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Pop science journalists will never have the Pope they want

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A friend wrote this morning, re Has the Catholic Church changed its mind on evolution? (Of course not, and even the spiky blue airhead on cable TV can’t make it so), wanting to know what the media fuss was all about. I (O’Leary for News) replied,

Gosh, for me this is really the continuation of a conversation some of us have been having for nearly forty years: Why is religion coverage so bad? It’s been bad as long as I can remember.

I mean, bad in a special way. Not just failed opportunities but fundamental misunderstanding.

Couple brief thoughts:

– Most journalists not only aren’t religious but lack any sense of an unseen world. No one makes the effort to recruit people for the position who actually have such a sense.

– Most journalists think they know how history will turn out. The Catholic Church will end up sanctioning a laundry list of progressive objectives [feels good but doesn’t work well, however it is very un-PC to notice that fact]. So they jump on any evidence that that is supposed to be happening, inflating it out of all proportion. The only surprising thing about the recent evolution statement is that someone must – in many venues – have read the actual copy and said, Hey, wait a minute …

– They did this even during the pontificate of St. John Paul II, who was instrumental in bringing down the Soviet empire. The average religion journalist ignored that and focused on trivia. Of course. Trivia is what they do best. Maybe what they do only, in some cases.

As long as the Church is the Church, they won’t have the Pope they want. which is the same thing as saying, they will never have the Pope they want.

Life goes on.

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6 Replies to “Pop science journalists will never have the Pope they want

  1. 1
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Great post – thank you.

    Most journalists not only aren’t religious but lack any sense of an unseen world. No one makes the effort to recruit people for the position who actually have such a sense.

    So true. Journalism treats religion as if it is not worthy of real expertise and study. Journalists seem oblivious to the culture-shaping influence of religion, except for the most extreme and negative aspects. I can’t count the number of times I’ve read stories about Catholicism where the basic facts are wrong.

    They did this even during the pontificate of St. John Paul II, who was instrumental in bringing down the Soviet empire. The average religion journalist ignored that and focused on trivia.

    Exactly. Journalists found nothing to celebrate in the fact that St JPII was the driving factor in the collapse of the Soviet Union. This is true in academia and Hollywood also. JPII should be a cultural hero for the West – and there should have been, by now, at least one, secular, epic-scale movie on that whole drama. Part of the problem, of course, is that the collapse of communism was not much welcomed in journalistic circles anwway, so that’s a problem. Repression against religion is not a story that gets much excitement either — so the problem persists.

    As long as the Church is the Church, they won’t have the Pope they want. which is the same thing as saying, they will never have the Pope they want.

    Brilliant. We’ll see all of these false expectations about Pope Francis remain frustrated once again, and they’ll all be transferred to his successor. The Church sometimes uses the language and even some ideas from secular culture. But it reminds me of the Psalm verse “You set a boundary they cannot cross …”

  2. 2
    Axel says:

    It is an extremely worldly profession, isn’t it? Look who they work for, too. Not many nice guys.

    The most cutting wit you will ever come across is a right-winger satirizing another right-winger. Imo, Evelyn Waugh’s satirical depiction of Rex Mottram, the newspaper mogul cum politician, in Brideshead Revisited, must be one of the most mordantly satirical in any language.

    When The protagonist, as a young officer, Guy someone, was billeted with his unit at the English stately home of his aristocratic chum at Oxford, who should he meet but his chum’s old nanny.

    She was delighted, as he perhaps was. Then she said to him:
    ‘Oooh Mr So-and-so, you’d never guess who we heard on the radio the other day! It was that nice Mr Mottram. He’s an MP now. And who’d ever have imagined that we were entertaining angels, all unawares!’ For Rex Mottram, substitute Rupert Murdoch, Cap’n Bob (Maxwell) or Conrad Black.

  3. 3
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Axel

    Evelyn Waugh …

    I know what you mean, but I’m also sympathetic to the old English standards which are dying off. I know they had their problems and were impossible to live with but they had some good qualities.
    Mr. Waugh was an outsider to the stately class but as you say, he also upheld their standards. He was a great critic of their excesses and pomposity but without wanting to destroy everything of that part of English culture.
    Chesterton and Belloc were like that also. Part of it was, as Catholics, they were excluded from the aristocracy but at the same time they admired the good qualities they found there.

  4. 4
    steveO says:

    I had a Catholic Christian Brother education.

    It turns out many years later a number of these Brothers were brought up on abuse charges.

    I often find myself hoping that in the rush for compensation no innocent teachers, especially including the ones I remember as being quite good, were falsely accused.

    Anyways, that’s another topic, but one very valuable thing I got from them was learning how to pray.

    They would sit us at our desks, arms folded and head on our arms and encourage awareness of our thought life and direct it towards prayer. This was very effective against our tendency towards constant busy activity, chatting and general messing about.

    It worries me that the generation coming through a secularized education do not even have this basic skill and simply cannot connect with religion and anything beyond materialism.

    I think this is reflected in the Journalists being referred to here. We very often see the fundamental disconnect/misunderstanding of people who live lives of faith. They cannot interpret it in any way other than through the ideology they’ve been exposed to during their education.

  5. 5
    Axel says:

    Absolutely Silver Fox. The public school types seem to be the last bastion of Christianity inn this country.

    During the post-war Golden Years of the welfare state, a modicum of economic justice prevailed – thanks to the prewar disgrace of fascism in this country and western world, and a curious survival of those good standards of which you speak, somehow prevailed, in the event, to act as a brake on the atheist degeneracy that overtook the Labour Party, straight after the devout Methodist lay preacher, Keir Hardie had retired, I believe.

    Ultimately, it has been a failure of the churches. The fact is all people of a relatively-high analytical intelligence, worldly intelligence, naturally tend to the right from economic self-interest.

    But, just as importantly, people from a quite modest economic background often seek political power, as a likely career ladder – often seeming , possibly even to themselves, sometimes, to be regular firebrands for social justice. Until they get a few rungs up the ladder, then green wellies and, maybe a farm or two, are the order of the day. And that was before the total imposture of Blair and NuLab(c).

    However, the most wicked and louche right-wingers, who had never gone away during the One Nation years, became backwoodsmen busily beavering away in the background, suborning the media and anything else they could. Just biding their time, knowing that they still held all the aces. I could curse the secret service, but for the thought of what would have happened if they had been unable to contribute to hobbling the atheist left via their ‘black arts’.

    Our close association with the endemically-fascistic US, certainly didn’t help. Though, of course, without them, we’d have been talking Russian since WWII. Not a happy thought, particularly under Stalin, although the victims of the mass homelessness Thatcher managed to reintroduce might have had cause to disagree.

    But, yes, where would we, today, be without the remaining vestiges of standards supplied by some of our toffs? In my younger days, the idea of being grateful to ‘old money’ would have sounded lunatic, but human affairs are not easy to understand.

  6. 6
    Axel says:

    Are you familiar with Hunter Thompson’s gentle putdown of television, Silver Fox? I should imagne it’s the journalists’ Eldorado.

    ‘The TV business is uglier than most things. It is normally perceived as some kind of cruel and shallow money trench through the heart of the journalism industry, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free and good men die like dogs, for no good reason.’

    Apparently, somebody thoughtfully added: ‘And then there’s the negative side…’

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