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One Church, indivisible: Aimee's blog from Crete

Once every five years or so, a group of about 120 men and women, pastors, laypersons, academics, and church leaders get together to talk about the issues that still divide the churches. It's called the Faith and Order Plenary Commission, and its next meeting will take place at the Orthodox Academy of Crete, Greece, 7-13 October 2009.oac

This year, I've been invited to go. 

And I'm writing a blog.


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Lost in translation

Thursday, Oct. 15, 2009

In our last two sessions in Crete, my small group had an extended digression about translation.

The Nature and Mission of the Church document we were studying was translated into French, German, Spanish and Russian, all languages that originated in Europe. Translating is expensive and difficult, especially for highly technical theological jargon. The truth is that the World Council of Churches doesn’t have the money to translate the document into every language on the planet.

But, reflected some friends from Africa and Asia, we need to recognize that even the languages we choose to offer send a message about who’s important and who’s not, who’s valued and who’s not, or even who’s a priority and who’s not. When we translate documents into European languages alone and then ask the world community to respond, it can feel like the people who speak those languages are the ones we want to hear from most.

At these global church meetings, we often have conversations like this – about how to widen the table, how to invite more people into the conversation, how to make sure information is available to everyone and that everyone’s voice is heard.

This morning, I saw on CNN that a pastor in North Carolina is planning to burn Bibles that aren’t the King James Version (one of the earliest translations of the texts into English).

I wonder if he knows that all around the world people have been translating the Bible into all kinds of other languages, from Armenian to Zulu, for centuries.

Yep folks, there’s still work to do.

Comments Comments

Maren Frick-Wright said on Oct 17, 2009
This issue is not just theological... it's every day when we send home messages in kids backpacks, and the menus at restaurants, and the signs in public buildings. It's about access and oppression, and we are all potential advocates for equality.
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