The Extent of Cheating

There’s a fascinating article up at the Chronicle of Higher Education about the extent to which students of all levels will go to pass their courses. In this case, order the author of the article is paid to write papers, malady theses and dissertations for undergraduate and graduate college students.

Read the whole article. It is sick and twisted and will make you wonder about the state of higher education. And it’s not only papers for bricks and mortar classes. The author has even been paid to log into online/distance ed. classes and contribute to online class discussions and online assignments.

The worst though was this little gem:

I do a lot of work for seminary students. I like seminary students. They seem so blissfully unaware of the inherent contradiction in paying somebody to help them cheat in courses that are largely about walking in the light of God and providing an ethical model for others to follow. I have been commissioned to write many a passionate condemnation of America’s moral decay as exemplified by abortion, gay marriage, or the teaching of evolution. All in all, we may presume that clerical authorities see these as a greater threat than the plagiarism committed by the future frocked.

This year, this author will make nearly $66,000 writing papers for profit. Writing for students who cannot write for themselves, either because they lack the ability to, or the desire to. $66,000!!!!!! That’s more than several teachers with PhD’s I know make.

So maybe I should switch career dreams? Maybe I should drop-out of seminary and make money by writing papers. I mean, heck I have to write papers anyway, maybe I should write them not for the goal of getting a degree, but for the money? What do you think?

Yeah, not going to happen.

Bible Translations and George Lucas

It was announced this week that George Lucas is once again re-releasing the Stars Wars movies, sales this time to cash in on the 3D craze. This is not exciting. This is not news. It would be news if Lucas didn’t “re-release” the Star Wars movies every couple of years. Each time, he promises that the movies will be better, but his changes usually amount to nothing more than tinkering, although in some cases it results in fan-boy rage, (repeat after me: Han shot first!) Even the most ardent sci-fi fans are wearying of the glut of Star Wars re-dos on the market. I mean really, how many copies can should one fanboy own?

In other news this week, it was announced that yet another English Translation of the Bible is about to hit the market. The Common English Bible is being released, which means that there are 32 english Bible translations in the market. It has of course raised the question, have we reached the saturation point for English translations?

It feels like Bible publishers are like George Lucas. George Lucas has figured out how to milk the sci-fi geeks for all they’re worth and in the process turned Star Wars from a great cinematic feat into a cash cow machine of marketing brilliance. Bible publishers have done the same with the Bible.

Who are all these translations for? Not for non-Christians. Just like the new 3D Blu-ray, re-edited Stars Wars films are unlikely to win over new fans to Star Wars, it is unlikely that these Bible translations are aimed at winning new people to read the Bible. They are marketed for the Christians. And how many Bible translations do we need sitting on our shelf? Does it really make us read the Bible more? Given the current rate of biblical illiteracy in the Church, it doesn’t seem to be working.

Not to mention that each of these translations then come with their own Novelty Bible marketing schemes, and most of you know that Novelty Bibles are a pet peeve of mine.

Paul Wegner, quoted in the CT article says, “We’ve probably reached the saturation point… It may be doing more damage than good. It’s gotten to the point that people are making money.”

The CT article continues: “In other words, profit may be prompting more translations than readability concerns demand.”

Now I’m not arguing that we should be KJV-only folks. Just as we shouldn’t all have Star Wars on Beta-Max. Both are pretty outdated in 2010. I just wonder if the Bible publishers’ time would be better spent working on translating the Bible into those languages that still don’t have access to the written Scriptures. Likewise, I wonder is George Lucas would be better off spending time working on a different project, even expanding the Stars Wars universe (that is so long as he writes the cheques and lets someone else do the writing).

Or, in the category of “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em,” they could combine forces and Bible translators could work on producing a Bible translated into Shyriiwook (That’s “Wookieespeak” for you non-nerds)!

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Addendum: For the record, I own two copies of the Stars Wars Trilogy, one on DVD and one on VHS (though the VHS is in a box in the basement somewhere).
Addendum 2: I have 6 Bible translations on my shelf.
Addendum 3: The Stars Wars universe consists only of the original three movies (A New Hope; Empire Strikes Back; and Return of the Jedi), the new movies do not exist.