Category : Media
[Billy] Graham gave the editors four pieces of advice that still ring true, even in today’s embattled journalism marketplace.
1. Increase local, national and global religion news coverage — period. Look for “street-level” religion and don’t be afraid to put these stories on page one.
2. Dig deeper than the “bare facts,” probing the ethical and moral angles of issues in medicine, science, business, academia and law.
3. “Build bridges” to religious leaders through face-to-face contacts, just like media leaders do with business people and politicians. Also, help religious leaders understand the realities of the news business.
4. There’s no way around it: Hire experienced religion reporters who have demonstrated excellence on that beat. Isn’t that, Graham said, the way you hire sports reporters?
…one truth cannot be denied.
“Religion often sways whole societies,” Graham said, “and can even change the course of history.”
The archbishop of Canterbury has said ‘there is nothing more important’ than a free press holding people to account.
Justin Welby said journalists are ‘indispensable’ as he spoke to students at Canterbury Christ Church University.
‘In most of the countries where Anglicans live… there is no freedom of the press, or the press is corrupted in one way or another. In many places people will be tortured, threatened, bribed – all of the above,’ he said in an interview with journalism students.
‘For all the irritations of the press, and I can get as cross with reading a paper as anyone, what they do is hold people to account and make sure we have a free society – there is nothing more important.’
Let’s give Facebook’s nameless content editor credit: he or she may well understand the Crucifixion more truly than do Christians for whom the murder of the incarnate God on a cross has gone from being a scandal to a banality. Facebook is right: the image is shocking, sensational, and excessively violent, because that’s what a crucifixion is! Yesterday in his Palm Sunday sermon (we Orthodox Christians observe Easter a week later this year), my priest said, “We don’t spend this week saying, ‘Those Jews did that to Our Lord.’ We spend it accusing ourselves. We did it to Christ. Every time we sin, we crucify Him. This is on us.” He’s right about that. It’s not a bad thing to be reminded how much He suffered in His body to liberate us from death. What the San Damiano Cross depicts is a murder. But for Christians, it also depicts the defeat of all murder and death, and the necessary prelude to eternal life for all. As we Orthodox sing on Pascha (Easter): “Christ is risen from the dead/Trampling down death by death/And upon those in the tombs bestowing life.”
A Christian culture would know that for the people who revere this symbol, they are looking at an image of death’s defeat, and of eternal life.
But we are no longer a Christian culture, and are becoming less so by the day.
This incident is alarming because of what it reveals about the kind of world that Christians are going to live in. Facebook is one of the most powerful media companies on the planet. If it decides that it will not approve Christian content because it finds that content violent, bigoted, or what have you, then that will have a tremendous potential effect, not only on the ability of Christians to communicate, but (more importantly) on shaping the way the Christian faith is regarded widely in this post-Christian culture.
— Rod Dreher (@roddreher) April 2, 2018
If Christmas is now a secular celebration – described by one newspaper as a season marked by “buying, boozing and bonking” – then what do we make of Easter? Is Holy Week more about chocolate eggs than the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ?
And since the latest British Social Attitudes survey says that more than half (53 per cent) of the British public now describe themselves as having “no religion”, isn’t it time to consign these Christian festivals to history?
Should we accept the advice offered by an advertising campaign on the side of London buses in 2008 that read, “There’s probably no God – now stop worrying and enjoy your life”?
These are some of the questions that I’ve been grappling with since I returned to the UK in 2016, after working for 12 years as a news broadcaster in New York, and became the BBC’s religion editor….
(Wash Post) Court in Metro’s ad ban case discusses Christmas shopping, beer-making monks, charitable giving
A central question before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit: Can Metro allow secular advertisers to promote Christmas shopping and charitable giving, but not the church?
Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh was unrelenting in questioning Metro’s lawyer, former solicitor general Donald B. Verrilli Jr., and stated unequivocally his view that the policy is “pure discrimination” in violation of the First Amendment.
