Category : Media

(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.

Read it all.

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

(NYT)“What? I’m pregnant. I’m still a man. You have questions? Come talk to me. You have a problem with it? Don’t be in my life.”

Paetyn, an impish 1-year-old, has two fathers. One of them gave birth to her.

As traditional notions of gender shift and blur, parents and children like these are redefining the concept of family.

Paetyn’s father Tanner, 25, is a trans man: He was born female but began transitioning to male in his teens, and takes the male hormone testosterone.

“I was born a man in a female body,” he said.

His partner and Paetyn’s biological father is David, 35, a gay man.

Read it all.

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

Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Life Ethics, Media, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Sexuality, Theology

(GR) Julia Duin–When profiling ADF’s Kristin Waggoner, why not include facts about her Pentecostal roots?

There’s so much good in this story, as the details are the result of hours of observation by a keen-eyed reporter. It’s the stuff that got left out that drives me batty.

The story talks a lot about Waggoner’s friendship with Stutzman but doesn’t mention how Waggoner honed her craft through years of working in a law firm here in Seattle, where she got her fill of the liberal politics in this ultra-blue state.

I learned the details of her religious upbringing in Ken McIntyre’s Daily Signal piece where we learn Waggoner is the daughter of an Assemblies of God minister, Clint Behrends, who is on staff of Cedar Park Assembly of God in Bothell, a Seattle suburb. She attended an Assemblies of God college in nearby Kirkland; clerked for a Washington Supreme Court judge, then spent 15 years with Ellis, Li & ­­­­­McKinstry, a Seattle law firm that includes many Christian lawyers. And ever since moving to Arizona to work with ADF in 2014, her star has gone straight up.

We also learn her husband is a lawyer and that they have three kids. Most importantly, she is a Pentecostal Christian. That’s what growing up in the rather moderate Assemblies of God means. Thinking back to 2008, when another female Pentecostal, Sarah Palin, climbed onto the national stage as the Republican Party’s vice presidential candidate, reporters hadn’t a clue how to cover her church. Not much has changed.

I don’t know whether the Post reporter didn’t grasp Waggoner’s beliefs enough to ask her about them or whether she did include those details but an editor took them out. But if this woman’s faith renders her unflappable amidst some tough high-profile cases, not to mention the personal toll of overseeing dozens of lawyers working on similar cases while staying married with three kids, then we should know more about it.

Once again, what is the logic – in terms of journalism basics – for omitting this kind of core information?

Read it all.

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

(GR) Looking at a New York Times Article on Free Speech Cases which begs many questions

When you apply this to other crucial First Amendment doctrines then you would find yourself defending the rights of a single baker (a traditional Christian) to decline a request to create a one-of-a-kind artistic cake celebrating a same-sex wedding rite (after offering the couple any of the standard cakes or desserts in his shop). The baker’s very narrow, faith-based refusal of this task was offensive and caused pain, yet the gay couple had many other options in the local marketplace. The baker is “the powerful” force in this legal fight?

It would also be possible to defend Catholic nuns who refused government commandments that they cooperate with efforts to provide contraceptive options to their own staff, in violations of important Catholic doctrines linked to their mission. The elderly nuns represent the “the powerful” classes in this legal fight?

This Times piece, if the goal was balance, really needed to document cases of conservative forces rising up, during the past decade or two, to DENY First Amendment freedoms to liberal people and liberal organizations. Shouldn’t we be seeing a wave of those? Are liberal voices being silence in public life (as opposed to inside private associations)?

For example, are there examples of liberal, perhaps mainline Protestant, churches and ministries being pressed to violate their doctrines, perhaps being compelled to deliver messages that violate elements of their evolving doctrines? Perhaps there are cases linked to the sanctuary movement?

I am left, once again, wondering what label to assign to contemporary people and groups that are weak in their defense of free speech, weak in their defense of freedom of association and weak in their defense of the free exercise of religion. What should fair-minded journalists call them? What should the Times team have called the powers that be on the “progressive” side of the debate (including the newspaper’s editorial-page team)?

The one label that cannot be assigned to these groups is “liberal.” That just won’t fly, in the wider context of American political thought.

Read it all (my emphasis).

Posted in America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Law & Legal Issues, Media, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(GR) New American Bible Society policy defends (a) ancient orthodoxy, (b) evangelicalism or (c) both?

Let’s start with a few old questions about Christian doctrine and church history.

First, what does does the Roman Catholic Church – at the level of its Catechism – teach about the definition of marriage and the moral status of sex outside of marriage?

Second question: What doctrines do Eastern Orthodox churches around the world affirm on these same topics, which have implications for issues such as cohabitation before marriage and premarital sex?

Third question: What do the vast majority of Anglican churches around the world teach on these same issues? Ditto for United Methodists?

Come to think of it, what does the ancient Christian document known as the Didache have to say on issues linked to marriage and sex?

I could go on. However, let’s jump to a current news story that is linked to these issues. In particular, I would like to call attention to the Religion News Service report that was posted with this headline: “Employees quit American Bible Society over sex and marriage rules.”

