The new “Star Trek” captain will be “diverse,” but what “level of diversity”?

CBS is coming out with a new Star Trek series, starting on its main broadcasting network, but then moving over to its new pay-for-access channel.  An Entertainment Weekly article on the show, based on an interview with the producer, tortures the term “diverse” in ways I hadn’t heard before.

We are told that the commander of the spacecraft will be a “diverse actress.”  [How can an individual be “diverse”?  Is that, like, shizophrenic?  Or just someone with a multi-faceted personality who can play many different parts?  Oh, I guess “diverse” is now a euphemism for a class of people who aren’t white, male heterosexuals.]

But the part has not yet been cast, so the producer didn’t know “what level of diversity” she would be.  [So diversity comes in levels? Is Asian one level, and Hispanic another level?  Is black the highest level?  She is a woman, so that counts, but would making her a lesbian give them a higher level of diversity?  What if she is an Alien?] [Read more…]

Patriotism vs. Nationalism

The words “patriotism” and “nationalism” have different meanings.  So explains Jonah Goldberg, channeling William F. Buckley.  This is in the context of an essay criticizing both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.  But, for now, consider these two different ways of loving one’s country. [Read more…]

The history of the word “mercy”

The word “mercy” is gaining more and more currency in Christianity these days.  It has long been a favorite word of LMCS president Matthew Harrison, and, more recently, of Pope Francis.  Kory Stamper, a lexicographer with Merriam-Webster dictionary, gives its history after the jump.

Originally, “mercy” meant clemency for an offender.  The word came from the same root a “merchandise,” referring to a “payment.”  So a plea for mercy meant that “the object of mercy was not deserving of compassion, that the party showing mercy was literally bearing the cost of the crime or debt on themselves.”  That is to say, the word “mercy” was all about the gospel.

Later, the term began to be used for compassion to any one in need.  But the gospel, enshrined in the very etymology of the word, applies there too. [Read more…]

The end of the written word?

Facebook is predicting the end of the written word–at least on Facebook, which the head of the company in Europe says may well be all video in 5 years.  Suggesting that reading and writing will be all but obsolete (though not completely), Nicol Mendelsohn said, “The best way to tell stories in this world, where so much information is coming at us, actually is video,” which “conveys so much more information in a much quicker period. So actually the trend helps us to digest much more information.”

This is not true, as media expert Neil Postman has shown.  It certainly isn’t “quicker” to watch a video, as opposed to scanning a few paragraphs.  And the information value of videos is quite low, if you are looking for ideas and facts, as opposed to emotional experiences.  And “stories” can be told with much more depth in writing, as nearly any comparison with a movie and the novel it was based on will prove.

And yet, I can see Facebook and other online media replacing the written words with visual images and oral performances. This would be in line with the predictions of another media scholar, Marshall McLuhan, who said that when this happens, we will revert back to a pre-literate culture, one that is tribal, anti-rational, and functionally primitive. [Read more…]

What does it mean to be “blessed”?

“This is a real blessing.”  “I have been so blessed.”  “Count your blessings.”  “God bless you!”  “The Lord bless you and keep you. . .”  The word blessing expresses an important concept in Christian spirituality.  But what, exactly, does it mean?

My daughter, Mary Moerbe, has written a book on the subject, entitled Blessed:  God’s Gift of Love, drawing on the doctoral research of CPH editor Christopher Mitchell.

Read it.  You will find it a real blessing.  (sorry)

In the meantime, before you read the book and get all the answers, how would you describe what it means to be “blessed”?  The Bible talks about God blessing us, but it also says that we should “bless the Lord.”  How do we do that?  What does it mean when a pastor blesses us?

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Untranslatable words

Adam was given the power to name things; that is, he, as well as human beings after him, could devise a word to signify some reality.  Thus we have language.  Learning a new word can make us aware of truths and feelings that we otherwise might have missed.

Some languages have words for things that others don’t.  These “untranslatable words” often name things that need naming.  For example, the Yiddish word “kvell” means ““to glow with pride and happiness at the success of others (often family members).'”  The Georgian word “shemomedjamo” means eating even though you are full because it tastes so good.  The German “Fernweh” means feeling homesick for a place you’ve never been to.  The German “Verschlimmbessern” means making something worse by trying to improve it.

We should start using some of these and thus bring them into English.  After the jump, links to these and lots more.


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