out in every churchgoing family in America. Never mind that we live in Kodiak, Alaska, thousands of miles from the rest of the country. Electronics, we know, are borderless.

During the sermon, with our heads intently bent over our study Bibles, my husband and I glanced down the pew to see our teenage son leaning over his cell phone. Texting during the sermon? My husband, later claiming self-defense, drew his own cell from his holster and began furiously sending texts to the other end of the pew. Teenage son didn’t respond, which drew more urgent messages. No response again. By now we were steaming toward a march around the center pews to snatch the offensive item from the perpetrator’s hands. Thankfully, “we’ll get him later” prevailed.

Can you guess what happened next? Read on

The title People of the Nook just hit me between the eyes in the light of my 8 May blog People of the Book.

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Bible reading, both individually and together, has long been actively encouraged and modelled at my church  Saintfield Road Presbyterian, Belfast.

This year we have read the 50 Old Testament passages from E100; are currently reading GodActs – 28 studies in Acts (produced by the Presbyterian Board of Mission in Ireland; and will return to E100 and the New Testament later in the year.

This morning, as part of the service focussing on the first five readings from GodActs, Lorna, Jonny and I will act out a drama called People of the Book. Are we people of the Book? Or are we people of the Bible on our phones or on the internet? Are we readers of the Scripture or are we listeners to the Scripture?

To judge for yourself, you can watch People of the Book – sorry, not Lorna, Jonny and me – but the drama as done at the Lausanne Conference in Capetown at http://conversation.lausanne.org/en/conversations/detail/11614

And the photo at the top..? Obviously not Saintfield Road Presbyterian! It’s a dedication of a language group in Papua New Guinea receiving the Scriptures in their language for the very first time – a reminder that over 2,000 languages are still without the Bible. Not in a book; not on a phone; not on the internet. They can neither read God’s Word nor hear it in their heart languages.

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According to Christianity Today yesterday…

Mark D. Roberts is one brave evangelical. After rolling his eyes upon hearing of a new iPhone app that prepares users for the Rite of Penance, the Texas-based pastor decided to try Confession: A Roman Catholic App for $1.99, and lived to write about it.

Mark was impressed…

“I was chastened,” admitted Roberts, who believes confession is “one of the most often disobeyed commands in the whole Bible.” While using the app is certainly not requisite, he said, if it “helps some Christians examine their lives and confess their sins, either to the Lord alone or to another in God’s presence, then I can see benefit.”

And Christianity Today comments…

We believe the confession app generally points Christians of all stripes in a helpful direction. For one, it asks them to turn inward to examine broken patterns of thinking and feeling, thus preventing a rote faith that relies solely on priests to deal with sin. The app also chastens the believer who thinks he’s on his merry way to sanctification. As the iPhone is ever before the user, helping him manage e-mail and to-do lists and travel routes, so those pesky but piercing questions are ever before him, hopefully inciting the same sorrow over sin as the psalmist’s (Psalm 51:3). And, as good evangelicals, we welcome most any new technology that could introduce a generation to Christ and spur believers’ growth in him.

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Yesterday morning started early with an 8.25am appointment for an MOT with the car – and then the day suggested itself as a day off from the office for good behaviour until my optician appointment at 2.24pm. So I Googled “art galleries in Belfast”, made a few notes and got a bus into the city centre listening to one of Chris Wright’s morning Bible readings from New Horizon 2010.


Ormeau Baths Gallery


First stop the Ormeau Baths where I went for swimming lessons as a first former at Annadale Grammar School and Sheepy, the Latin teacher [who accompanied us] was the first person who ever taught me to dive. Now it’s an art gallery with a show by Siobhan Hapaska [from Belfast despite her surname] entitled Downfall.


The title piece Downfall

I quite liked this one although I hadn’t a clue what it was all about…

The next gallery I had listed was closed but eventually I arrived at Golden Thread Gallery with an exhibition entitled Art Beyond Ulster. This painting of an African boy on an exercise bicycle was done on a piece of metal from an old taxi…



Art Beyond Ulster


I was enjoying myself. It was a lovely cold bright day in Belfast and since I was in the cathedral quarter, I thought I would add some architecture to the art with this photo of St Anne’s Cathedral, Belfast Note the enigmatic spire that has recently come to adorn our local cathedral…


St Anne's with "the needle spire"


My love of art had masked my appetite, so I grabbed a quick coffee and scone before heading to my opticians Harris Rundle – a firm with some history of its own in Belfast. After a satisfactory check-up, I thought I could fit in one more gallery before heading for home – Catalyst Arts which took some finding and a closed door. Just then the curator arrived and told me that I had missed the current exhibition by a matter of hours – but agreed to pose for a photo outside the door anyway.


Catalyst Arts with friendly curator


So a good day off! Car passed MOT no problem; eyes no worse than they were; and a good few hours of strolling and culture in downtown Belfast.

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11 February 2009

Had my first siesta today. Didn’t sleep much, but read a bit of an ancient  Alistair McLean which I liberated from the Bamenda Guest House. We all went and lay down being pretty tired after a few hours in the middle of the day in Ndop town at National Youth Day. It took place at The Field – bit like Orange parades in July back home in N. Ireland! In fact it was not dissimilar in some ways. Thousands – it must have been – of school kids both primary and secondary marched past a stand with a bunch of dignitaries, instead of Orange Lodges marching past a stand with a bunch of dignitaries.

National Youth Day in Ndop

National Youth Day in Ndop

The difference of course is that Orange Fields are invariably green while today’s Field was totally devoid of grass and amazingly dusty and uniformly brown. It was very hot!  The whole Field was surrounded by market stalls, mostly selling food and drink – but also Valentine cards!

Anyway we pottered about for a good while seeking shade under Sandra’s umbrella or occasionally sneaking under someone else’s shade. We did manage to spot a few of the young people from this area in the groups of marchers.

Having had enough of the marching and there being no sign of the traditional dancing starting, we headed off up the road to the Atlanta Hotel for a cold drink. We passed various establishments including “One to One Modern Barbing Studio” and “Black Joe Super Cut”. Pity Sandra had cut Jon’s hair yesterday; I would loved to have seen Jon getting a Black Joe Super Cut! We had a big bottle of Top Pamplemousse each.

Black Joe Super Cut

Black Joe Super Cut

Sandra has just been on her mobile phone from Bamunkaland to her daughter in  Edinburgh giving her a recipe for salad dressing. It’s amazing how much gets done around here by mobile phone!

All so different from my days in Cote d’Ivoire. Yet without mobiles the dispersed Ndop Team working on 10 languages would find it very difficult to function – and so many of their local colleagues also use mobiles. To paraphrase someone else… God invented mobile phones for Bible translation – and lets the rest of the world use them too! We’ve just been watching a Wallace and Grommet dvd. We brought a digital projector with us for the team and we tried it out tonight for the first time working on solar power.

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