Category : Media

(FB) Matthew Continetti–The Great American Earthquake: Can the foundations of our society hold?

I have thought a lot about Kristol’s essay in recent weeks, as one American institution after another has found itself beleaguered, besieged, crippled, and delegitimized. We may be richer and healthier and safer in the aggregate than our predecessors. But the parade of ugliness we face bears more than a passing resemblance to theirs.

Riots and the suppression of freedoms on campus, drug addiction, deadly clashes between white nationalists and left-wing radicals, increasing numbers of hate crimes, mass shootings, bitter arguments over the national anthem resulting in declining ratings and support for the National Football League, a cascading stream of allegations of sexual impropriety against figures in entertainment and in politics, the slow-motion disintegration of our major parties—it’s as if America itself has been thrown into the midst of a demolition derby, with every one of our prominent figures and major institutions targeted for destruction by Monster Truck.

Beginning with the sexual abuse scandals in the Catholic Church, and carrying on through our ambiguous interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan, the financial crisis, the rollercoaster ride of the Obama and Trump presidencies, the comeuppance of the elite media and political class in the 2016 election, and the racial and sexual and class-based chaos of today, the temporal and spiritual authorities to whom we once looked for guidance have been subverted, disestablished, exposed. And all the while the erosion continues of the civic-bourgeois culture to which Kristol referred….The slightest glance at political, entertainment, and business headlines demonstrates that the bourgeois virtues of restraint, frugality, reticence, self-control, self-discipline, and fidelity are not only absent in our public life. They are denigrated. Nor is this a mere political phenomenon. The liberation of the sovereign self transcends race and creed, religion and party. It has bloated our waistlines along with our national deficits, tossed families into a spin cycle of disorientation and breakdown, and endangered and addled children.

Read it all; also cited by yours truly in the morning sermon (my emphasis).

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Marriage & Family, Media, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Sports

(Wash Post) Erik Wemple–NYT’s (former Supreme Court Reporter) Linda Greenhouse boasts of monthly Planned Parenthood donations

Linda Greenhouse has nothing to hide with respect to her charitable activities. Writing in her new book “Just a Journalist: On the Press, Life and the Spaces Between,” the former New York Times reporter notes that she wasn’t content to allow Planned Parenthood to deduct a monthly contribution from her bank account. “It was important to me to write a check every month and sign my name,” writes Greenhouse, who is now a contributing op-ed writer for the same paper. “It was the signature of a citizen. The stories that appeared under my byline, on abortion and all other subjects, were the work of a journalist. If anyone ever thought those failed to measure up to professional standards, they never told me or anyone else.”

That’s one heck of an internal firewall. Skeptics of Greenhouse’s remarkable ethical divisibility are already speaking up. “Rather than meld her identities, she dons or sheds them whenever convenient,” writes Washington Post book critic Carlos Lozada.

The New York Times itself preaches caution when making donations. “Staff members should think carefully about their own contributions to various causes, bearing in mind the need for neutrality on divisive issues,” notes a September 2004 New York Times ethics guide. “Those in doubt about contributions should consult their supervisors and the standards editor or the deputy editorial page editor.”

Read it all.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Media, Politics in General, Supreme Court

The new Church of England website launches this week

[Wednesday of this week]…marks a significant milestone since the founding of the Digital Communications team at Church House in London one year ago. We’re thrilled to announce the launch of the new Church of England website, which has been rebuilt from scratch with the help of many colleagues in the national office in just seven months from start to finish.
While the old website received lots of traffic and interest, the confusing user experience and the 75,000+ documents and pages on the site were identified as key issues. These were resolved by content and plain English workshops for staff.

In January 2017 we ran an extensive research project with 1,800 Christians and non-Christians across the country. This included doing the following to understand what people found frustrating, what they’d like to see more or less of and, crucially, how Christians grow in faith and how we bring new people to faith:

Focus groups in Carlisle, Blackburn, Birmingham and London
1:1 interviews
Targeted national online surveys through social media
Website analytics and heatmapping how users interact with the content.

Read it all.

Posted in Blogging & the Internet, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Media, Religion & Culture

(Telegraph) Tim Stanley–Why do the Today presenters think it’s OK to bash the God slot? I think they are jealous

t’s hard not to take this personally. When a Today programme host calls Thought for the Day “deeply, deeply boring,” he’s talking about me. Literally.

Tomorrow at 6am, I’ll get up, pull clothes over my pyjamas, take a taxi to Tunbridge Wells and be ready to talk God at 7.47am. “Good morning, Tim,” John Humphrys will say. And I’m tempted to blow a rude, ripe raspberry down the microphone.

People can’t seem to agree on why they dislike Thought for the Day. My conservative friends complain it’s too secular and packed with Buddhists and Hindus. The people at Today say that it’s far too Christian and preachy.

In fact, it’s designed to tackle a contemporary issue from a faith perspective before a general audience, so it’s written in a very particular, careful manner. It takes a lot of work.

Read it all.