Kavanaugh, who is on President Trump’s list of candidates for possible Supreme Court vacancies, made several references to recent high court opinions, including a 2017 ruling that sided with a Missouri church denied access to government grants meant for a secular purpose.
The two other judges on the panel — Judith W. Rogers and Robert L. Wilkins — pointed out that the archdiocese had acknowledged its ads were designed in part to promote religion, not just charitable giving.
If it is assumed in ‘Christian circles’ that there is bias by the BBC against both the faith and the faithful, I find no consensus on why this is the case. Explanations range from a (possibly literal) takeover of Broadcasting House by satanic forces to, more prosaically, a simple lack of corporate courage within the organisation to swim against the turbulent currents of present-day culture. My own feeling centres on the belief that, having been founded on firm Christian principles by the domineering figure of Lord Reith, it was probably inevitable that, sooner or later, the cultural pendulum would see the BBC swing into sceptical liberalism. The problem is that our current age of multiculturalism has produced a situation in which there is little desire to see the pendulum swing back to some sort of more balanced attitude towards our faith. Nevertheless, whatever the correct analysis, the fact remains that many of us who are Christian leaders find sins of omission and commission at the BBC.
In terms of omission, we find that the role of Christianity in the life of an individual or in history is, all too frequently, conveniently overlooked. Although, as I mentioned, I do not keep records of specifics, let me cite two instances. One is the BBC’s treatment of the limbless Nick Vujicic, a remarkable man who Wikipedia describes in its first line as ‘a Serbian-Australian Christian evangelist and motivational speaker born with tetra-amelia syndrome . . .’ Mysteriously on the BBC website – http://www.bbc.com/capital/story/20150318-leading-without-limbs– all reference to his Christian faith has been removed. Another instance is the omission of Usain Bolt’s firm Christian faith in a lengthy biographical treatment of him at http://www.bbc.com/sport/olympics/37078358. Is this wilful bias or simply a lack of courage and truth to name what motivates these individuals? These are not unique cases. I’ve come across references to organisations and individuals that I know to be Christian where this most fundamental element in their existence is quite simply overlooked.
More subtly, in historical programmes there is all too frequently the airbrushing out of Christianity. Possibly in an effort to make situations and individuals more accessible and sympathetic to the modern mind, the role of church and faith in determining both the culture and the actions of individuals is downplayed. The church, the Bible and Christian ethics almost always seem to have mysteriously gone missing, Photoshopped out of history. It does not have to be so. A positive example here is Series 2 Episode 6, ‘Vergangenheit’, of Netflix’s The Crown which shows Queen Elizabeth II grappling with issues of faith and forgiveness and has a sympathetic portrayal of Billy Graham preaching. Many who have watched it have said that this was precisely the sort of thing that the BBC dare not now produce. For the best part of 2,000 years the Christian faith in some form or other has governed how the people of the United Kingdom thought, spoke and acted. Men and women attended church, said prayers, uttered grace before meals and, whether they followed the tenets of the church or not, they at least considered them. To reject that role for Christianity is to deny history.
(GR) Washington Post attempts the near-impossible: Profiling Virginia Mens Basketball Coach’s Tony Bennett without mentioning faith
Tony Bennett — the coach, not the singer — is quirky. Mysterious. Someone who believes “it’s okay to be different.”
Strangely enough (ghosts, anyone?), the Post manages to write 1,850 words about Bennett without any reference to terms such as “faith,” “Christian” and “prayer.”
Those familiar with Bennett will understand why that’s so remarkable.
I used to think that podcasts were a nimble, cheap, democratic alternative to radio. And maybe, once upon a time, they were. But those days are over. Podcasting has become industrialized, in quite an exciting way. It’s shaping the future of audio-only storytelling, the future of radio—and, possibly, even the future of narrative nonfiction more broadly.
The story of how we got here could be told in an episode of This American Life, the radio show that in many ways started the whole ball rolling.
