About this blog

My title

Why would a retired linguist write a blog about faith? Part of the answer lies in the word ‘retired’: my memory is not as good as it used to be, so I like to write down some of the seemingly random thoughts that come to me, along with notes on books I read. But sitting on my hard drive they aren’t much use to anyone, so I decided that some of my notes would go into a blog. I emphasise that the notes on books are written primarily for my benefit, so they are usually neither reviews nor proper summaries. My linguistics publications are available for the world to read (they are listed in my curriculum vitae here). So this blog is devoted to my other passion, the faith which I share with other Christians.

Originally I called the blog Thoughts about faith, but at least some of the things I have in mind are not ‘about faith’ but things upon which faith has a bearing or vice versa. Hence Thoughts around faith.

I suppose some readers may want to know what brand of Christian I am. The simplest response: I believe in the content of the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed (but the charismatic evangelical congregation I belong to never recites them!). I am enthusiastic about writings by N. T. (Tom) Wright and Alister McGrath. Am I a fundamentalist? I rifled the Internet for descriptions and definitions, and found so many that the question is hardly meaningful. I can say that my reading of the creeds is not metaphorical. But I must also say that for a linguist the concept of a ‘literal interpretation’ of the Bible is incoherent, as language depends on the hearer or reader making inferences about what the speaker or writer means. This is true even before one factors in the circumstance that most Christians read a translation, with two layers of inference: the translator’s and the reader’s. But typically there is a ‘plain meaning’ on which a majority of translators and readers can agree. In the US ‘fundamentalist’ and ‘evangelical’ seem to be associated in the public eye with the political right wing, and this is coming to be so in Australia too, but I find myself wishing I could combine some of the Labor Party’s policies with some of the Liberals’, which I suppose puts me in the political middle.

You can find a small website relating to my linguistic work ana short autobiography as a linguist here

I am on Twitter as @MalcolmBeatus (Beatus means 'blessed').