Posted in England / UK, Media, Religion & Culture

(Guardian) Giles Frasier–Here’s my Thought for the Day: stop sneering and keep the faith, BBC

Imagine reading out your Thought for the Day knowing that all this sneering and smirking is going on right in front of you. If it were just about Thought for the Day, it might not matter quite so much. Sometimes the slot is good; sometimes it is not so good. But it has become a totem of the BBC’s attitude towards faith generally – that it is an embarrassing relative it has had to invite to the party, but one who can be made to sit in the corner, and about whom it is acceptable to make jokes. To the overpaid panjandrums of the BBC, religion is for the little people, for the stupid and the gullible. And it’s easy to play this for laughs to a gallery of those who have read a few chapters of the Selfish Gene, and think this has turned them into philosophical giants.

Personally, I don’t see the problem with having a slot ringfenced for a particular subject such as religion. The BBC has several for football, and for science. And then there’s Woman’s Hour. And quite right too. But for some reason, the very presence of religion, even at the homeopathic levels at which it is entertained by the BBC, is perceived as some sort of insult to the precious, godless secularity of the news.

But the news isn’t godless – just the people who report on it. About 31% of people in the world are Christians. About 24% are Muslims. About 15% are Hindus. The vast majority of the people on this planet believe in some sort of God. These faiths, and many numerically smaller ones, have shaped world history, ethics, politics and culture like no other force known to humankind. And, for good or ill, people still live and die for their faith. Quite simply, you cannot understand the world unless you understand something about the way that faith functions in the lives of its adherents.

Read it all.

Posted in England / UK, Media, Religion & Culture

(Christian Today) BBC ‘Today’ programme presenters in extraordinary attack on religious slot provided by Thought for the day

John Humphrys, the presenter of BBC Radio 4’s ‘Today’ programme, has launched an extraordinary attack on the ‘inappropriate’ religious slot ‘Thought for the Day’ (TFTD) in a joint interview with fellow presenters revealing a deep hostility to religion.

The comments come after Christian Today revealed an internal BBC row earlier this year following remarks by the new ‘Today’ editor, Sarah Sands, who singled out TFTD for criticism.

Back then, a BBC Radio 4 spokesperson told Christian Today: ‘Thought for the Day is editorially looked after by the BBC’s Religion and Ethics team in radio and features speakers from the world’s major faith traditions. There are no plans to make changes to it.’

But in a roundtable discussion in the Radio Times to mark 60 years of the ‘Today’ programme, Humphrys is asked: ‘How does it feel when at ten to eight every morning you suddenly have to stop for a sermon in Thought for the Day?’

He replies: ‘Deeply, deeply boring, often. Sometimes not. Sometimes it’s good and the guy or woman is delivering an interesting thought in a provocative way. Usually not….’

Read it all.

Posted in England / UK, Media, Religion & Culture

Michael McManus–Why Aren’t Famous Sexual Offenders Prosecuted?

A growing number of prominent media moguls have been accused of sexual assault – Donald Trump, Roger Ailes, Bill O’Reilly, Bill Cosby and most recently, Harvey Weinstein.

Why have none been successfully prosecuted?

Read it all.

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

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Media, Movies & Television, Sexuality, Violence

(Archbp Cranmer Blog) Adrian Hilton ‘Anglican Communion News Service smears GAFCON and manipulates Archbishop of Canterbury’

When Canon [Andrew] Gross was asked by a journalist to comment on the matter of Bishop Michael Curry presiding at Evensong, the context was not linked to the Las Vegas shooting. Only later, in fact, was it learned that the Primates had asked Bishop Curry to lead them in prayer for Las Vegas, but he had not presided over anything, as Canon Gross had been led to believe.

When Gavin Drake (who, you must remember, is editor of the Anglican Communion News Service) put his question to the Archbishop of Canterbury (his ultimate boss), it was not a casual query to elicit grace and enlightenment, but a pointed attempt to score a hit against GAFCON. It was not only premeditated slander wholly lacking in Christian virtue and professional journalistic integrity, but an egregious manipulation to elicit outrage from the Archbishop of Canterbury who was asked to respond to a false accusation that GAFCON had said it was wrong for Bishop Curry to lead prayers in the wake of the Las Vegas shooting.

They had said no such thing.

The Rev’d Canon Andrew Gross had never said any such thing.

Apologies to him, once again, for simply trusting the ACNS story, which was, in fact, nothing but Anglican fake news.

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Primates, Ethics / Moral Theology, Media, Partial Primates meeting Canterbury 2017

(BBC) Archbishop Justin Welby criticises BBC response to Jimmy Savile’s crimes

The Most Rev Justin Welby said the BBC had not shown the same integrity over accusations of child abuse that the Catholic and Anglican churches had.
Abuse survivors disputed that, saying their experience was of “long years of silence, denial and evasion”.
The BBC said it did not recognise the accusation against the corporation, and had acted transparently over Savile.
The archbishop was invited to contribute to a series on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, looking back at Britain over the past 60 years, to mark the programme’s anniversary.

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Media, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture

(Guardian) Franklin Foer–Facebook’s war on free will: is technology is making our minds redundant?

