Dispatches > The Buzz

The Buzz

Issue: "Paying the price," Feb. 9, 2002

NIV's twisted sister
"Dishonest and grossly unfair," said Paige Patterson of Southeastern Baptist Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C. "They are counting on concerned evangelicals to have short memories," said R. Albert Mohler Jr. of Southern Baptist Seminary in Louisville, Ky. Seminary presidents Patterson, Mohler, and others reacted with outrage to the announcement by the International Bible Society late last month that it is withdrawing from a 5-year-old evangelical agreement on guidelines for gender-related language in Bible translations. IBS and its partner, Zondervan Publishing House, are moving speedily to publish an edition that will reduce the presence of words such as he and man that feminists find objectionable. Under great pressure, IBS and Zondervan promised in 1997 to keep the trusted New International Version (NIV) in print and not turn it into a gender-neutral edition. Last month IBS announced that it will publish a new translation with a name very close to that of the NIV. The new title: "Today's New International Version" (TNIV). Deceptive or not, many liberals will probably praise the TNIV and many conservatives will probably criticize it. But with IBS and Zondervan throwing their massive marketing resources behind the new translation, what difference is it likely to make in Bible understanding among Christians? WORLD asked Wayne Grudem, Research Professor of Bible and Theology at Phoenix Seminary in Scottsdale, Ariz., and a past president of the Evangelical Theological Society, to point out some changed meanings in the TNIV New Testament, which is now available for analysis. Dr. Grudem suggested that readers:

  • Compare NIV Hebrews 2:6 (What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?) with TNIV Hebrews 2:6 (What are mere mortals that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?). The TNIV mistranslates the singular Greek words huios ("son") and anthropos ("man"). It removes the connection of this phrase to Jesus, who called Himself "the Son of Man."
  • Compare NIV Hebrews 12:7 (Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?) with TNIV Hebrews 12:7 (Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their parents?). The TNIV mistranslates the Greek terms huios ("son") and pater ("father"), which in their singular forms cannot mean "child" or "parent." It obscures the parallel with God as Father and ignores the special nature of fatherly discipline.
  • Compare NIV James 1:12 (Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life ...) with TNIV James 1:12 (Blessed are those who persevere under trial, because when they have stood the test, they will receive the crown of life ...). The TNIV mistranslates the Greek word aner, which means a male human being, and in doing so loses the allusion to the "blessed man" in Psalm 1:1, 32:2; 40:4, etc.
  • Compare NIV Revelation 3:20 (I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me) with TNIV Revelation 3:20 (I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with them, and they with me). The TNIV mistranslates the Greek masculine singular pronoun autos in a way that loses the emphasis on fellowship between Jesus and an individual believer. The cumulative effect of hundreds of such changes is not only poor grammar but a loss of the Bible's emphasis on individual responsibility and individual relationship with God.

