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Reblogs: Share the Awesome January 6, 2021

Posted by Pete B in Uncategorized.
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A useful seven year old post about reblogging with 52 comments!
Found while thinking about the etiquette of reusing other people’s material (and of other people reusing mine). In short if you want to reuse any of my posts (without even asking) these are some useful guidelines – share a sample and point people back to the original post.

The Daily Post

My last post was about pingbacks and trackbacks, and some of you had questions about how that relates to reblogs. Both features help you share the work of other bloggers on your own site, but whereas a pingback simply notifies the original blogger that you’ve linked to their site, a reblog captures an excerpt of another blogger’s post and automatically links back to their content. 

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Abstract October 7, 2020

Posted by Pete B in Uncategorized.
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No explanation for why I’m posting this (yet)

Definitions of the words and a video of someone pronouncing it in one of the many British accents is at: https://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/abstract

Happy Birthday Canada (Celebrate in 200+ Languages) July 1, 2020

Posted by Pete B in Uncategorized.
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Happy Canada Day!

July 1st is often celebrated as Canada’s birthday.
Rather than inviting you to sing Happy Birthday or the Canadian National Anthem, here is “a virtual collaboration of 70 Toronto Gospel Artists, Worship Leaders, Music Directors & Pastors from across the city proclaiming a blessing over Toronto and cities around the world”

You’ll hear a few different languages in the recording but only a fraction of the 200+ known to be used by people living in Toronto.

An earlier version of the same song is also great but a bit less multilingual despite having contributions from over 200 people across the country and declaring that “The Church in Canada is beautiful, broad and diverse and it is a nearly impossible task to accurately represent the full breadth of true diversity within the church in Canada from coast to coast to coast.”

To be more multilingual you could try saying Happy Birthday or a cultural equivalent in any of 250 languages listed at https://www.omniglot.com/language/phrases/birthday.htm

Or you could find versions of the Blessing in many of the languages spoken in Canada from my Blessing playlist – which now includes about 140 languages (I need to do a recount soon)

Giraffes & Elephants June 26, 2020

Posted by Pete B in Uncategorized.
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There’s a great story about a Giraffe and and Elephant that I heard about from a pastor in Virginia, which you can read more at https://onevoicefellowship.org/love-is-flexible/ or find the original fable in a 20 year old management book, “Building a house for Diversity” by R Roosevelt Thomas.

Building a House for Diversity

It’s a rather American sounding giraffe but it’s a story that seems to have resonated a lot with people who deliver diversity training …and with people who recognise that we might sometimes need to ‘do church’ differently, or better still, ‘be church’ in some new ways in which the people who’ve traditionally been in charge, don’t insist that outsiders conform in order to be accepted.

I’ve only read the parable, not the book, but know that there are many challenges. It’s not as simple as giraffes and elephants, because sometimes the real differences are not so apparent.

More thoughts to come. Meanwhile, like many of us, I’ve a lot of listening and learning to do.

Though we are one we are many March 23, 2020

Posted by Pete B in Uncategorized.
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This particular church building is where 25 years ago I attended both the smallest and largest communion service. The physically present congregation was just me but the Anglican priest presiding over the service stuck to the liturgy and so I read out loud, “Though we are many we are one body”.

It was of significance for me then, and again in these strange times of social distancing and virtual church. After appreciating the irony for a moment it dawned on me that I was not alone. Though I was one, I was part of the many. Countless millions were gathering that day around the world and sharing in variations of the same practice. Some doing so in large crowds, others in buildings no bigger than the one I was in, some in secrecy, some in solitude, but we were, and are all one body – the church.

You may have heard it before, the church is the people not the building. This particular building like many others will be empty now. The small chapel, despite it’s Mediterranean look, is in in England, at a Butlin’s holiday centre in Minehead, that at this time of year usually hosts Spring Harvest, an annual gathering of thousands of Christians packed together for a mix of singing, sermons, and seminars.

After Easter it would normally switch into full holiday mode, with up to 10,000 holiday makers at a time. (I worked at Butlin’s as a student, and for several years after, and it was there I became a Christian).

