Friday, July 23, 2010

William Tynedale and Avril Lavigne: Cultural Dynamos

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was good. He was a boi and she was a grrl. Can I make it any more obvious? Tynedale was a sk8r boi and Avril was a pop singer. He was a punk, and she did arena concerts. What more can I say? He spoke truth to power; she got rich and famous. He just got famous. He got burned; she got the stars. Somehow it all makes sense to me. He wanted her, she'd never tell. Secretly she wanted him as well. Knock and it shall be opened unto you. But all of her friends, stuck up their nose. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. They had a problem with his baggy clothes. Fashion not yourselves to the world. He was a sk8r boi. She said see you later boi. He wasn't good enough for her. Judge not that you not be judged. She had a pretty face. Let there be light. Her head was up in a space. The signs of the times. She needed to come back down to earth. It came to pass. She turns on T.V., guess who she sees? The powers that be. Skater boy rocking up MTV. She calls up her friends, they already know. Seek and you shall find. And they've all got tickets to see his show. Filthy lucre. She tags along, and stands in the crowd. The spirit is willing. Looks up at the man that she turned down. Ask and it shall be given you....

I once thought of standing in front of a Methodist church of a Sunday afternoon asking if anyone knows a man named John Wellesley. I figured most people would say no. It would have been a mean-spirited joke, which didn't deter me, it's that the weather here sucks and I never found a nice day to try it. Wellesley is the founder of the Methodist church, and my guess is that most people entering in wouldn't know that. Why the Hell would I know? I just do. I also know a bit about William Tynedale, whose life makes me tremble in a spirit of joy. I know now too a bit about Avril Lavigne. Not much, but more than enough.

I also know that fifteen year old girls buy music and go to concerts and buy things for fifteen year old girls, and that the market is a good thing, if not an outwardly moral thing. I don't have much in the way of music stuff in my home, but I have a full shelf of Bibles for some reason. I have a lot of King James versions. I like reading Ecclesiastes. I'm a boring guy. All is vanity. There is nothing new under the sun. Except that there is: girls can get rich singing songs for girls. Still, one can get killed speaking truth to power. In the beginning was the Word. Now there is the ipod. That's good. I'm glad that girls can listen to music and have fun. Our oft vacuous Modernity is preferable to fifteen year old girls commonly dying in childbirth. They have ear-phones. I read quietly. Life is good for us all.

William Tyndale (sometimes spelled Tindall or Tyndall; pronounced /ˈtɪndəl/) (c. 1494 – 1536) was a 16th century scholar and translator who became a leading figure in Protestant reformism towards the end of his life. He was influenced by the work of Desiderius Erasmus, who made the Greek New Testament available in Europe, and Martin Luther. Tyndale was the first to translate considerable parts of the Bible into English, for a public, lay readership. While a number of partial and complete translations had been made from the seventh century onward, particularly during the 14th century, Tyndale's was the first English translation to draw directly from Hebrew and Greek texts, and the first to take advantage of the new medium of print, which allowed for its wide distribution. This was taken to be a direct challenge to the hegemony of both the Catholic church and the English church and state. Tyndale also wrote, in 1530, The Practyse of Prelates, opposing Henry VIII's divorce on the grounds that it contravened scriptural law.

In 1535, Tyndale was arrested by church authorities and jailed in the castle of Vilvoorde outside Brussels for over a year. He was tried for heresy, strangled and burnt at the stake. The heretical Tyndale Bible, as it was known, continued to play a key role in spreading Reformation ideas across Europe.

The fifty-four independent scholars who revised extant English bibles, drew significantly on Tyndale's translations to create the King James Version (or final "Authorised Version") of 1611 (still in mainstream use today). One estimation suggests the King James New Testament is 83.7 % Tyndale's and the Old Testament 75.7 %.

Avril Lavigne, "Sk8r Boi."

Avril Ramona Lavigne (pronounced /ˈævrɨl ləˈviːn/; born 27 September 1984) is a Canadian singer-songwriter, fashion designer, and actress. She was born in Belleville, Ontario, but spent the majority of her youth in the small town, Napanee, Ontario. By the age of 15, she had appeared on stage with Shania Twain, and by 16, Lavigne had signed a recording contract with Arista, now RCA Records. Record executive Antonio "L.A." Reid offered her a two-album deal worth more than $2 million. When she was 17 years old, Lavigne broke onto the music scene with her debut album, Let Go, released in 2002.

Let Go made Lavigne the youngest female soloist to reach #1 in the UK, the album was certified four-times platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America. As of 2009, over 16 million copies had been sold worldwide, more than 6 million of which were sold in the United States. Her breakthrough single, "Complicated", peaked at #1 in many countries around the world, as did the album Let Go. Her second album, Under My Skin, was released in 2004 and was her first album to peak at #1 on the U.S. Billboard 200 , eventually selling more than 10 million copies worldwide. The Best Damn Thing, Lavigne’s third album, was released in 2007. This album gave Lavigne her third #1 album in the UK Albums Chart and featured her first U.S. Billboard Hot 100 single, "Girlfriend". Lavigne has scored a total of five #1 singles worldwide, including "Complicated", "Sk8er Boi", "I'm With You", "My Happy Ending" and "Girlfriend". Lavigne has sold more than 30 million copies of her albums worldwide and is currently one of the top-selling artists releasing albums in the U.S., with over 10.25 million copies certified by the RIAA. Billboard named Lavigne the #10 pop artist of the 2000s, and she was listed as the 28th overall best act of the decade based on album sales, chart success, and cultural relativity in the U.S. She is currently working on her fourth studio album, expected to be released in 2010.

Life for the long-lived is a matter of stages. Tynedale had his that fateful day, and Avril has hers to perform on. We have our stages too. It's good that we have our stages, separate and defined and for ourselves, old men and young girls pursuing their separate interests. It's not so good when the stage is occupied by a teenager in his middle age and few knowing how foolish it is, applauding his performance. But he is a sk8r boi. Need I say anything more?


Tim Johnston said...

Should've asked them who John Wesley was :)

btw, I do love Ecclesiastes, it never gets old.

Dag said...

Hi, Tim. I was chatting with a friend about the King James Bible recently, (I don't follow hockey,) and I found myself saying that new and better isn't necessarily better at all. Yes, the scholarship in Bible hermeneutics is light years ahead of anything we see in the KGV, and so what? Avril Lavigne's c.d.s are light years ahead of Tynedale's crumbling pages, but the point is that the girl will be old too soon enough and will be replaced by someone younger and cooler; but they will still have to stand by Tynedale and the KJV. Some things old, regardless of "progress" are as close to the Good as we are likely to get, even in accuracy improves, glossiness improves, and so on.

I found myself in a big snit, actually threw a copy of the Psalms across the street and into traffic, disgusted that the staff of the Income Tax Department had spent who knows how much time and money "up-dating" the work. I go on at length here often enough about the beauty and high value of Modernity, and I call it "Progress." In part it means that the likes of me, an ordinary guy with no status at all, can sit and read the Bible in the vernacular. That is a gift from Modernity. Avril Lavigne and so on, that's not so much the case. That we can have easy and broad access, if we wish, to Ovid is a beauty beyond imagining for such as my great-grandparents. We are free to access the past. That is a beauty of Modernity.