Prints of peace

While enjoying the sport from Beijing, spare a thought for the many Chinese whose human rights are still repressed.

Like Chinese bookshop owner Shi Weihan (aged 37) who was arrested on 19 March but is yet to have a court hearing. No formal charges have been made against Shi but his arrest is believed to be for publishing Bibles and Christian literature. He suffers from diabetes and needs to receive medical attention urgently.

500 years ago, printing Bibles was illegal here.

William Tyndale was executed in 1536 for pioneering the translation and printing of Bibles in English. He wasn’t only a pioneer of religious freedom. Along with Shakespeare, Tyndale shaped our language. When we ask the ‘powers that be’ in China not to be ‘a law unto themselves’ but recognise ‘the signs of the times’, we’re talking Tyndale.

Tyndale wasn’t the first translator of the Bible into english. That was John Wycliffe, back in 1382. But it was printing that made the difference. Printing presses allowed mass communication for the first time, as subversive then as China finds the internet now.

Rebels become heroes over time. William Tyndale is now honoured in the name of the Islington school where Rich is a governor. John Wycliffe gave his name to Wyclif Street and Wyclif House off Northampton Square in Clerkenwell.

Meanwhile Shi Weihen is still in prison. You can send messages asking for his release to the Chinese ambassador in Britain, Fu Ying, here.

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1 Comment »

  1. bridgetfox said

    Referenced in Brit Blog roundup

    http://mreugenides.blogspot.com/2008/08/britblog-roundup-182-olympic-edition.html

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