Neither, Spring Harvest not the holiday season is happening this year. When the Covid crisis has passed, many who are used to meeting in churches will have learned some new lessons about worshipping without walls, and many others will have encountered God through through conversations with neighbours at a distance of 2 metres (or latest advice), and via online communities where distance is less important.

However distant you feel from others today, you are not alone.

Photos in this post have been adapted from https://davedoeshistory.wordpress.com/2019/08/12/butlins-minehead-the-smallest-cutest-little-chapel-in-england/

The phrase “though we are many” comes from the Church of England Communion service, and in turn from St Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians 1Cor17:10

All   Though we are many, we are one body, because we all share in one bread.

How do you say “Wash your hands” in enough languages? March 16, 2020

Posted by Pete B in Uncategorized.
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(Updated March 25)
There are over 7000 languages in use on the planet, and probably more than you thought spoken in your own community. Despite the pandemic it might not be necessary to say “wash your hands” in every single one of them. The aim would be to say it in a language that people understand regardless of whether it is the one they most identify with. But, it might also help to personalise and drive home the message if you do use people’s first language, so here are a few translations, links to a few more, and then some comments as to why even this simple phrase isn’t as easy to translate as you might think!

  • English – Wash your hands
  • French – Lavez-vous les mains
  • Polish – myć ręce
  • Welsh – Glanhewch eich dwylo
  • Dutch – handen wassen
  • Czech – Umyjte si ruce
  • Malay – Basuh tangan anda
  • Russian – Помойте Ваши Руки
  • Tok Pisin – Wasim han bilong yu

I’ve taken these from a few trusted sources and where possible have checked them by seeing how Google translates them back into English. (Google often does quite a good job between an increasing number of languages). Please do add other languages in the comments section on this blog or when shared on social media).

The Minisota department of health has a poster created in 2010, which says wash your hands in 24 languages (English, Amharic, Arabic, Burmese, Chinese (Mandarin), French, German, Hebrew, Hindi, Hmong, Karen, Khmer, Korean, Laotian, Nepali, Oromo, Ojibwe, Russian, Somali, Spanish, Swahili, Thai, and Vietnamese).

PDF poster available at https://www.health.state.mn.us/people/handhygiene/wash/languages.html

I’m hoping that having been around for ten years that any errors have been found and corrected. It replaces an older version in just 18 languages.

Once I’d found that list Google decided I’d also be interested in this list with 80 different languages. I hope they are all accurate but I can’t be sure. https://www.indifferentlanguages.com/words/wash_hands

Meanwhile, http://bible.com/ and http://www.bible.is/ might have the phrase in up to 1600 languages between them as part of a Bible verse.

Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.

James 4:8 NLT

As so many people are being told to keep their distance from others I like that this starts off by reminding us that God doesn’t want us to keep our distance from him. Even the bit where the writer is calling people sinners, comes across as harsh it’s worth noting that this was written to people who already considered themselves to be Christians. The writer is urging them to recognise their problem and do something not condemning them.

The much older King James version phrases it as:

Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.

James 4:8

However the Contemporary English version translates it as:

Come near to God, and he will come near to you. Clean up your lives, you sinners. Purify your hearts, you people who can’t make up your mind.

James 4:8 CEV

All are valid translations providing you recognise that the original meaning wasn’t about hand hygiene and reducing the spread of a virus.

In the Éwé language the verse is translated as:

Mite ɖe Mawu ŋu kpokploe eye eya hã atsɔ ɖe mia gbɔ. Mi nu vɔ̃ wɔlawo miklɔ miaƒe asiwo, eye mi ame siwo nye dzime eve susulawo la miklɔ miaƒe dziwo me.


I did’t know which bit is about hand washing so I thought I’d see if Google could help by translating it back into English. Sadly Éwé isn’t one of the languages Google recognises and suggested the text might be in Igbo or Yoruba, offering me a translation of the phrase from those languages as “Mite Threatened Birds are very popular. If you have heard me say it, my eye will give it to my dzime eve.

Getting the best translation involves understanding the meaning of the message in the language you are translating from and understanding the language and culture of the person you are trying to communicate to.