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Media, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology

(NYT) For ‘Columbiners,’ School Shootings Have a Deadly Allure

The May 18 mass shooting at Santa Fe provides the latest evidence of a phenomenon that researchers have in recent years come to recognize, but are still unable to explain: The mass shootings that are now occurring with disturbing regularity at the nation’s schools are shocking, disturbing, tragic — and seemingly contagious.

Interviews with law enforcement officials, educators, researchers, students and a gunman’s mother, as well as a review of court documents, academic studies and the writings of killers and would-be killers, show that the school-shooting copycat syndrome has grown more pervasive and has steadily escalated in recent years. And much of it can be traced back to the two killers at Columbine, previously ordinary high school students who have achieved dark folk hero status — their followers often known as “Columbiners” — in the corners of the internet where their carefully planned massacre is remembered, studied and in some cases even celebrated.

Investigators say school shootings have become the American equivalent of suicide bombings — not just a tactic, but an ideology. Young men, many of them depressed, alienated or mentally disturbed, are drawn to the Columbine subculture because they see it as a way to lash out at the world and to get the attention of a society that they believe bullies, ignores or misunderstands them.

The seemingly contagious violence has begun branching off Columbine, researchers say, and is now bringing in more recent attacks, many of them building off the details and media fixation with the last.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Children, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Media, Movies & Television, Psychology, Teens / Youth, Theology, Violence

(Church Times) Want to know about God? Just ask Alexa

The Church of England has launched an “Alexa skill” that provides answers to questions about faith and prayer, and can find a church to attend on the basis of the user’s location.

Launched on Wednesday night, the skill is compatible with all Amazon Echo and Alexa devices. Users can ask questions such as “Who is God?” and “How do I become a Christian?” besides making the device read specific prayers or prayers for different situations or periods of the day.

The skill is similar to an app on a smartphone or tablet, and is one of the “first significant faith-based resources” for Alexa, the C of E’s head of digital, Adrian Harris, says.

It works alongside the website A Church Near You to help users find their nearest church events and services.

Users can launch the C of E skill on Alexa by saying “Alexa, open the Church of England.” A full list of commands is available online.

 

Read it all.

Posted in --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Media, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology

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, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry

(WSJ) Julia Duin–It’s Hard to Find God on the Front Page: A lack of reporters means religious news gets short shrift—and lots of corrections

It’s always been a struggle to persuade news executives that Americans are more interested in religion than, say, sports. Associated Press religion writer George Cornell addressed the issue a few months before he died in 1994. He noted that religious giving in 1992 totaled $56.7 billion—some 14 times the gate receipts for America’s three biggest sports. Cornell also said that attendance at religious events, according to Gallup polls, was 5.6 billion in 1993. That was 55 times the 103 million total attendance reported by the professional baseball, football and basketball leagues. The gap has narrowed in the past 25 years, but religious giving still maintains a multibillion-dollar lead.

Such involvement—no doubt much of it in religiously active flyover country—was not reflected in the average newsroom, even in the relatively cash-flush 1990s. The typical regional paper employed small armies of sports reporters while maybe employing a religion reporter. And Cornell’s pessimistic piece came at only the beginning of a decadeslong decline in daily newspaper circulation. Never-ending layoffs, firings and closings left religion among the most decimated of the specialty beats. Whole regions of the western U.S. and Canada have no staff reporter covering religion. Imagine if no one covered sports in Oregon, Wyoming and Arizona….

It’s a shame so few outlets seem to take religion seriously anymore. Done right, the beat can be quite profitable. Anyone who wants to understand the forces behind much of today’s news needs to understand faith.

Read it all.

Posted in Media, Religion & Culture

(BP) Albert Mohler tells NRB of a ‘new regime of invented rights’

Mohler quoted a 2016 official report from the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights in which the chairman, Martin R. Castro, wrote, “The phrases ‘religious liberty’ and ‘religious freedom’ will stand for nothing except hypocrisy so long as they remain code words for discrimination, intolerance, racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, Christian supremacy or any form of intolerance.”

The commission’s report, Mohler pointed out, placed both religious liberty and religious freedom in scare quotes as if they are “linguistic constructions without any objective reality.”

“We are now witnessing a great and inevitable collision between religious liberty and newly declared and invented sexual liberties,” he said, listing various incidents illustrating how the collision is now taking place.

Mohler encouraged Christian leaders to hold on to the truths expressed in the Declaration of Independence and to defend these truths “that should be, but often are not, recognized as self-evident.”

And to the generation of young people who are committed to the Gospel of Jesus Christ but assume that the defense of religious liberty is political, Mohler said they also need to be committed to the free propagation and voicing of the Gospel, without which sinners will not hear the Gospel.

“We’re in a fight that’s worth fighting,” Mohler said. “And we understand that as we contend for the freedom of religion, and the freedom of speech, and the freedom of press, again, we’re doing this not just for ourselves and for our children, not just for our churches, but for the world.