Act 1, naturally, is Serial. When it was spun out of This American Life in 2014, it immediately became podcasting’s first blockbuster, recalibrating everybody’s ideas of just how big a podcast could become. Up until that point, even the biggest podcasts were pretty lo-fi affairs. Marc Maron’s hit WTF podcast, for instance, traded on rugged authenticity, charm, and a long-winded discursive style that would never find a home on NPR. Serial went a different direction. It used all the resources available to This American Life—a radio blockbuster in its own right—to create a deeply reported and expertly produced series, complete with narrative cliff-hangers worthy of Dickens. The result was a podcast that kept millions of listeners rapt across 12 episodes and some 8.5 hours of true-crime drama. Broadcast radio had not attempted anything as ambitious in decades….
A Chatbot and a new site to share digital resources with lay people and clergy were the two winners of the Church of England’s ‘Digital Labs’ this week.
The event brought together Christian coders, techies and creatives to present their best ideas for helping the Church develop its technology.
One idea to win was Ask the Church, a chatbot to enable people enquiring about faith to ask the Church questions through Facebook Messenger, Twitter and the new www.churchofengland.org website and, in future phases, Alexa, Google Home and Siri.
Meanwhile CofE House will be a site to allow the sharing of high quality new and existing resources and digital assets, to support lay leaders and clergy across the Church.
The video, which appeared on the online forum Reddit, was what’s known as a “deepfake” — an ultrarealistic fake video made with artificial intelligence software. It was created using a program called FakeApp, which superimposed Mrs. Obama’s face onto the body of a pornographic film actress. The hybrid was uncanny — if you didn’t know better, you might have thought it was really her.
Until recently, realistic computer-generated video was a laborious pursuit available only to big-budget Hollywood productions or cutting-edge researchers. Social media apps like Snapchat include some rudimentary face-morphing technology.
But in recent months, a community of hobbyists has begun experimenting with more powerful tools, including FakeApp — a program that was built by an anonymous developer using open-source software written by Google. FakeApp makes it free and relatively easy to create realistic face swaps and leave few traces of manipulation. Since a version of the app appeared on Reddit in January, it has been downloaded more than 120,000 times, according to its creator.
Deepfakes are one of the newest forms of digital media manipulation, and one of the most obviously mischief-prone.
The New technology that allows for the Creation of Fake Videos(I)–a Radiolab Podcast from last summer
Simon Adler takes us down a technological rabbit hole of strangely contorted faces and words made out of thin air. And a wonderland full of computer scientists, journalists, and digital detectives forces us to rethink even the things we see with our very own eyes.
Oh, and by the way, we decided to put the dark secrets we learned into action, and unleash this on the internet.
There is a persistent belief among church-goers that a person should be able to get all the benefits of Christian community without any of the doctrines that make religion unpalatable to modern moral fashion. That’s in essence the mission statement of Mainline Protestantism. And it simply doesn’t work.
The Christian community and Christian service that people love are ultimately inseparable from the entirety of the Christian faith that spawned them. Carve out the doctrines that conflict with modern morals and you gut the faith. When you gut the faith, you ultimately gut the church. It makes sense then that mainline denominations aren’t thriving. They’re dying. Without the eternal truths of the Christian faith, the church becomes just another social club. Why sacrifice your time and money for the same wisdom you can hear at your leisure on NPR?
Here’s the interesting thing: Some of the casual Christians who’ve fled the unsatisfying Mainline are joining more traditionalist churches and schools without changing their beliefs. They don’t become more theologically orthodox, they just crave the benefits of the more orthodox communities. Once in their new religious home, they exert the same kind of pressure for cultural conformity that helped kill the churches they fled. It’s the religious analog of the well-known phenomenon of blue-state Americans leaving their high-tax, heavily-regulated states for red America and promptly working to make it more like the place they left.
Legal victories preserving our fundamental freedoms are ultimately meaningless if cultural pressures create a dreary intellectual conformity. You can win all the Supreme Court cases you want, but if the faithful don’t maintain the moral courage and strength of conviction to tack into the cultural headwinds, it will all be for naught….
I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.