Category : Media

(Sightings) Martin Marty–Are traditional holy days still something more than just any other day?

“Sunday Is Not the New Monday” shouted the headline of the “Success” section in a recent edition of our Chicago Tribune (Monday, December 30, 2019). Having many reasons—cultural, theological, traditional, personal, etc.—to care about Sunday (or analogues to it in Judaism, Adventism, Islam, and more) I took the bait and read on. Author John Boitnott opens the article with a description of what Sunday used to mean—or what he thinks it used to mean—and how it served: “Sunday used to be for relaxing, spending time with family and friends and catching up on personal tasks.” Boitnott says that he associates with “entrepreneurs” and authors of advice columns who encourage their readers to “stay available for work outside traditional business hours.”

Boitnott offers four clusters of advice in settings where “work” casts its shadow on Sundays: “Stop the guilt,” “Remove yourself from the work environment,” “Set limits and retrain those around you,” and “Plan for Monday on Friday.” So far, so good, if “workism” or “workaholism” is your problem. But is that all that is at stake and all that is to be offered to face the problem? We Sightings columnists are charged to notice those overlookable stories wherein religion or the religious may in fact be significant. Reread the Boitnott sentence again, the one about how “Sunday used to be for relaxing, spending time with family and friends and catching up on personal tasks.” Yes, but for tens of millions of North Americans, among others, Sundays (for Christians; Fridays for Muslims; Shabbat for Jews; etc.) were also for helping people tend to general and specific matters of the spirit and the soulful flourishing of life….

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Media, Religion & Culture, Secularism

A Telegraph article on the first of a two-part documentary on BBC Two of the Peter Ball case

The disgraced paedophile bishop Peter Ball repeatedly mentioned his friendship with Prince Charles so he would seem “impregnable”, one of his victims has said.

In 2015 Ball, the former bishop of both Lewes and Gloucester was convicted of sexual offences against 17 teenagers and young men – one of whom took his own life. He was released from prison in February 2017 after serving half of his 32-month sentence. He died aged 87 in June 2019.

Speaking in a new documentary, part two of which airs tonight on BBC Two, one of Ball’s victims, Cliff James, who has waived his right to anonymity, spoke of how Ball would boast about his relationship with the heir to the throne.

Read it all.

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Media, Ministry of the Ordained, Movies & Television, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Violence

(GR) Any darkness to report? The cathedral dean (and bishop) who led St. John the Divine to relevancy

[Dean James] Morton was a liberal Protestant hero who led an Episcopal sanctuary that served as a Maypole around which activists of many kinds danced. However, his career was closely connected with an even more famous liberal Christian hero — Bishop Paul Moore — who was hiding secrets.

Read it all and the NYT article to which it refers.

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in Anthropology, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Media, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, TEC Bishops, TEC Parishes

(GR) Terry Mattingly–After decades of fighting, United Methodists avoid a visit from Ghost of the Episcopal Future?

Wait a minute. The crucial language that the “practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching” was just approved this past February? That hasn’t been the language in church discipline documents for many years before 2019 and affirmed in multiple votes?

But here is the most crucial point. What, precisely, are the “fundamental differences” that the United Methodists involved in these negotiations — leaders from left and right — cited as the cause of the upcoming ecclesiastical divorce? Was it really LGBTQ issues, period?

Consider this commentary from David French (an evangelical Presbyterian) of The Dispatch:

The secular media will cast the divide primarily in the terms it understands — as focused on “LGBT issues” — but that’s incomplete. The true fracturing point between Mainline and Evangelical churches is over the authority and interpretation of scripture. The debate over LGBT issues is a consequence of the underlying dispute, not its primary cause. …

Thus, at heart, the disagreement between the Evangelical and Mainline branches of Christianity isn’t over issues — even hot-button cultural and political issues — but rather over theology. Indeed, the very first clause of the United Methodist Church’s nine-page separation plan states that church members “have fundamental differences regarding their understanding and interpretation of Scripture, theology and practice.”

Ah, there’s the rub. Who wants to put “Scripture, theology and practice” in a news report — especially at NBC Out and similar structures in other newsrooms — when you can blame the whole denominational war over conservatives refusing to evolve on LGBTQ issues?

