No factual errors, but still so wrong

Anyone who has read any of my infrequent posts probably knows my background: a long-time journalist and a committed Christian of the Presbyterian persuasion.

Yes, those two things can and do exist in the same human — in fact in many humans, but it is also true that many in both camps neither understand the other nor know much about what makes the other tick. Accordingly, I take it as a personal responsibility to help bridge that gap.

Yes, I tell my journalist friends, not all Christians line up behind Pat Robertson, Westboro Baptist Church/Fred Phelps and the like. (Even if they are from South Carolina, as I happen to be.)

Yes, I tell my Christian friends, not all journalists are antagonistic and/or ignorant about faith.

But in my current hometown, the second one of those statements just got harder.

The local newspaper carried a front-page story this week about Easter. I should have realized from the lead how bad it was going to be:

Break out the Easter eggs and the candy. This is Holy Week, a time for Christians to mark the final days of Lent and the days leading up to Easter.

Ouch. Easter eggs and candy? That’s the most significant thing about Easter?! Really!?

And then there was the next sentence:

Easter is traditionally celebrated on the Sunday after the first full moon of spring, Tree of Life Rabbi Joe Hample said, when asked about the relation between Passover and Easter.

Really? You’re quoting a Jewish rabbi on when Easter is celebrated? Easter, which Judaism does not acknowledge? (Forget how badly constructed the sentence was.)

There’s just so much wrong with this story. Such as this: 

Jesus is said to have saved the Christian people by sacrificing himself so God would forgive their sins.

No, Jesus is not “said to have saved the Christian people.” Jesus saves everyone. (Let’s not get into a debate here about universalism, or blood atonement or the rest of all that. Let’s just all acknowledge that all people can receive eternal life. We’ll leave the arguments about who, how etc. for another place and time.)

And the only Christian person quoted is a Catholic priest. No matter that even in this small city there is everything from fire-and-brimstone-hellfire-and-damnation to Unitarian-Unilateralist congregations, from non-denominational mega-churches to Orthodox to traditional, mainline Protestant congregations.

It is almost as if some editor looked at the calendar and said, “Hey, you, kid reporter, we need some kind of Easter story. Go write one.”

And then when it was done, the editor didn’t care what was written. “Easter story done. Check.”

One of the things I’ve tried over the years to get across to many folks, journalist and non-journalist alike, is that it’s not the big mistakes that have undermined the public’s confidence in media. It’s the little ones.

And while there aren’t really any errors of fact in this story, it displays such a complete lack of basic knowledge of — or even respect for — the subject matter that, taken as a whole, the story is a mistake from the first word to the last.

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  • #Presbyterian #faith #journalism #Christianity
  • 4 days ago
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Education is a wonderful thing!

A car at our condo complex had this license plate: C72UPOPS.

I’ve tried and tried to figure it out to no avail. So I finally asked the car’s owner, “What does your license plate mean?”

It seems he’s a med student from a family of doctors. He tells me the C7 vertebrae has a nerve connected to the middle finger.

I’m already chuckling when he says his father’s license plate says “C72U.”

Yes, education is a wonderful thing.

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  • 1 week ago

Just an elder/deacon? That’s a triple not-so-fast!

(The following is the Keynote Address delivered to “Officers as Spiritual Leaders,” a training event sponsored by the Presbytery of Homestead at Southern Heights Presbyterian Church, Lincoln NE; Jan. 11, 2014.)

Good morning and greetings to you from the P…

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  • 3 months ago

Day 2: What will the day of judgment be? For whom?

Well, this is an easy one. (Where’s that sarcasm font when you need it?)

This question essentially is at the core of belief, isn’t it? I know what The Larger Catechism says in today’s assigned reading:

Q. 89. What shall be done to the wicked at the day of…

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  • #grace #Judgment
  • 3 months ago

A new discipline for 2014

Well it’s the time when almost everyone is making New Year’s resolutions and starting new things. For me, I am going to try — emphasis on try — to adopt a new discipline of following the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s Company of Pastorsregimin. In…

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  • #Company of Pastors #faith #Resurrection
  • 3 months ago
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It’s been a week since I posted about the current state of The Associated Press and…

It’s been a week since I posted about the current state of The Associated Press and some of the reasons it is in the shape it’s in. (Here’s a link to the original on Medium.) And, given the world we’re in today, I also posted it on my blog, which meant it…

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  • #AP #Associated Press #business model #journalism #media #news
  • 8 months ago
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  • #Ford Lewis Battles #inclusive language #Institutes of the Christian Relition #John Calvin #mr. diety #prayer #The Lord&039;s Prayer #West Virginia University #WVU
  • 8 months ago

The AP headed to mediocrity: the difference between “the” and “a.:

I spent 23 years working for The Associated Press, first as a reporter in Atlanta, then as a business writer, news editor and assistant chief of bureau in Dallas, before being named chief of bureau in Charleston, WV, in November, 1997. I was proud to be…

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  • 8 months ago

Why different voices are needed

Just finished a week spent with several colleagues talking to a bunch of folks.

The lesson I relearned is the importance of having diverse viewpoints and backgrounds at the table.

Not exactly a revolutionary concept, I admit, but it’s good to be reminded every now and then.

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  • #diversity
  • 9 months ago
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I need to remember this

I was recently speaking to a member of the church I attend who has not attended worship there for several years. He left along with many others several years ago over an issue that severely split the congregation.

Although he has attended other churches in town regularly, he remains a member here, and maintains what, for lack of a better phrase, I’ll call a third-party connection with this congregation.

The church he attends most every Sunday now is a large, non-denominational church in town. I took the opportunity to quiz him on why he’s attending this particular church.

I said I know several folks who go to that church and who, I know for a fact, think very differently than what is my impression  that particular church espouses. As with many (most?) large non-denominational churches, it seems very conservative, and yet I know people who attend there who are not.

"I don’t understand," I said, "how some of the folks I know can go to a church with that kind of theology."

His response? “I don’t care about theology. I just want to go somewhere I can worship.”

For someone like me, to whom theology is very important, this comment was like a slap in the face.

The thing is, I don’t doubt he is not alone. (I also think that he probably really does care about theology — if he only knew it, or how to express it.)

This in many ways sums up one of the basic challenges facing mainline denominations as they cope with churches which have opted for a more “entertaining” worship style instead of a more cerebral one.

We, and by “we” I mean mainline Protestantism, have done an extremely poor job of adapting, while maintaining our history and integrity.

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  • #religion #theology #faith #worship
  • 9 months ago
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