December 22, 2014 07:08 UTC

Entertainment

Jefferson's Bible; Presidential Transportation; Rihanna 'Unapologetic'

Read, listen and learn English with this story. Double-click on any word to find the definition in the Merriam-Webster Learner's Dictionary.

Book expert works to repair and conserve Jefferson's BibleBook expert works to repair and conserve Jefferson's Bible
x
Book expert works to repair and conserve Jefferson's Bible
Book expert works to repair and conserve Jefferson's Bible

Multimedia

Play or download an MP3 of this story
  • Jefferson's Bible; Presidential Transportation; Rihanna 'Unapologetic'

Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC in VOA Special English.

I’m June Simms.
 
On our show this week, we play new music from Rihanna…
 
We also take a look at how the American president gets where he needs to go…
 
But first, we tell about the “personal” Bible of America’s third president, Thomas Jefferson.
 
“Jefferson’s Bible”
 
Thomas Jefferson is mainly known as the author of America's Declaration of Independence, and later the nation's third president. In recent years he received fresh attention after genetic evidence suggested that he fathered children with his slave Sally Hemings.
 
Now Jefferson is back in the public eye. An eight hundred page book by Jon Meacham has just been published, called "Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power." And earlier this year the National Museum of American History in Washington had an exhibition of “Jefferson’s Bible.”
 
As Steve Ember tells us, this was his own version of the Christian bible.
 
Most people do not know about this side of Jefferson -- his interest in studying morals, religion and how people live their lives. He began creating his own bible when he was seventy-seven years old. He actually cut out sections from several printed volumes of the Gospels of the New Testament. He chose passages in four languages -- English, Greek, Latin and French -- and pasted them into his new book. But he changed their order.
 
So why would Thomas Jefferson have wanted to edit the story of Jesus's life? Harry Rubenstein from the Smithsonian Institution organized the exhibit that included all of the bibles Jefferson used, and the one he created.
 
"And, the focus is on just the teachings. He is trying to get as close as possible to the words, the actual words, of Jesus."
 
Jefferson believed that Jesus' life provided the best collection of morals and ethics ever offered. But he wanted to remove everything from the bible that he believed could not be explained by reason.
 
So in Jefferson's Bible, Jesus is not the son of God. There was nothing divine or special about his birth, and there were no miracles like walking on water or making someone see who had been blind.
                          
Jefferson was not alone in questioning traditional beliefs in the years leading up to the American Revolution against British rule. Harry Rubenstein says the colonists were questioning the rights of kings and parliaments and the role of a state religion.
 
"This idea of challenging and questioning principles is a healthy endeavor that is one of the things people look to America as an example of."
 
Jefferson, however, never published his bible. He believed religion was a private and personal matter. He strongly believed that there should be no official religion in the United States.
 
Jefferson is an early proponent of freedom of religion and the separation of church and state. He does this not because he is anti-religious, but, in fact, he believes that if the state doesn't control religion you will have a greater flourishing of religious philosophy."
 
The bible remained in his family until the Smithsonian's librarian bought it from Jefferson's great-granddaughter in eighteen-ninety-five.
                    
A new edition was printed in nineteen four. For about fifty years, every new member of Congress received a copy of Jefferson's Bible. The original from the seventeen hundreds was in poor condition.  So a team of experts at the National Museum of American History carefully repaired and photographed every page.
Alison Mackey of California was one of the people who visited the exhibit of Jefferson's Bible.
 
"I did know that he’s a genius of a man but it was surprising to see that he put it in four languages on one page. That's pretty cool."   
 
Presidential Travel                         
 
We got an email this week from Burma. Ko Maw Gyi wants to know about the transportation and security for the president of the United States.
 
When President Obama has to fly somewhere, the Air Force normally provides the ride. When the president is in an Air Force plane, it is called Air Force One. The name is a radio call sign. An Air Force website says the call sign "Air Force One" was first used in the nineteen fifties.
                                                                   
President Barack Obama leaving Air Force OnePresident Barack Obama leaving Air Force One
x
President Barack Obama leaving Air Force One
President Barack Obama leaving Air Force One
But the President usually flies on one of two specially designed planes. The two Boeing seven-forty-seven planes are very famous. The words “United States of America” are painted on the side of both planes. There are also images of the American flag and the presidential seal.
 
Air Force One has even been the subject of a movie of the same name. Harrison Ford starred in this nineteen ninety-seven action film in which terrorists try to hijack the president’s airplane.
 
The Presidential Airlift Group is responsible for the operation and care of the two Boeings. The planes can fly halfway around the world without re-fueling. But even if they do need more fuel, they do not have to land to get it. The Air Force will send up other planes loaded with fuel for Air Force One. The plane can be refueled while in flight.
 
