The Internet makes it very difficult to correct a certain type of journalistic flub. It’s just too easy for information to spread and too hard to stop the multiplication of errors.
After trying without success to correct mistakes the proper way, I decided to correct them here. My hope is that anyone stumbling on the mistake will also stumble on this.
1. “The Tale of Backwater Spiritualism”
I tried to get the Believer to correct this “schema,” recently, when they were revamping their website. They said it wasn’t possible, because the original work files were lost.
I asked them to change two sentences in the original text to read as follows:
• “some creating a style of music that George Harrison would name ‘backwater spiritualism, based primarily upon four hallmarks:…”
• “creating a style of music that could be called ‘backwater spiritualism.’ It had four hallmarks: …”
I also wrote a paragraph of explanation:
“At the time I wrote this piece, I was certain George Harrison had coined the descriptive phrase ‘Backwater Spiritualism’ in the pages of Howard Sounes’ biography “Down the Highway: The Life of Bob Dylan.” And yet, I have never been able to locate the source for this attribution—not then and not now, not in Sounes’ book, nor in any other. One reportorial lesson I have learned in the fourteen years since this piece originally ran is to treat memories with skepticism. An enthusiastic mind can conjure the reality it prefers. Without a concrete citation, I can no longer attribute the phrase to George Harrison, and I regret my lack of due diligence in having done so. —Eric Lidji.”
2. “The biggest struggle facing Christianity”
In 2010, my friend and former co-worker Jonathan Blundell sent around a survey, asking “What do you see as the biggest struggle facing Christianity?” The response had to be 100 words or less. Being Jewish, I was surprised to get the question, but Jonathan said he thought it would be interesting to have at least one response from a non-Christian.
Here was my response, typos retained:
“Some Christians seems to see Christianity as a religion for humanity and others seem to see it as a religion for society. I know Christians who tend to the needy, help the downtrodden and raise their children in the faith. But they don’t seem particularly worried about who is president or what is on television. I also know Christians who do those good things, but believe Christianity should also underpin public life and national law. They argue that if the morality of the Bible is good for individuals then by extension it is good for society.”
Jonathan compiled all of the responses he received into a post on his blog. He posted each response, followed by the name of the responder. But the formatting of the blog post turned out to be a bit wonky, and it eliminated the space between responses.
A few years later, BeliefNet turned his blog post into a feature. But the compiler misread the original post. He associated each response with the name above, rather than the name below. As a result, this response from Brad Vanderberg is attributed to me.
Pride. It opens the door for everything else to come in. The same sin that got Satan kicked out of heaven and the one that causes so much separation in the church today. The church is sick and she doesn’t want to admit that. You have to admit you are ill before you can realize the need for healing. And the few who do recognize it only want to separate themselves from her and judge her. I have been guilty of the latter. It’s time to love the church back to health. The same way Christ loved us to salvation.
Brad Vanderburg (US)
A group called In The Word Ministries later republished the erroneous BeliefNet post, and others have too over the years. I spent a lot of time following the thread of writer and editors, but I was never able to get the matter corrected. So instead, I correct it here.