“Let’s pray that God will give us wisdom to hold these truths in perilous times,” Mohler concluded.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Media, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Religious Freedom / Persecution

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, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry

(Terry Mattingly) Billy Graham’s advice to newspaper editors on covering religion

[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.”

Read it all.

Posted in Evangelicals, Media, 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

(Christian Today) Archbishop of Canterbury: Journalists are ‘indispensable’ to modern Britain

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.’

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Media

Rod Dreher–Is Christianity Too Violent For Facebook?

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.

Read it all.

Posted in --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ethics / Moral Theology, Media, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(Radio Times) BBC’s religion editor Martin Bashir: Why Christianity is still relevant this Easter

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….

Read it all.

Posted in Easter, Media, Religion & Culture

(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.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Media, Religion & Culture, Travel, Urban/City Life and Issues

Bryony Taylor–Representation of Christians on the BBC – my response to J John’s open letter

Read it all.

Posted in England / UK, Media, Religion & Culture

J John writes the BBC about their bias against Christianity

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.

Read it all.

Posted in England / UK, Media, Religion & Culture

(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.”

That’s the basic storyline for an in-depth Washington Post profile of Bennett, whose Virginia Cavaliers men’s basketball team enters March Madness as the No. 1 overall seed.

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.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Education, Media, Religion & Culture, Sports, Young Adults

(Wired) Felix Salmon–The podcasting juggernaut has (finally) arrived

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….

Read it all.

Posted in History, Media, Science & Technology

(CEN) Church Chatbot on the Way

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.

Read it all.

Posted in --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Church of England (CoE), Media, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology

The New technology that allows for the Creation of Fake Videos(II)–yesterday’s New York Times

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.

Read it all.

Posted in --Social Networking, Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Ethics / Moral Theology, Media, Science & Technology

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.

Posted in --Social Networking, Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Ethics / Moral Theology, Media, Science & Technology

(NR) David French–This Is How Religious Liberty Really Dies

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….

Read it all.

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

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Children, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Media, Psychology, Race/Race Relations, Theology

A 2013 Profile of [Mars Hill Audio’s] Ken Myers–Pop Goes the Culture: One man’s quest to preserve and defend the good, the true, and the beautiful

The Journal demonstrates how closely the interests and worries of a conservative Christian intellectual overlap those of any curious traditionalist or cultural conservative, believing or non. Myers’s own curiosity is inexhaustible. On the website’s topic index​—​choosing a letter at random​—​you’ll find under “M” segments on Mondrian (Piet) and Moore (Michael), memory and money, Mendelssohn and Marsalis, masculinity and materialism. I popped in Issue 102 the other day and heard Myers’s pleasant tenor saying, by way of preface: “Is creation meaningful, and if it is, is its meaning perceptible?” This rousing intro opened a series of ruminations and interviews with a variety of scholars and writers. A brief explanation of the split between nominalism and realism in the Middle Ages led to a discussion of Jacques Maritain’s relationship with avant garde painters and musicians in 1920s Paris, then moved through the Fibonacci sequence and the mathematical value of Bach fugues as examples of inherent order, topped off with a tribute to the paintings of Makoto Fujimura by the philosopher Thomas Hibbs. The pace is unhurried, the discussions pretty easily comprehensible. Imagine NPR if NPR were as intelligent as NPR programmers think it is.

Or better: Imagine NPR as it once was, from its founding in the early seventies into the early eighties, when the fateful decision was made to transform an eclectic and discursive ragbag of cultural programming into the fabulously wealthy, grimly professional all-news-almost-all-the-time media colossus we know today. Myers worked at NPR off and on for nearly a decade, spending several years as arts editor for Morning Edition before layoffs from the new regime gutted arts coverage in 1983.

In its original conception, Myers reminded me, “NPR really was an institution devoted to preserving cultural treasures. By the time I left, that vision had vanished, a victim of multiculturalism, postculturalism, autoculturalism, and other fancies.” Myers fondly recalls bygone NPR series like “A Sense of Place: Sound Portraits of Twentieth Century Humanists”​—​a dozen documentaries on longhairs like James Joyce, Igor Stravinsky, and W.E.B. Du Bois.

“ ‘A Sense of Place’ would be unimaginable at NPR today,” Myers says. Today at NPR, as elsewhere, culture means pop culture. With occasional gestures toward jazz, NPR music is the rock music of aging children; the visual arts begin and end with movies and TV, though stage plays will sometimes rouse attention if their themes are sufficiently progressive. This falling off isn’t the fault of the programmers alone, needless to say. In its decline NPR has tumbled in tandem with the tastes of its target audience​—​affluent white people with meaningless college degrees who weren’t educated into an appreciation for richer music and art and who, accordingly, find the whole cultural-patrimony thing intimidating, hence vaguely off-putting, and finally a snooze.

Read it all.

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

(NBC) A brief video that will brighten your day–Meet 18-month-old Lucas, The First Gerber Baby With Down Syndrome

Posted in Children, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Media