The presidential planes are very big. Each has more than three hundred seventy square meters of space on three levels. The president has a large office, conference room and living area. There are also two kitchens that can prepare meals for large groups. And there is a room for medical treatment, even surgery. A doctor travels on all the president’s flights.
                                        
The planes are kept at Andrews Air Force Base near Washington.
                                        
Sometimes the president’s air travel does not require a big plane. This is when the Marine Corps steps in. It provides helicopter flights for the president. Can you guess the name of a Marine Corps helicopter when the president is a passenger? Yes. Marine One.
                                        
When the Marine Corps is flying the president several other helicopters fly nearby. This helps protect the president’s helicopter from possible attack.
                                                             
The Marine Corps makes local travel pretty simple for the president. It picks him up and drops him off right on the grounds of the White House.
                                                                          
The president also has an armored limousine for local road travel. The armored vehicle has been nicknamed the Beast. For longer road trips, the president has armored black buses that are called Ground Force One when the president is on board.
                                        
However he travels, the president of the United States never leaves homes without guards. We will tell about the president’s protectors, the Secret Service, next week.
 
 
Rihanna “Unapologetic”

This week, the singer Rihanna released her seventh album in seven years. “Unapologetic” came out Monday. The next day Rihanna held the last show of her “777 Tour,” in which she performed seven shows, in seven countries in seven days. Faith Lapidus more on the singer and her new record.
 
“Unapologetic” has already made history. The single “Diamonds” rose to the number one spot on the Billboard Hot One Hundred.  The twenty-four year old Barbadian singer has now tied Madonna and the Supremes in number of top songs on the chart. Only the Beatles, Mariah Carey and Michael Jackson have had more number one singles.
 
Barbadian singer Rihanna performs during the fifth stop of her 777 worldwide tour at the E-Werk club in Berlin, Nov. 19, 2012.Barbadian singer Rihanna performs during the fifth stop of her 777 worldwide tour at the E-Werk club in Berlin, Nov. 19, 2012.
x
Barbadian singer Rihanna performs during the fifth stop of her 777 worldwide tour at the E-Werk club in Berlin, Nov. 19, 2012.
Barbadian singer Rihanna performs during the fifth stop of her 777 worldwide tour at the E-Werk club in Berlin, Nov. 19, 2012.
                               
“Unapologetic” has a very personal quality.  Rihanna performs the song “Nobody’s Business” with her former boyfriend and rapper, Chris Brown. Several years ago, Brown was found guilty of beating Rihanna. Some critics say the song sends a bad message to abused women.
 
“Unapologetic” includes songs with clear disco and techno music influences. However, songs like “Stay” also have a much stronger rhythm and blues sound than Rihanna’s past records.
This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Rick from: Italy
11/28/2012 5:47 PM
I would like to remember one of the best friends of Thomas Jefferson, Filippo Mazzei. An italian philosopher, writer and entrepreneur and protagonist of American revolution. Check out his history on the net. Thanks to VOA for all of this interesting article.

In Response

by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
11/30/2012 2:43 AM
Dear Rick, thank you for your kind information. I looked up online and found a site telling about Filippo Mazzeri briefly. I understand he is called as the "Godfather" of the Declaration of the Independence as you informed us. By the way, I've visited Rome and Firenze several years ago. I would love to visit again especially southern part of Italy.

http://www.sicilianculture.com/people/mazzei.htm
Famous Italians: Filippo Mazzei
December 25, 1730 - - - March 19, 1816


by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
11/26/2012 5:19 AM
Presidential travel is a timely story as Obama has visited Burma recently for the first time as an American president. Air Force One, Marine One and the Beast are all interesting on how to be organized to guard a president without failure. I'm looking forward to listenning to the next part of the Secret Service. But how much could we learn of its secret ??


by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
11/26/2012 5:01 AM
Wiki says Thomas Jefferson was a very talented person. He learned Greek, French and Latin from the age of nine so that he undestand these languages and the faith of the Bible more deeply. He was born and died in Virginia. He was also a outstanding architect. He designed his own gorgeous house called Monticello meaning small hill in Italian and regignated as one of world heritage now. He found the university of Virginia as the only one president ever having built university in America, too. The epitaph written by himself at Monticello is said to tell as follows.

HERE WAS BURIED THOMAS JEFFERSON AUTHOR OF THE DECLARATION OF AMERICAN INDEPENDENCE OF THE STATUTE OF VIRGINIA FOR RELIGIOUS FREEDOM AND FATHER OF THE UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA

Anyway, his spirit shown in America's Declaration of Independence probably effected by the enlightment thoughts of John Locke and Francis Bacon raised more than a century before in England for sure lead French Revolution beginning in 1787 twelve years later of American Revolution. Freedom of religion seems one of the most important thoughts in these revolutions. As seeing worship by Islamists are conserved in America in spite of 9.11 gorund zero disaster by discriminating terrorists from Islamists, I think Jefferson is still alive in the present America.