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Media, Methodist, Religion & Culture, Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths), Stewardship, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Central Florida, TEC Conflicts: Central New York, TEC Conflicts: Colorado, TEC Conflicts: Connecticut, TEC Conflicts: Florida, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth, TEC Conflicts: Georgia, TEC Conflicts: Los Angeles, TEC Conflicts: Milwaukee, TEC Conflicts: Northern Michigan, TEC Conflicts: Ohio, TEC Conflicts: Pennsylvania, TEC Conflicts: Pittsburgh, TEC Conflicts: Quincy, TEC Conflicts: Rio Grande, TEC Conflicts: San Diego, TEC Conflicts: San Joaquin, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina, TEC Conflicts: Tennessee, TEC Conflicts: Virginia, TEC Departing Parishes, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(LARB) Jessica Riskin–Steven Pinker’s Pollyannish Philosophy and Its Perfidious Politics

“INTELLECTUALS HATE REASON,” “Progressives hate progress,” “War is peace,” “Freedom is slavery.” No, wait, those last two are from a different book, but it’s easy to get mixed up. Steven Pinker begins his latest — a manifesto inspirationally entitled Enlightenment Now — with a contrast between “the West,” which he says is critical of its own traditions and values, and “the Islamic State,” which “knows exactly what it stands for.” Given the book’s title, one expects Pinker to be celebrating a core Enlightenment ideal: critical skepticism, which demands the questioning of established traditions and values (such as easy oppositions between “the West” and “the bad guys”). But no, in a surprise twist, Pinker apparently wants us over here in “the West” to adopt an Islamic State–level commitment to our “values,” which he then equates with “classical liberalism” [1] (about which more presently). You begin to see, reader, why this review — which I promised to write last spring — took me all summer and much of the fall to finish. Just a few sentences into the book, I am tangled in a knot of Orwellian contradictions.

Enlightenment Now purports to demonstrate by way of “data” that “the Enlightenment has worked.” [2] What are we to make of this? A toaster oven can work or not by toasting or failing to toast your bagel. My laser printer often works by printing what I’ve asked it to print, and sometimes doesn’t by getting the paper all jammed up inside. These machines were designed and built to do particular, well-defined jobs. There is no uncertainty, no debate, no tradition of critical reflection, no voluminous writings regarding what toaster ovens or laser printers should do, or which guiding principles or ideals should govern them.

On the other hand, uncertainty, debate, and critical reflection were the warp and woof of the Enlightenment, which was no discrete, engineered device with a well-defined purpose, but an intellectual and cultural movement spanning several countries and evolving over about a century and a half. If one could identify any single value as definitive of this long and diverse movement, it must surely be the one mentioned above, the value of critical skepticism. To say it “worked” vitiates its very essence. But now the Enlightenment’s best-selling PR guy takes “skepticism” as a dirty word; if that’s any indication, then I guess the Enlightenment didn’t work, or at any rate, it’s not working now. Maybe it came unplugged? Is there a paper jam?

Read it all.

Posted in Books, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Media, Philosophy

(GR) Richard Ostling reflecting on the struggles the media is having with the label “evangelical” these days

Two of the book’s editors provided standard definitions, In an introduction to a 1984 book, Marsden said “we may properly speak of evangelicalism as a single phenomenon” with “conceptual unity” around five points: “the final authority” of the Bible, the “real, historical” character of God’s work recorded in the Bible, “eternal salvation only through personal trust in Christ,” “the importance of evangelism and missions,” and “the importance of a spiritually transformed life.”

That last point, often mis-characterized, does not require a dramatic moment of “born again” conversion or commitment. People in biblically conservative churches are often “transformed” gradually, but thoroughly.

Bebbington’s 1989 history of British evangelicalism defined the “special marks” as “conversionism, the belief that lives need to be changed; activism, the expression of the gospel in effort; biblicism, a particular regard for the Bible, and what may be called crucicentrism, a stress on the sacrifice of Christ on the cross.”

Confusingly, both the Marsden and Bebbington criteria depict not some distinctive evangelical ideology but ardor for pretty much what all of Protestantism stood for till recent times.

The Religion Guy advises writers to refine those definitions by adding traditionalism in doctrine and morals. Thus evangelicalism embraces the ancient belief in God as the Trinity (excluding “Oneness” Pentecostals, Latter-day Saints and Jehovah’s Witnesses despite some evangelical-like traits), and on morality opposes such innovations as openly gay clergy and same-sex marriages in church.

