Views from the News
Sandy Jack, Eastbourne
Most under-35s have not heard of the King James Bible
More than half of young adults have never heard of the King James Version of the Bible, according to a new survey. The influential translation, which will celebrate its 400th anniversary this year, is believed to be the biggest-selling book ever produced. But a new poll has revealed that 51 per cent of under-35s have never heard of the King James Bible, compared to 28 per cent for those over the age of 55. A spokesman for the King James Bible Trust, which commissioned the poll, said, ‘There has been a dramatic drop in knowledge in a generation. Yet this is a work which was far more influential than Shakespeare in the development and spread of English’. These opinions were echoed by Labour MP Frank Field, who said, ‘It is not possible to comprehend fully Britain’s historical, linguistic or religious development without an understanding of this great translation’.
Work on the King James translation began in 1604, at the request of James I, and carried on until 1611. A team of forty-seven of the best Bible scholars of the day worked on translating the text into English, and the King James translation became the version read by many English speaking nations.
Last October, BBC Radio 4 revealed that it is planning to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible by devoting a Sunday to readings from its text. The commemorative event, will last for seven hours, broken up into twenty-eight readings, each of which will be fifteen minutes long. According to reports the readings will be selected from ‘the most powerful stories in the Bible’, and each of them will begin with an introduction explaining its literary significance.
Earlier last year it was revealed that the Royal Mail is planning to commemorate the anniversary of the King James Version of the Bible with a series of special stamps. The commemorative stamps, which are due to be produced this year, have been prompted by numerous requests from members of the general public.
Scottish Parliament rejects assisted suicide Bill
The Scottish Parliament has overwhelmingly rejected a Bill to legalize assisted suicide in Scotland. MSPs were given a free vote on 1st December 2010, allowing them to vote according to their consciences rather than along party lines. The End of Life Assistance Bill was crushed by 85-16.
Gordon Macdonald, of the ‘Care Not Killing Alliance’, said it was a fantastic result and a ‘victory for the most vulnerable in our community’. In rejecting the controversial legislation, he said MSPs recognized that legalizing assisted suicide would ‘seriously endanger public safety’ and had instead given a ringing endorsement to palliative care. ‘The sheer magnitude of [the Bill’s] defeat should settle this issue in Scotland for a generation’, he said. ‘The key argument that decided this vote and the similar votes in the House of Lords in 2006 and 2009 is a simple one. The right to die can so easily become the duty to die. Vulnerable people who are sick, elderly, or disabled can so easily feel pressure, whether real or imagined, to end their lives so as not to be a burden on others. Parliament’s first responsibility is to protect the vulnerable and that is what they have voted to do today’.
The controversial legislation would have made Scotland the first part of the UK to legalize assisted suicide if it had been successful. It proposed granting any person above sixteen years old, who was terminally ill and found life intolerable the right to ask for assistance in ending their lives.
It’s time to ditch Winterval and remember Christmas is about the birth of Christ, declares minister
Council chiefs were urged by the Government to celebrate the ‘Christian basis’ of Christmas.
Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said that ‘politically correct Grinches’ should not be allowed to obscure the fact that it is a festival to mark the birth of Christ. He called for the likes of the Winterval festival of the 1990s - which combined secular and inter-faith religious elements - to be consigned to the ‘dustbin of history’.
‘We should actively celebrate the Christian basis of Christmas, and not allow politically correct Grinches to marginalize Christianity and the importance of the birth of Christ. ‘The war on Christmas is over, and likes of Winterval, Winter Lights and Luminous deserve to be in the dustbin of history’. He said that despite the current economic difficulties, it was not in councils’ interests to ‘play Scrooge’ by cutting down on the Christmas festivities. ‘It is in councils’ financial interests to draw shoppers to their town centres at Christmas given the benefits of packed car parks to councils’ coffers’, he said. ‘Shoppers want to see Christmas lights, Christmas trees, carol services and nativity scenes, and councils should not hesitate in supporting them‘.