In Response

by: kika from: spain
11/28/2012 9:37 PM
hi Yoshi. You are like a teacher. You have a pretty good level of english. the more I listen to the report the more I want to speak like you. congratulations from me

In Response

by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
11/30/2012 9:22 AM
Hi kika, thank you very much for your kind cheer all the way from Spain. Let's keep on listennig, go on practicing with a lot of peers around the world !!


by: franco devi from: ROME ITALY
11/25/2012 6:36 PM
FABULOUS!


by: BIJU.P.Y. from: SOUTH INDIA
11/25/2012 4:56 PM
Thomas Jefferson's attempt to renew the Bible may be right in the wrong way. The world may change but the word of the Lord does not. Bye the bye, I think American president's security may be the biggest security a nation can offer to a president. It exposes the culmination of science and technology at command of great leaders like the American president. Fuelling while flying is a knew knowledge thrown to us by you, VOA. It is really thrilling. The unheard melodies about it is impatiently awaited. Not that alone, I was virtually carried away by the music distributed here. It was like a lullaby of sweet dreams. Thank you, next week I wish only if I could not miss your royal feast.

Learn with The News

  • Google Scrubbing Search Results

    Video What’s the Top 'Trending' Search This Year?

    At the top of Google’s top-trending searches list is Robin Williams, the American comedian and actor who died four months ago. The list also includes the World Cup, Ebola, Malaysia Airlines, ISIS and Flappy Bird. Chances are that more people have heard of the game Angry Birds than Flappy Bird. More

  • Obama College Sexual Assault

    Video How the US Deals with its Sexual Assault Problem

    A new study shows young women ages 18 to 24 are the most common targets of rape and sexual attack. Many Americans are dealing with the problem. They are hearing and reading about the issue, from awareness and activism at colleges to programs to fight it at the highest levels of government. More

  • Video Helping California’s Homeless

    Federal officials believe there are hundreds of thousands of homeless people nationwide on any given day. Each one lacks a permanent place to live. Reasons for homelessness can include the high cost of housing, poverty and unemployment. Other reasons are mental health problems and bad luck. More

  • Rice farmers in Cambodia tend to their crops. Some 12% of the country's paddy fields are believed to have been destroyed due to the flooding in Southeast Asia.

    Audio Cambodian, Thai Rice Voted Best in the World

    For the third straight year, the World Rice Conference has voted Cambodian rice as the world’s best. This year Cambodia shares the award with Thailand. Cambodia produced just one percent of the world’s rice in 2012. It is trying to increase that amount. The award may help. More

  • Chinese President Xi Jinping, left, and U.S. President Obama participate in a welcome ceremony for President Obama at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2014. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

    Audio Is China Starting to Live its Dream?

    Trust in the American dream may be disappearing. But halfway around the world, a new dream has been gaining strength -- the Chinese dream. To be exact: President Xi Jinping’s Chinese dream. But, what is the Chinese dream? And how has President Xi started to make his dream for the country a reality? More

Featured Stories

  • Obama National Christmas Tree

    Audio The History of Christmas in America

    In the first half of the 19th century, Christmas was a very different kind of holiday than it is today. People did not have a set way of celebrating. Christmas was not even an official holiday yet. More

  • Video Music Shows in Private Homes Gain Popularity

    Attending a live musical performance, be it in a huge arena or a small cafe, is an exciting experience. But here in the U.S., a very different kind of performance is gaining popularity: house concerts. “There's just a totally unique experience as opposed to playing like a coffee shop or a bar." More

  • Lee Surrenders to Grant at Appomatox

    Audio Southern General Robert E. Lee Surrenders at Appomattox

    General Robert E. Lee’s military skill and intelligence helped extend the war between the states. But even his skill could not save the South from the industrial power of the North and its mighty armies -- armies that were better-fed and better-equipped. On Sunday, August 9, Lee surrendered. More

  • Uganda Playground for Disabled Children

    Audio Helping Uganda’s Disabled Children Play

    You may think that all children have freedom to play. But for children who look differently from others or have physical disabilities, the idea of play can seem far away. An organization in Uganda is seeking to change that. Read on to learn words needed to talk about this sometimes difficult topic. More

  • A microneedle used to inject glaucoma medications into the eye is shown next to a liquid drop from a conventional eye dropper. (Georgia Tech Photo: Gary Meek

    Audio Tiny Needles Treat Eye Disease

    Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness around the world. In the United States, more than two million people suffer from the disease. Now, researchers are developing very small needles that may offer a more effective and painless treatment for glaucoma and other eye diseases. More

Practice Your Writing

Confessions of an English Learner BlogConfessions of an English Learner Blog

Tell us About Our Programs