All the values that Silicon Valley professes are the values of the 60s. The big tech companies present themselves as platforms for personal liberation. Everyone has the right to speak their mind on social media, to fulfil their intellectual and democratic potential, to express their individuality. Where television had been a passive medium that rendered citizens inert, Facebook is participatory and empowering. It allows users to read widely, think for themselves and form their own opinions.

We can’t entirely dismiss this rhetoric. There are parts of the world, even in the US, where Facebook emboldens citizens and enables them to organise themselves in opposition to power. But we shouldn’t accept Facebook’s self-conception as sincere, either. Facebook is a carefully managed top-down system, not a robust public square. It mimics some of the patterns of conversation, but that’s a surface trait.

In reality, Facebook is a tangle of rules and procedures for sorting information, rules devised by the corporation for the ultimate benefit of the corporation. Facebook is always surveilling users, always auditing them, using them as lab rats in its behavioural experiments. While it creates the impression that it offers choice, in truth Facebook paternalistically nudges users in the direction it deems best for them, which also happens to be the direction that gets them thoroughly addicted. It’s a phoniness that is most obvious in the compressed, historic career of Facebook’s mastermind.

Read it all.

Posted in --Social Networking, Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Media, Philosophy, Psychology, Science & Technology

(TGC) Trevin Wax–Should We Pull The Plug On Cable News?

A steady diet of cable news reinforces the idea that everything is about politics, that everything is life or death, and that we should all devote our attention to the big news story every day. (Consider how news channels count down to big events, as if the entire country waits breathlessly for whatever the channel determines is most important!)

No TV 

Recently, I finished Andy Crouch’s The Tech-wise Familya book from a journalist and writer who I’ve long respected for his insight into faith and culture. Crouch is a brilliant commentator on society and culture. And he doesn’t have a television in the living room. The TV is in the basement. (The family turns it on so rarely that his daughter wasn’t even sure they had one!)

John Piper, a preacher and writer highly influential in American evangelicalism (especially among younger generations) doesn’t have a TV at all. He’s never had one.

Which makes me wonder: could it be that the reason Andy Crouch’s cultural analysis is so astute and Piper’s devotional and exegetical writing is so compelling is because they don’t spend time in front of the screen?

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Media, Movies & Television

(AP) Rights Group: Egypt Exerts Growing Control Over Local Media

Egypt’s privately-owned media are increasingly dominated by businessmen linked to the government and its intelligence agencies, a rights group said this week.

Reporters Without Borders, known by the French acronym RSF, said in a Tuesday report that “the regime’s domination of the media continues to grow and is even affecting pro-government media.”

Virtually all Egyptian media outlets are openly supportive of the government, which in recent months has blocked hundreds of websites, including many run by independent journalists and human rights organizations. Authorities have set up media watchdogs to monitor journalists’ work, made it a crime to report “false news,” and have arrested a number of reporters.

The suppression of independent media is part of a larger crackdown on dissent launched after the military overthrew an elected Islamist president in 2013. Since then, Egypt has ranked near the bottom of press freedom indexes.

Read it all.

Posted in Egypt, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Media, Middle East, Politics in General

(SC Featured) Jackie Robinson’s Daughter Narrates the Moving Story of Claire Smith, Sports Journalist soon to be honored at Cooperstown

Posted in America/U.S.A., History, Media, Sports, Women

(Time) Jade Weber–I Have an Open Marriage and My Relationship Is Better Than Ever

Before I met Nicholas, I’d been in several monogamous relationships but had never been able to remain faithful in any of them. With him, it was easy—not just because I was so sexually attracted to him, but because I loved him so much. Now and then, we’d have the typical “oh, a threesome would be fun someday” conversation, but we never really dug any deeper.

Everything changed in 2011, when someone in our family experienced a life-threatening accident.That kind of changed our perspective about life and the need to live every single day to its fullest.

Meanwhile, I’d started craving a little sexual excitement into our lives, and the idea of an open relationship intrigued me. But I had no idea how to even approach the idea with Nicholas, or how it would actually play out in reality. At that time, our social circle didn’t include anyone else who had an open marriage, so I wasn’t sure where to start. That’s when I sought counsel from some friends on the West Coast who were involved in such relationships.

Read it all.

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

Posted in Media, Psychology, Sexuality, Women

John Stackhouse-Getting the Facts Straight about Religion at the CBC

The CBC’s Neil Macdonald embarrassed himself this past week by letting loose on all things religious under the guise of a warning about new Conservative leader Andrew Scheer. “Andrew Scheer says he won’t impose his religious beliefs on Canadians. We’ll see,” says his headline.

In the meanwhile, however, we can worry about the likes of Neil Macdonald imposing his views on us instead.

Mr. Macdonald starts badly by claiming that he is rigorously committed to facts while “religion, though, is something else. It is by definition not fact-based. It is a pure belief system.”

As a scholar of religious studies, I am unaware of any reputable textbook or dictionary that would define religion in this peculiar way.

Read it all.

Posted in Canada, Media, Religion & Culture