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Let's Hear Praise for IRS Workers
Washington Post Unfairly Characterizes President's Prayer Breakfast Speech
Understanding Glenn Beck and the End of His Fox News Program
Bob Herbert: The United States Has Lost Its Way
For God or for Fame? The Making of a Teenage Bomber
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Fired Reporters Challenge Fox TV License
Corporate Media and the Political Use of Religion
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The President as Draft Dodger
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The Political Misuse of Christianity
Imagination and Resiliency in a Time of Despair
Christmas Peace and Conflict
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The Prosperity Gospel of Paul Crouch and TBN
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Bush Meets with Religion Writers, Wants to Change the Culture
America's Progressive Majority
Stupid White Movie: What Michael Moore Misses About the Empire
A Bloodthirsty God in The Passion of The Christ
A Gospel of Love and Hope: How to Respond to Mel Gibson's "Passion"
Act Now Against CBS Refusal to Air MoveOn Superbowl Ad
Media Issues in the 2004 Presidential Election Year
Clear Channel Gags an Antiwar Conservative
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Fascism in the Savage Nation
Sam Smith's Daily News Summary
Inside Fox News: Not so Fair and Balanced
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NCC Commission Opposes Media Concentration
Move Over, Right Wing Radio - the Liberals Are Coming
Creative Writing in the Midst of War
Channels of Influence
Cheerleaders for War
More Media Concentration Proposed
About Molly Ivins
Apocalypse Now: Tim LaHaye Captures the Press Again
The Mode of Information: Poststructuralism and Social Context
Creating the Public Context for Preaching
The Failure of Presidential Politics
In this section we focus on the media and how pastors and congregations can become more effective in functioning in relation to the "public consciousness" created by the media. We also want to be of help to media professionals who are wondering about how best to cover issues having to do with faith and religion.
When people walk into church to hear a sermon their minds are already significantly influenced by what they have been seeing on television or listening to on the radio or reading in newspapers and magazines. How words are used in the public media determines how they will be heard by listeners to a sermon. So it is best to be very lucid about how words are being used in public discourse. But reading, or tracking, the actual meanings through the media is not always so easy. We will be trying to do so in various ways here.
The domination of the media over public space and consciousness is demonstrated in the image at the top right. It is a view from above Shinjuku storefronts and traffic at dusk in Tokyo. (The image is available at FotoSearch.)
The role of the media in society has become more and more important in the modern world. The Enlightenment belief in and constitutional implementation of freedom of the press has now generated a massive institutional framework of media corporations in which media professionals work. Never before in history have so few had so much power over the minds of so many.
The idea of "freedom of the press" has now become a means more to justify this great power of media institutions more than belief in an independent role for writers. The press has been so captured by economic motives that it is difficult to find real, authentic "independent" media resources.
Within this context, it has become especially important for the people of faith to intentionally think about the media and how it influences the public context in which we live and work. The media powerfully influence the internal public consciousness of individual persons, the subjectivity of the self, the very persons to whom pastors must try to preach the gospel each Sunday. It is vitally important to discern the spirits which enter the minds and hearts of people in congregations through the media.
This is especially true in the case of the various right wing radio and television commentators. Listen carefully to these commentators; you will hear them attack the weakest members of society as the source of the problems in the country. You will hear them glorify strength and military might. You will hear them justify the power of the wealthy over democratic processes. You will even hear many of them claim that they are god-fearing Christians who are promoting what God wants for the United States. It is important for religious leaders to explicitly encourage their people not to listen to such commentators or take them seriously. They are primarily entertainers trying to gain an audience by making outrageous statements.
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