Note that movement-wide definitions omit certain sectors’ enthusiasm for end-times scenarios or attacks on evolution. Also they involve religious substance, not politics…

Read it all.

Posted in Evangelicals, Media, Religion & Culture

(GR) Terry Mattingly–Why it matters that Canadian Anglicans are having a near-death experience

When I located a condensed versions of the Elliot report (entire report here and raw data here) there was another angle to this story that I was stunned was not discussed in the RNS news report.

Can you spot the story in the following bullet list that would deserve a large-font headline here in the United States?

— The average Sunday attendance has dropped to 97,421.

— A previous report published in 2006 predicted the last Anglican would leave the church in 2061. That number is now 2040.

— The rate of decline is increasing.

— New programs adopted by the church have done nothing to reverse the decline.

— The Anglican Church of Canada is declining faster than any other Province other than TEC, which has an even greater rate of decline.

— The slowest decline is in the number of priests.

The only other province in the global Anglican Communion that is declining faster than Canada is the “TEC”? Did I read that right?

What, readers may ask, is the “TEC”? Last time I checked, those letters stood for The Episcopal Church here in the United States of America.

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Posted in Anglican Church of Canada, Media, Religion & Culture

Friday Mental Health Break–Argos Christmas advert 2019 – The Book of Dreams

Posted in * General Interest, Entertainment, Media

(EF) Letitia Wright and the silencing of personal faith

There was a time when the media assumed that readers had no interest in faith. Whenever spirituality was mentioned, often only exotic beliefs and practices were presented – the Christian faith was not cool enough.

However, things are changing. A few days ago, Apple published a long interview with Kanye West on video about his new album, ‘Jesus Is King’, in which he who is one of the most influential musicians of the twentieth century, spent much of the time talking openly about his encounter with God and how Jesus changed all of his priorities in life.

But not always the public gets to read such reflections. Due to short space or time, interviews are not usually reproduced or published in full, so there is always a margin for the journalist to decide which ideas of the interviewee will appear, and which will not. It is often then when the references to Christianity, it there are any, disappear.

It happened with the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize, Denis Mukwege, of whom few reported that his strong Christian worldview informed all of his work in favor of women victims of sexual violence in war. Something similar could be said about this year’s Nobel Peace Laureate, Abiy Ahmed Ali, a Pentecostal Christian.

Read it all.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Media, Movies & Television, Religion & Culture

(FT) WhatsApp hack led to targeting of 100 journalists and dissidents

At least 100 journalists, human rights activists and political dissidents had their smartphones attacked by spyware that exploited a vulnerability in WhatsApp, according to the Facebook-owned messaging service.

The victims of the attack, which was first revealed by the Financial Times in May, were contacted by WhatsApp on Tuesday.

Their phones were targeted through WhatsApp’s call function by customers of the Israel-based NSO Group, which makes Pegasus, a spyware program. Once installed, Pegasus is designed to take over all of a phone’s functions.

Read it all.

Posted in Corporations/Corporate Life, Ethics / Moral Theology, Media, Politics in General, Science & Technology

(NYT) Biggest Late-Night Guests Now Bring a News Angle, Not a Movie Clip

In this supercharged news environment, anchors like Bret Baier and Chris Wallace, both of Fox News, have been late-night guests, as have the CBS News stalwarts Gayle King and Norah O’Donnell. When Ms. King and Ms. O’Donnell were the lead guests on Mr. Colbert’s live show after the State of the Union address in February, they drew an audience of 4.6 million.

Jay Sures, a co-president of the United Talent Agency, which represents many news anchors, said he had noticed a spike in bookings for his clients. “They’ve unintentionally become celebrities based on how the news business has become part of our daily routine in a way it never has before,” he said. “The Trump era has elevated news.”

Mr. Burnett, the former producer for Mr. Letterman, agreed. “As a rule, we weren’t trying to book politicians or pundits,” he said. “You were trying to book things that your audience cared about. Back then, people did not care about politics to the extent that they do now.”