State of the Union, part I: Bush, Americans garner approval
Popularity contests
In the wake of a well-received State of the Union address last week (see "A good politician," p. 25), can President Bush keep the country unified and focused on the war on terrorism without election-year politics intruding? In the days leading up to his speech, that seemed like a tall order when Democrats tried to conjugate the bankruptcy of Enron into a political problem for TeamBush-with talk of "Enronomics," or "Enronizing" Social Security and Medicare. But they aren't encouraged by the latest round of polling, which shows the president retaining an approval rating of over 80 percent. Meanwhile, Americans seem to have an equally high approval rating in Afghanistan. "We received thumbs up and waves and smiles everywhere we went," Pennsylvania Republican Joe Pitts told WORLD of his recent trip. "It's amazing because there's a humanitarian crisis. They're in the fourth year of drought with no relief in sight. There are millions of displaced people. They have no resources, and yet the leadership and the people are optimistic. They're very happy to be free." State of the Union, Part II: Culture takes a back seat
Social outcasts
While Dan Rather was troubled that President Bush's State of the Union speech didn't mention Enron by name or support new campaign-finance restrictions, some conservatives weren't pleased by the omission of social and judicial themes. Free Congress Foundation judicial monitor Tom Jipping complained that President Bush failed to mention Senate inaction on most of his judicial nominations, even as Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist warned of an alarming number of vacancies. He noted that when Mr. Rehnquist sounded that alarm in 1998, President Clinton mentioned it in his State of the Union address that year. The speech also lacked any mention of abortion or the upcoming struggle over human cloning. On the Wednesday before the speech, Bush strategist Karl Rove made rare appearances before both Grover Norquist's and Paul Weyrich's weekly conservative gatherings to tell them to expect no laundry list. But Mr. Bush did throw out a short list, including calls for a prescription-drug subsidy for Medicare and a "productive farm policy," but avoided contentious social questions. Senate watchers expect a major fight in the upper chamber this spring over a cloning ban. GAO seeks Cheney records
Wasted energy
The General Accounting Office is an arm of Congress charged with investigating government efficiency, but now Enron-energized Democrats are pushing the GAO to take the unprecedented step of suing the White House. Clinton-appointed comptroller general David Walker seems willing to comply. He announced last week that the GAO would go to court for access to records of Vice President Dick Cheney's meetings to develop an energy plan. The White House vowed to resist the GAO in court. Spokesman Ari Fleischer said, "Our attorneys feel very strongly that if this were to end up in court, the GAO will lose because they have exceeded their statutory authority." TeamBush's determination met resistance loudly and quickly from the major media. But in early 1993, the reporters were almost completely silent when the American Association of Physicians and Surgeons sued to open the meetings of Hillary Clinton's task force to formulate a health care nationalization plan. Democrats now insist the two controversies are the same. But the presence of Mrs. Clinton-who was not a government employee-as leader of the task force made her meeting subject to the Federal Advisory Committee Act, a post-Watergate reform passed by Democrats. That law doesn't apply to Vice President Cheney. Nine years ago, journalists favored secret meetings for Mrs. Clinton. "I'm all for secrecy," declared Newsweek's Evan Thomas, at the time its Washington bureau chief. "For one thing, that's the only way they are going to get it done." ONLY DUES-PAYERS NEED APPLY: UNION FROWNS ON CULTURAL EXCHANGE
Greed knows no borders
Multicultural education is good-so long as educators from other cultures don't take union jobs. This year, schools in eight states will hire about 1,700 teachers from 40 countries for posts in elementary and secondary classrooms. The teachers, participants in the Visiting International Faculty (VIF) program, must speak fluent English, hold a university degree or teaching diploma, and have experience teaching at the elementary or secondary level. Just the ticket for a diversity-happy public education system that often blames a dearth of "qualified teachers" for its educational failings-right? Wrong, say members of the National Council of Urban Education Associations (NCUEA), a caucus of 251 local National Education Association affiliates. At its December conference, NCUEA passed a new business item calling on the national union to "investigate" the VIF program because its teachers may not be certified. But Mike Antonucci, director of the Education Intelligence Agency (EIA), a Carmichael, Calif.-based research firm, said NCUEA may be less concerned about certification than about union jobs: "More at issue is whether the union will allow temporary foreign workers to fill slots that could go to grateful, dues-paying Americans." Is that true? WORLD asked NCUEA president Herb Levitt: "I don't have a comment on that." In a telephone interview from his Washington, D.C., office, Mr. Levitt first said NCUEA doesn't "have a position on VIF, other than that we're seeking more information on the program." Pressed further, he added, "We want to know what it's all about, who's employing these teachers." It is, perhaps, an odd time to start asking. VIF first brought international teachers to North Carolina public schools in 1989 to teach Spanish and French. The purpose of the program: A cultural exchange in which both teachers and students learn about one another's countries. VIF has since expanded into seven other states, and into other subject areas, such as math, science, and special education-subjects in which U.S. teacher shortages are said to be most severe. But as with school-choice initiatives such as charter schools, VIF's nonunion expansion seems to have piqued the union's interest. According to EIA, one local NEA affiliate president is already calling on members to report the presence of VIF teachers to NEA staff. HISTORY REPEATS, PART II: THE PLAGIARISM PLAGUE
Honesty 101
