Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Yesterday's News

Surely the example of the 650-year-old New College, Oxford should have been the warning? Sticking "new" on anything is a guarantee of anomaly.

I thought this today as I reflected that the original "New English Bible" was a hostage to fortune. In 500 years' time, remaining copies will still be so-called, even though they won't be. "Hymns for Today's Church" is now "Hymns for the 1980s Church". The original C of E "Hymns Ancient and Modern" should now be renamed "Hymns Ancient and Old".

The "Revised Standard Version" was quite well-named - being a revision of the Standard Version. But when they revised that, did they go with it, calling it the "Re-revised Standard Version? No, they didn't. And now the "New Revised Standard Version" stands, as our language changes and research continues, to become the "Slightly Archaic Revised Standard Version".

And don't even get me started on "Today's NIV", or "Good News for 1970's Modern People".

We seem unable to realise that we are just at one point on the time continuum. It is special, because it is "Now". But in years to come, "Now" will just be another point in the ever-circling years. "New" is always relative, and treating it like it is absolute is a mistake. Blimey, even "Shine, Jesus, Shine" was new and exciting once.

Now I've noticed how, if you want to get a lot of Web traffic, it's important that you randomly attack some minority group. So this morning I would like to have a go at the Catholic Apostolic Church, or "Irvingites". As I recall the story, when the Catholic Apostolic Church set themselves up, they appointed some to be Priests, some to be Bishops, some to be Angels - and then they decided they wouldn't need to appoint any more Angels (the people who could ordain other ministers), as the End was coming. The Irvingites are no longer invited to Churches Together meetings, as they have all died out.

They confused the specialness of "Now" with it having infinite significance, didn't they? All Adventist groups do - all Doomsday cults, all who think that "Now" is so special, because we live here, that everything of significance must happen now. Our now-things become "New" things because who's gonna think about the New things to come next? What could New Labour brand itself, once it was as old and shabby as the old model? The Seekers became the New Seekers. And somewhere out in a Butlins or at the end of the pier in some British seaside resort, they're probably still going. Unless, as sometimes happens with old acts, they've had a bit of a schism and the "New New Seekers" are playing one venue while the "Original New Seekers" play another one.

Ah me, the world turns and all things are new - and then they're not.  The shiny snow of yesterday becomes the frozen death-trap of this morning - and the mucky slush of tomorrow. "Carpe Diem",  say I. Enjoy the new - enjoy the now - but know that tomorrow it will be old.


  1. The New Seekers were nothing like the original ones. Judith, Bruce, Athol and Keith could really make music, unlike the bunch of chancers who grabbed the name before anyone could object to it. And the original ones are now enjoying retirement back home in Oz while the ersatz versions are doomed, like the Flying Dutchman, to play Batley Working Mens Club until they drop.

    There was a time, before the rise of TV advertising, when the term 'new' was viewed with suspicion. What was wrong with the old one? And what indeed, other than the new version is designed to get you to part with your money all over again for the same thing. Alas, it happens to Bible translations as well - how many different ways of saying the same thing can there be?

    1. Sadly, Judith Durham shuffled off retirement many years back.

  2. New College is a mere 650 years old? Well named, I would say. Here in Virginia we have the New River which, they say, is a mere 300 MILLION years old, but is still new relative to the Meuse and the Yangtse.


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