As Mr. Tapper put it: “It’s a reflection of people just being incredibly engaged and fascinated and focused and horrified on everything going on in Washington. It’s definitely a new world.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Entertainment, Ethics / Moral Theology, Media, Movies & Television, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Donald Trump, Theology

9/11 CNBC Coverage from 8:46-8:55

Posted in America/U.S.A., History, Media, Movies & Television, Terrorism

(NYT) Rod Nordland–Waiting for the Monsoon, Discovering a Brain Tumor Instead

On the morning of July 4, I left Delhi for Uttar Pradesh to report a story on India’s feverish toilet-building campaign. I was out on the street most of the day, when I noticed ink in my journal was smudged with raindrops. “The monsoon has arrived,” I noted.

The smudged page also contained a fragment of overheard conversation: “We will marry our daughter to you only if you have a foot.” It was the first line of an intriguing story I would never write, because the next day I went for a morning jog in Delhi’s beautiful Lodhi Gardens.

That is really the last thing I remember with certainty. I only learned later that I had, somehow, made my way from the gardens to New Delhi’s Golf Course Colony, several miles away.

This is where a malignant brain tumor, as yet undiagnosed, struck me down and left me thrashing on the ground.

Read it all.

Posted in Health & Medicine, India, Media, Natural Disasters: Earthquakes, Tornadoes, Hurricanes, etc.

The Latest Edition of the Diocese of South Carolina Enewsletter

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, - Anglican: Latest News, Media, Parish Ministry

Remembering D-Day–He got to witness The Longest Day

Cornelius Ryan was a 24-year-old war correspondent when he had a chance to see a defining moment in the defining event of the 20th century — the Allied landings on the coast of France to retake France and bring down Hitler.

Ryan at first witnessed the invasion from a bomber that flew over the beaches. Then, back in England, he scrambled to find the only thing he could that was going to Normandy. A torpedo boat that, he learned too late, had no radio. “And if there’s one thing that an editor is not interested in,” he said, “it’s having a reporter somewhere he can’t write a story.”

Recalling those five hours off the coast, watching the struggle on the beaches, he remembered “the magnitude of the thing, the vastness. I felt so inadequate to describe it.”

But today, as the 71st anniversary of D-Day approaches on June 6, Ryan is most likely to be remembered for being the one who did describe it, who told so many millions the real story of what happened that day, in his book which became the famous movie, “The Longest Day.”

Read it all.

Posted in Books, History, Media, Military / Armed Forces

The Latest Issue of the Newspaper of the Diocese of South Carolina is Published

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Posted in * South Carolina, Adult Education, Evangelism and Church Growth, Media, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained

(GR) Richard Ostling writes on recent reports about Religious Affiliation in America and what to Make of them

Writing for the interfaith journal First Things, Mark Movsesian of the St. John’s University Center for Law and Religion (who belongs on your source list) joins those who say the U.S. is experiencing “a decline in religious affiliation among people whose identification was weak to begin with.” As with politics, he proposes, “the middle seems to be dropping out in favor of the extremes on either end.”

Examining the post-2000 mystery, reporters could theorize that priestly molesting scandals undercut Catholic involvement – but they were a continual embarrassment the prior 15 years. Liberals may have been alienated by Protestant churches enmeshed in conservative politicking – but that was the case for two decades before 2000. Many younger Americans reject old-fashioned sexual morality, but churches that upheld that belief fared better than “mainline” Protestants who’ve liberalized since 2000.

So what gives? The Guy proposes that reporters look for underlying societal factors. Americans have eroding faith in all institutions (among which religion is the ultimate institution). And what about the lure of weekend leisure, entertainment and athletics over against attending worship? Perhaps most powerful is the way social-media addiction undercuts face-to-face involvements. How are your area volunteer fire departments or Kiwanis clubs faring?

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., History, Media, Religion & Culture

(The Lincolnite) Former Bishops of Lincoln ignored abuse claims, investigation finds

Two former Bishops of Lincoln “turned a blind eye” to alleged abuse cases and did not report them to police until decades later, a BBC Panorama investigation…[revealed yesterday].

A list of 53 Lincoln Diocese clergy and staff was also eventually referred to the police in 2015, eight years after a review into past safeguarding disclosures was announced.

The Church of England Past Cases Review which examined thousands of records in 2008 and 2009, including some child abuse cases, found that some names could have been referred years earlier.