If students don't learn in high school that plagiarism is wrong, they may at least learn it in college. The Kansas City Star last week reported that a biology teacher at Piper High School in Kansas City, Kan., resigned after the school board reversed the failing grades she had given to 28 students she believed had submitted plagiarized work. District policy holds that students who plagiarize receive no credit, but the board decided to give the 10th-grade students partial credit after several parents complained that the plagiarism was unintentional. "I went to my class and tried to teach the kids, but they were whooping and hollering and saying, 'We don't have to listen to you anymore,'" teacher Christine Pelton said. Meanwhile, university faculties nationwide are debating whether to stop using popular historian Stephen Ambrose's books in classes in light of several reports that passages in some of his books are nearly identical to the work of other authors ("History repeats," Jan. 19). "There are some real teachable moments," said Diane Waryold, executive director of the Center for Academic Integrity at Duke University. "I would hope that faculty would … engage students in a discussion about what it means to get an honest education." A sixth Ambrose book, his 1970 work The Supreme Commander, came under fire last week. Forbes.com reported that historian Cornelius Ryan accused Mr. Ambrose of combining two quotes from different men in Mr. Ryan's The Last Battle into one quote from one person. In a 1970 letter to a Doubleday editor, Mr. Ryan, who died in 1974, also pointed out that Mr. Ambrose didn't cite The Last Battle as the source of the mangled quote. Mr. Ambrose wrote a letter of apology to Mr. Ryan at the time. HARVARD: WHERE EVERYONE IS ABOVE AVERAGE
The honors roll
It soon may take more than a B average to graduate with honors from Harvard. The elite school reportedly is considering a proposal to eliminate B-average honors after a record 91 percent of last year's seniors graduated with honors, according to The Boston Globe. Under the proposed change, 65 percent of Harvard's seniors last year still would have graduated with some kind of honors. A study last year concluded that nearly half of all grades given by Harvard were "A" or "A-minus." Schools react to student burden
Lesson in debt
If college kids spent as much time studying as they do spending money, would they learn how to stay out of debt? The average student credit-card debt rose from $1,879 in 1998 to $2,748 in 2000, according to the student loan agency Nellie Mae, and a backlash against credit-card companies is brewing at some schools. Banks often deluge campuses with pitches: phone calls, flyers, booths, and even e-mail. Officials at the University of Texas at Dallas now ban credit-card booths, and University of Nevada regents are debating whether to stop selling student names and addresses to credit-card companies. Such actions come as many young people are piling up tens of thousands of dollars in debt. In addition to credit-card debts, the GAO reports that the average college graduate has $19,400 in student loans when he leaves school. Credit-card companies insist that they do not promote irresponsibility. "The last thing we want to do is give a college student a credit card and they can't handle it," said MBNA spokesman Brian Dalphon. Bob Doyle, of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, argues that the problem may start at home. He said that too many parents forgive their kids' debts or bail them out when they get into financial trouble. "That is doing more harm than good," argued the St. Petersburg, Fla.-based CPA. FTC proposes a national registry to curb telemarketers
Don't ask, don't call
Will a proposed national "don't call me" registry curb annoying telemarketers? The Federal Trade Commission wants to create a national list of Americans who don't want sales calls. People who want to be on the list would simply call an 800 number to sign up-and telemarketers would face up to $11,000 in fines for each violation. Under existing rules, telemarketers must stop calling people who ask to be placed on their "don't call" lists. But individual companies keep their own lists, and critics say that salesmen sometimes ignore them anyway. Other requirements include a ban on late-night calls and deceptive sales tactics. The FTC would like to spend between $4 million and $6 million to create the list in the first year, and it would be updated monthly. The FTC also plans other restraints on telemarketers, including stopping them from blocking caller ID information and preventing them from sharing billing information about their customers. H. Robert Wientzen, president of the Direct Marketing Association, says the registry idea won't work: "The government may be overstepping its boundaries by spending taxpayer dollars to limit communication." The FTC sees it differently: "We're not saying 'don't call.' It's consumers saying 'don't call,'" said Howard Beales, the FTC's director of consumer protection. FCC reverses fine on station
Inoffensive indecency?
The FCC officially bars radio stations from airing indecent material, but a potentially landmark case in Colorado Springs raises questions about the usefulness of such regulations. The agency last month reversed course and dropped a fine imposed on a radio station after it aired a song by rapper Eminem. The tune was an edited version but was still graphic. Listener Liz Pipes filed the indecency complaint in July 2000 after KKMG-FM aired "The Real Slim Shady," which had been a hit single. She said that she objected to songs in which dirty words are masked for radio, but can still be understood. The song aired tens of thousands of times nationwide during that spring and summer. Initially, the FCC ruled that the remix was still indecent, also noting that the station played it from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., hours when many children listen to the radio. So the agency fined the station $7,000 last June. The station and its owners, Las Vegas- based Citadel Communications, appealed the decision, claiming the Eminem song was fit for broadcast and encouraged listeners to consider complex social issues. After considering the appeal, the regulators reversed their decision. The FCC claims that while the edited version refers to sexual activity, it is not "patently offensive."

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