Friday, January 28, 2011

Media and the March

I want to talk about an event that consistently makes an impact on both the Christian and secular world: the March for Life held annually in Washington, D.C. But this time, you won't hear me talking about the Church's stance on abortion.

My issue this time is with my colleagues in the media.

First, some background: after the resolution of Roe vs. Wade and its companion case, Doe v. Bolton in 1973, the right to terminate a pregnancy on demand was declared a constitutional right for all.

One year later, anti-abortion advocates gathered at the Supreme Court to protest the decision and demand its reversal. They have done so every year since with increasing numbers, diversity and passion.

The 38th annual March for Life was held this past Monday, with an estimated 400,000 people, 50 members of the House of Representatives and one senator in attendance.

That's almost half a million people.

But ironically, you would never notice this by turning on the evening news or opening up the paper in the following days.

In fact, the media has been consistently notorious for avoiding any mention of the March, and when it is covered, the information presented is usually misrepresented and biased.

Let me say clearly that I'm not speaking as a Catholic as I write this. I'm speaking as a journalist who is confused by the almost universal error in judgment.

To show you what I mean, here is a traditional list of the eight elements of newsworthiness that have been drilled into my head since I was 18. Since then, I've done tons of exercises in the classroom to root out these elements in current events.

There is plenty of conflict in this story, one that has remained close to the top of political debates for decades now. And it was obviously timely with the anniversary of such a landmark set of cases.

The sheer number of people and delegates rallying at the Capitol and in smaller gatherings nationwide (like the Walk for Life West Coast in California) fulfills consequence and prominence -- it's hard to get half a million people to do much of anything, let alone gather for one cause.

Abortion is an issue that stirs the emotions of people on both sides of the debate, and affects every single person who has a child. That's something that appeals to human interest.

We can also say it's a good variety story because of the diversity of the people present. Christians from many denominations that typically argue over doctrine came together to pray. Feminists, men, old people, tens of thousands of youth of every race were all present. A friend who was there told me that he even saw a sign that read "Atheist Anarchists for Life."

So...that's six out of eight. Where was the coverage? Aside from Catholic broadcasting outlets like EWTN, it's anybody's guess. Do a Google search. Where are the prominent news names we expect to see?

Why are we letting our audience down?

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Great Divide

ETA: Fixed a broken link. 25 Jan. 2011

This week has been set aside in churches across denominational lines as the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

It's almost funny, though, that these days we're about as divided as it gets. Our chaplain made an excellent point tonight that the rest of the world looks to everyone who proclaims Christ as their example of what Christianity is ... and all we do is bicker, nitpick, and judge.

It's no wonder that so many dismiss us as irrelevant. We're all so caught up in our own drama that we barely notice how badly we're ruining our reputations.

The Church universal, it seems, is as broken today as the world we're trying to save.

As one very timely example, look at this list of common American denominations and their positions on human life. The number that believes it is okay to end a God-given life in the womb is mind boggling. As if that's not enough, we can't even agree on the simple basics of our faith, like the nature of the Atonement.

I can't figure it out.

That's not to say that the Church in Rome is any better -- look at our Mass attendance down to a quarter of the faithful in this country, those that don't know what the Eucharist is, those that support all kinds of insanity in the liturgy, and still others on the conservative end that believe the Ordinary Form (post-Vatican II Mass) is dysfunctional at best and abominable at worst.

There has been no better time than for a movement like this. I know what a lot of people say, but if we hope to move forward and piece together these shards, we need to work together, and we need to pray together.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Taking Stock of Everything

Hi. It's been a while for me. Sorry about that -- I was blessed with kidney stones right after the new year, and once that was resolved, there was a freelance assignment due. My editor was kind enough to suspend my deadline while the agony subsided. I'm fine now, thankfully, and am ready to get back in business here.

This week has been more difficult than I could have ever anticipated. On Monday we got the news that a friend I graduated with made the decision to end his life. He had a brilliant mind and a great heart, and while we weren't especially close, we shared best friends. Seeing three of them lined up in a pew last night at the viewing, all of them broken in grief, moved me to tears of my own.

I learned something very important in that moment. As Christians, our worldview is completely focused on joy. We are forward-thinkers. Many of the people at this viewing were atheists lost in complete despair because there was nothing after the death of our friend to hope for.

This mindset of hope has been so crucial to me this week. There have been more than one family crisis, and by the time I got home from having drinks with my friends, I felt crushed under the weight of it all.

I offered up a tired prayer this morning that I would find solace in the confessional. That was answered.

And afterward, a bigger reach: "Lord, I need to be reminded in a very big way that sticking with You is still worth it."

The readings today were all about strength. And our pastor's homily was surprisingly candid, about our first interaction with others being about acceptance as the person is, not doctrine and judgment. That Christianity at its core is a relationship with Christ, and that's the message we should be sending. Hope and love.

Without getting into details, it hit home. I felt like God was reminding me where my priorities belong. I cast my cares on Him and left happy.

This week, more than ever, I know how to be grateful.

Saturday, January 1, 2011


Hello, 2011!!!!