Back when I started this little site I was attempting to launch my career in journalism, instead of the priesthood. I was pursuing two potential avenues, Catholic press, or secular press coverage of religion. While obviously in the end, God had other plans, my love of journalism and writing has never died.
The Press and the Catholic Church
For many years while I was in seminary I always talked about and envisioned reusing this space to share come comments regarding the intersection of journalism and Catholicism. Instead, as the tides have turned, I’ve mostly continued to use it as a portfolio kind of site, linking to my various content around the web, reflections, media appearances etc..
One of the web sites that I have always admired from afar when it comes to promoting religious literacy is GetReligion. As a Catholic theologian, specifically of fundamental theology, yes, I may at times disagree with particular nuances or points in their coverage. However, on the whole I find their work to be fair, thorough and balanced.
Furthermore, outside of the journalism bubble and deep, or even not so deep, within Catholic confines, it can be quite popular to bash, “the media,” “the press,” or “journalists.” Claims of Anti-Catholicism and an antagonist lack of trust can be strong at times.
Certainly at times there are instances where I read a secular article about the Church, that as a priest, theologian, and former journalist, make me want to throw my laptop through the wall. However, on the whole I attribute such mistakes what is known as religious illiteracy. I’m not saying there aren’t cases of Anti-Catholic bias, I am saying that religious illiteracy amongst journalists, and society as a whole is the far more prevalent problem. It’s also not a problem exclusive to Catholicism.
With all that being said, I’d like to start attempting to realize that vision I had of how to use my love of journalism and the Church. The other day I was talking with friends about it at lunch and realized that I had no excuse as to why I’ve waited nearly three years since leaving seminary.
Instead of contributing to the laments and critiques, cultivating a culture of division and pessimism, I’d prefer to take a more positive approach. There are plenty of other spaces for one to satisfy their cravings for that kind of material. Instead, I’d like to focus on some of the times when secular press does a particularly good job. To give praise when and where praise is due. Not to say to that all of the pieces featured are perfect, but to provide compliments when they are well-earned. Hence the title, “Praising the Press.” For now I make no commitments as to how frequently or infrequently such posts might appear, it’s just another project I’d like to try.
With that being said let’s look at the first entry from the Jefferson City News Tribune:
One of the things that I like about this piece is the manner in which it combines the historical context, the teaching of the Church (i.e. what is the diaconate?), and various local individuals involved. Furthermore, the writer appeals to both figures of authority, the bishop, as well as the human interest side of those who are living the reality of the diaconate. All together this provides a thorough background and foundation of some aspect of the Church (the diaconate), along with a contemporary, personal, and local connection. The depth of the explanations are a good example of the opposite of religious illiteracy, but instead, actual religious literacy and comprehension. Lastly, the author addresses some of the concerns going forward into the future as well in a fair and realistic manner.
Again, the point of these pieces will be to briefly highlight good work. There is already enough negative noise on the internet. If you see any other good stories about the Catholic Church in secular religion journalism, please send them my way.