Friday, March 04, 2011

Notes From My Knapsack 3-10-11

Notes From My Knapsack 3-10-11

Jeff Gill

Twelve Years Old in Granville – 1885


If Julia wouldn't loan her the umbrella, then Lucretia wasn't sure
she wanted to go.

Julia might be of an age to go walking along Broadway, with groups of
young women and men, to the Kicking Tree and back (all the way to
Granger, but not around the bend of Mount Parnassus), but she still
ought to share with a younger sister. Lucretia hoped that a whalebone
umbrella might be in the offing for her thirteenth birthday, but it
seemed as if Julia might not have gotten hers until she was nearly

Now Lucretia was following Mother and Father on this lovely fall
afternoon, from their house on Plum with little Osgood in tow, and
Julia staying at home with her snooty friends. It didn't look like
rain at all, but everyone knew that the new fire engine, powered by
steam, was putting on a display at Prospect and Broadway. They were
attempting to shoot a stream of water into the air, pumped from the
new pipes Mr. Bryant had laid out all over the village from a vast
wooden tank up on College Hill. The steam engine, on a handcart, was
supposed to put pressure on the water so that it would be a geyser,
like that place Lucretia had seen in the stereopticon in Mrs. Bolen's
parlor, a picture in three dimensions from somewhere out West, where
water shot from the earth every hour. Imagine!

"Let's keep moving, 'Crete," laughed Father, as she paused to look up
at the new Methodist church on the northeast corner of Main and
Broadway. She had marveled to hear Mr. Montgomery, the well-to-do
farmer out west of the village, tell Father about how every piece of
wainscoting, and the grand arcs of church pews in the sanctuary had
come from just two grand old cherry trees, four feet across, down
along the Raccoon. Now our main intersection in Granville had a
fourth tower for the four corners, just like a big city would have.

They scampered as Mother's and 'Crete's long skirts would let them,
tromping through the mud, and over the small bridge from the drainage
around back of the new "Centenary," as they were calling the
Methodist church now (what with the centennial of American Methodism
falling last year, when they finished the new building). The path
along the north side of Broadway was boarded along almost the whole
length of all the new storefronts, so they made better time as they
heard the murmur of the crowd, and the high, clear voice of Mr.
Bryant above all.

"Look out, look out now!"

The size of the crowd was substantial, filling the intersection and
most of Prospect Street on around the corner, looking back from the
porch of the Mansion House. 'Crete looked up at the three story bulk
of the Kussmaul block anchoring the corner, having kept her eye along
the rooftops, from the Methodist corner right along all the lovely
Italianate two story shops, gazing appreciatively at the variations
of brick patterns and brackets and cornices.

"Father . . ." she said faintly as she nudged him, still looking up.
Then suddenly a ribbon of water snaked down out of the sky, arcing
from behind the buildings, shimmering in the light, falling with a
rippling "splat."

Mother was soaked, and furious, while Osgood was wet and whimpering,
and Father's mustaches sagged with heavy droplets at each end, his
hat crushed over his eyebrows. You could hardly see his angry
expression. Lucretia was dry and untouched.

"I told you Julia should give us her umbrella!"

[Charles Webster Bryant, pharmacist & community leader, organized our
first civic water system, the historical societies for both Granville
& Ohio, and was holding the fire hose nozzle for the first test of
its steam engine. Its power & effectiveness surprised him…and a
number of village residents!]

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Faith Works 3-05

Faith Works 3-05-11

Jeff Gill


Authority and the Auditory, the Heard and the Heeded



"And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid."
If your first thought on reading those words is "Linus!" I think we'd all understand.
From "A Charlie Brown Christmas," the words of Luke 2: 8-14 make up the pivot point of that seasonal favorite (beginning with the introit: "Lights, please.").
But the thing is, we HEAR them. In Linus' voice with childlike rhythms, perhaps with a British accent from the radio on Christmas Eve out of Cambridge, with the "Service of Lessons and Carols," and possibly with the resonance of a beloved family member and everyone gathered under the tree.
These words, and in this form, carry a weight and authority that goes beyond theology or Biblical literacy, and is essentially the power of what is "heard."
Or as Paul says in II Timothy, "Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus."
2011 is the 400th anniversary of the publication of what is known today as the King James Version, or sometimes the Authorized Version (KJV or AV in abbreviation). There are a number of events happening this year around the world, including just down the road this May in Columbus (see
There's obviously a historian's interest in pulling out an old translation of God's Word from the Hebrew and Greek originals, but is there any point for pewsitters and workaday pastors to delve back into the KJV? Just a bit?
I would argue, on too many grounds to sum up adequately in a newspaper column, "Yes." Emphatically yes. Not because, as a few still do affirm, the KJV is in some way itself uniquely inspired, or because newer translations are less faithful (although there are many arguments to be had about the relative merits and starting points of each of them).
Where I would agree with "KJV only" churches is this: the idea that the KJV is incomprehensible to modern ears is hogwash. Do you have to work a little? Yes.
The comparison is sometimes made to Shakespeare, a contemporary of the KJV – and that's a good one, although much of the basis for the translation was William Tyndale's masterful translation, done 80 years before the Bard of Avon! What is useful about that analogy is that a person who just doesn't find words leaping to life on the page, modern or antiquated, will attend a performance of Shakespeare, and say after "so, they must have rewritten most of that, right?"
Generally, no. The actor/reader has to do their homework and be aware of the wider context of their speech, but they can then deliver with proper inflection and intonation the words of 1611 in a way that sounds perfectly understandable in 2011.
We make much of the sayeths and springeths (and begots), and there are some words like flagon and garner you don't hear on TV these days. And yes, some phrases like "by and by" or "suffer the little children" have flipped in meaning. If you want to read the Old Testament prophets, the KJV team clearly put the A-Team on the poetry of the Psalms and the majesty of the Gospels.
Yet the KJV also gives us 'Am I my brother's keeper?'; 'Escaped with the skin of my teeth'; 'Saying peace, peace, where there is no peace'; 'They have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind'; 'The signs of the times'; 'Fell among thieves'; 'Scales fell from his eyes'; 'Full of good works'; 'A law unto themselves'; 'Wages of sin'; 'The powers that be'; 'All things to all men'; 'Filthy lucre'; 'Let brotherly love continue'; 'The patience of Job'; and of course 'Perfect love casteth out fear' in which I would fain not casteth out the casteth with the bathwater.
The Authorized Version was written to be heard, to be spoken with understanding. Reading is important, study has a place, but hearing is central to what the scriptures themselves teach about taking God's Word into your heart.
I hope to say a bit more about our old, neglected friend the KJV in this 400th anniversary year, and Tyndale himself, who gave us these words of translation that point, as all effective speech does, beyond themselves: "Behold, I stand at the door and knock."
Jeff Gill is a writer, storyteller, and supply preacher around central Ohio; he owns far too many Bibles in myriad translations, but there's always a KJV nearby. Tell him your favorite version at or follow Knapsack @Twitter.