The police investigation that followed resulted in the conviction of three people….

Read it all.

Posted in Children, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Media, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Teens / Youth, Violence

A C of E Response to the BBC Panorama programme aired today

From there:

Bishop Peter Hancock, the Church of England’s lead safeguarding bishop said: “It has been harrowing to hear survivors’ accounts of their abuse – shared on BBC Panorama – and we issue an unreserved apology for how we have failed them. We acknowledge that the Past Cases Review, PCR, from 2008-10, however well-intentioned was in hindsight clearly flawed, as shown in the independent scrutiny report by Sir Roger Singleton published last summer. The ‘stringent criticisms’ of the PCR, shared with IICSA, are being acted upon and all dioceses are now carrying out a second past cases review, PCR2. We fully acknowledge that it was a serious mistake not to work with and hear from survivors during the original PCR. The new review will ensure survivors voices are heard. We are aware of the courage it takes for survivors to come forward knowing that the effects of their abuse are with them for life.

I would urge anyone affected by the Panorama programme to call the NSPCC helpline number 0808 800 5000.”

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Media, Religion & Culture

(BBC’s Panorama–Scandal in the Church of England

Watch it all (30 minutes).

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Media, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Teens / Youth, Theology, Violence

The Latest Edition of the Diocese of South Carolina Enewsletter

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Media, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry

(Local Paper) Anti-human trafficking posters placed in South Carolina arena bathrooms during NCAA tournament

South Carolina law requires posting of human trafficking awareness posters in hotels, bars and airports.

But with Columbia hosting first- and second-round games of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament this weekend, the posters are on display for the first time ever in Colonial Life Arena.

“There’s always an increase in online solicitation around large sports events, which lands a lot of people in trafficking,” said Alexis Williams Scurry, the project coordinator for the Richland County Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force who pushed for adding the posters.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Media, Sexuality, Sports, Violence

(Church Times) Government too soft on gambling ads, warns Bishop of St Albans

Dr Smith said, however, that there were insufficient penalties for companies who ignored the new standards. “With little consequences for companies flouting the rules, and few teeth to enforce these new directives, the Committee of Advertising Practice needs to step up their approach.

“With so many of the proposals relying on betting firms to self-regulate, I sadly have little hope for major changes to the way gambling advertises.

“This endless barrage of adverts has normalised gambling, and we now have 55,000 children who are problem gamblers and it is time for the gambling industry to take this issue seriously.

“It is our moral duty to protect young people from gambling-related harm, and I hope the Committee of Advertising Practice will support my General Synod motion demanding tighter regulation around gambling advertising.”

Read it all.

Posted in Children, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Corporations/Corporate Life, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Gambling, Media, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(WSJ) Bill McGurn–A NYT Reporter Trolls Christian Schools

Whatever Mr. Levin’s intention, he has provoked an outpouring from people attesting to the wonderful difference Christian schools have made in their lives. Nor is it only conservatives who speak this way. Here’s Justice Sonia Sotomayor in 2013, offering her version of #ExposeChristianSchools when she learned her own parochial school, Blessed Sacrament in the Bronx, was shutting down.

“You know how important those eight years were?” Justice Sotomayor said in an interview with the New York Times. “It’s symbolic of what it means for all our families, like my mother, who were dirt poor. She watched what happened to my cousins in public school and worried if we went there, we might not get out. So she scrimped and saved. It was a road of opportunity for kids with no other alternative.”

One of the lesser known things about Catholic schools is that they boast a 99% high-school graduation rate—with 86% going to a four-year college, nearly twice the 44% rate of public schools. Particularly in the inner cities, these schools are a lifeline, not least for the tens of thousands of non-Catholic children of color who without that education might be condemned to lives lived at the margins of the American Dream.

Among the features that set Christian schools apart is the command to see the face of Christ in each child. Human nature being what it is, reality often falls short. But it remains a beautiful expectation, a reminder that the children before you are to be not only taught but loved.

Read it all.

Posted in --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Education, Media, Religion & Culture

(Guardian) BBC ‘Year of Beliefs’ to shine light on faith and values in modern UK

The BBC is launching a year-long series of programmes examining faith, belief and values in modern Britain.

As part of its coverage of a society that is “more diverse, more complex and more divided than ever before”, the corporation will launch a major survey of attitudes to contentious issues and ethical dilemmas.