If you don’t speak the language then just pulling the verse off the web and making a best guess as to which bit of it might say “wash your hands” won’t always give you the results you want.

That “best guess” gets better and the process can be quickly repeated with the aid of sophisticated machine learning that runs multiple checks to identify and compare the use of words in a larger body of text. This, together with collaborative input from people around the world has enabled the phrase to be quickly translated or identified in 273 languages (as of March 25) with many more on their way and an invitation for people to submit the phrase in missing languages.

“Wash your hands” in Éwé, is apparently “mi klɔ asi”.

As Ethnologue’s article highlights, “Wash your hands”, while a vital and key message, isn’t enough on it’s own to combat the pandemic but in making that one phrase available they are both highlighting the need for yet more information and promoting new resources that are already being translated.

explore the map, share the list, and help spread the message

Find out more and as the article concludes, “Spread the word, not the virus.”

Segregation, Diversity and the church March 5, 2020

Posted by Pete B in Uncategorized.
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With a shrinking congregation and a changing neighbourhood the pastor of a once large church sent teams door to door to invite new people. But something was puzzling.

“Every time they gathered to invite new people to church, the pastor sent them a few miles west of their present neighbourhood, to the newly developing suburbs …populated by people of the same race and class”

This was 1990 and as the church members worked out what was happening they had mixed reactions. Their community had changed vastly over the previous decades. The pastor was following what he believed to be the logical conclusions of a mission strategy known as the homogenous unit principle, the simple idea that churches grow faster if everyone in them looks and sounds the same. Eventually he went on to recommend that they sell their building and move to the new white neighbourhood.

The free preview of Michael O. Emerson’s “People of the Dream: Multiracial Congregations in the United States” I stumbled across on Google books came to an end just as the church was voting on this decision.

How diverse is your own church? How would they have voted? This certainly isn’t just a US issue. Despite decades of discussion within the Church of England, reports constantly suggest there is still plenty of division and institutional racism in the UK Church as well as wider society. This isn’t just about overt attitudes and comments but also more subtle discrimination and lack of awareness.

A video presented to the General Synod of the Church of England a few years ago covered some of the issues.

Moving from race to language my own research suggests that many people assume that providing people speak English ‘well enough’ language isn’t an issue (see section on #multilingualchurch).

If you are wondering what happened at Wilcrest Baptist Church the current facebook page of the church may be a spoiler.


How diverse does your church look and sound compared to your local community?

Here are a few resources from the UK to explore:

…and if you are still reading, here’s a quote and a song from South Africa

In my nation South Africa, we have 11 official languages. English happens to be our lingua franca even though it’s a second language to the majority of the population. In our context when we refer to multi cultural worship we often mean people from different cultures and ethnicities worshiping together in English. I don’t think this is wrong, I just think it’s safe. It’s like painting with the same colour over and over again when you have a pallet with an assortment of colours at your fingertips.

Langa Mbonambi

2000+ Bible versions online February 1, 2020

Posted by Pete B in Uncategorized.
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Remembers this?

Back in 2014 YouVersion celebrated the 1000th version of the Bible made available via their apps and website.

The 1000th language was reached two years later in 2016

Then in October 2019 they announced that they’d passed the 2000th version.
(they didn’t use the same graphic so I adapted the first one)

I don’t know how quickly the next 1000 versions will be added but they are already in progress, and the 2000th language is a target I’d love to see reached either this year or next.
At the start of 2020 YouVersion was supplying 2023 versions in 1371 languages. (follow the links to see the full lists and encourage your church to link to online Bibles and apps from their websites and social media)

Meanwhile the number of languages in which a full Bible or New Testament exists is 2250, with over 1100 having at least some portion completed. Some are already in digital format and either online elsewhere or in line to be added. Others are older copies that need tracking down and a complex process of scanning and either digitising by optical character recognition (OCR) and extremely careful proofreading or rekeyboarding and processing.
So pray that it won’t be too long before we can celebrate the next major milestones, remembering that each new version and each new language added is a cause of celebration to those who can finally access scripture for themselves.

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