The broadcaster’s “Year of Beliefs” commissions include landmark series and one-off documentaries on television and radio to address issues such as science and religion, LGBT+, circumcision, surrogacy and medical ethics.

Among the programmes is Inside the Vatican, a look behind the scenes at the independent city-state at the heart of the Catholic church, filmed over a year. The two-part documentary promises “astonishing access”, including to Pope Francis, the choristers of the Sistine Chapel, the Vatican’s security personnel, diplomats and gardeners.

A one-off documentary, Welcome to the Bruderhof, explores a village near Hastings that is home to 300 Christians who live together as disciples of Christ, spurning cars and mobile phones.

Read it all.

Posted in England / UK, Media, Movies & Television, Religion & Culture

The Latest Edition of the Diocese of South Carolina Enewsletter

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Media, Parish Ministry

(GR) Washington Post editors still don’t understand that private schools – left and right – have doctrines

All in all, this was a perfectly normal elite mainstream newsroom story about this divisive religious-liberty issue — especially since the newspaper’s religion desk was not involved. The story quotes exactly the sources one would expect to see quoted, without any troubling information from old-school liberal First Amendment sources.

As always, let me stress that journalists do not need to agree with the views of traditional religious-liberty liberals (often called “conservatives” these days) when covering stories of this kind. It is essential, however, to understand the points of view on both sides, while providing accurate coverage.

The key: Do readers finish this Post story knowing that religious institutions on the left — not just conservative schools and organizations — have these kinds of policies defending their beliefs? Religious liberals and secularists have been known to drive wedges into national life, too.

Again, please consider the experiences of an evangelical — an ordained Anglican woman — in that earlier Vanderbilt case.

Why not look at both sides of these issues? Why not examine the work of religious educators in voluntary associations on the educational left and right?

Read it all and follow the links.

Posted in Education, Law & Legal Issues, Media, Religion & Culture

The Latest Edition of the Diocese of South Carolina Enewsletter

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Evangelism and Church Growth, Media, Parish Ministry

(NYT) Finding It Hard to Focus? Maybe It’s Not Your Fault The rise of the new “attention economy.”

It was the big tech equivalent of “drink responsibly” or the gambling industry’s “safer play”; the latest milestone in Silicon Valley’s year of apology. Earlier this month, Facebook and Instagram announced new tools for users to set time limits on their platforms, and a dashboard to monitor one’s daily use, following Google’s introduction of Digital Well Being features.

In doing so the companies seemed to suggest that spending time on the internet is not a desirable, healthy habit, but a pleasurable vice: one that if left uncontrolled may slip into unappealing addiction.

Having secured our attention more completely than ever dreamed, they now are carefully admitting it’s time to give some of it back, so we can meet our children’s eyes unfiltered by Clarendon or Lark; go see a movie in a theater; or contra Apple’s ad for its watch, even go surfing without — heaven forfend — “checking in.”

“The liberation of human attention may be the defining moral and political struggle of our time,” writes James Williams, a technologist turned philosopher and the author of a new book, “Stand Out of Our Light.”

Read it all.

Posted in --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Corporations/Corporate Life, Media, Psychology, Science & Technology

(WSJ) Egyptian Legislation treats social-media accounts with more than 5,000 followers as media outlets, opening Twitter and Facebook users to prosecution

Egypt’s parliament passed a law giving the government sweeping powers to regulate traditional and social media, a move critics say will boost the Sisi regime’s ability to crack down on free speech and dissent.

The measure allows authorities to penalize traditional media like television and newspapers for spreading what the government terms fake news. It also treats social-media accounts with more than 5,000 followers as media outlets, opening Twitter and Facebook users to prosecution on vague charges including defaming religion and inciting hatred.

Most prominent media outlets in Egypt are pro-government, and some analysts and rights groups see the law as an aggressive attempt to restrict social media, which remains one of the few remaining arenas of free expression in a country where independent news websites are often blocked and unauthorized street protests banned.

“These laws would legalize this mass censorship and step up the assault on the right to freedom of expression in Egypt,” said Najia Bounaim, North Africa campaigns director at Amnesty International, commenting on the law and related legislation ahead of the vote.

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Posted in --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Egypt, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Media, Middle East