News Backgrounds for Homily Preparation #2
If you know enough about me, then you know I am a consumer of alternative news. I learned this many years ago when growing up in a media family. After I returned to the Church, I discovered a whole world of people that mainstream media does not know and through it discovered more of the alternative sources of news.
I think one of the signature moments I encountered was when I attended a talk by a group of five men and women of different backgrounds and faiths at the Redemptorist house in Berkeley, California who were fasting to end the arms race. They took their prayer and action in hand and acted on it. Whether it was successful or not is another discussion but no one in the mainstream media then or now would cover this.
Since they are alternative media, they usually do not last long. That is always the tragedy. So in the dust heap of media gold are such groups as The Monitor Channel and of course RT/America.
Three stars of that latter excellent television news channel were Jesse Ventura and his son Tyrel. Another is Tabetha Wallace. She and Tyrel hosted a program called Watching the Hawks. Now they are here on Substack which is a growing source of alternative and other news.
John Stewart criticized the news on CNN in 2004
Tyrel and Tabetha on their first show together on Substack talk about their former show on RT/America from behind the scenes of the news business and do an excellent job. They also talk about what they describe as a signature moment in television news. This is when Jon Stewart was guest on an old program on CNN called Crossfire. He apparently criticized the show regularly on his own program The Daily Show. In this clip, he castigated the hosts Paul Begala and Tucker Carlson for their turning a debate program into nothing more than theatre and he told them it was killing America.
The title of the clip Jon Stewart Ridicules Tucker Carlson on Crossfire is misleading. Again it seems to come from the point of view to hate Fox and love CNN, whereas if you truly understood the news, you would realize that they are all manipulating you. That is their job and it is Jon Stewart’s point.
This as Tyrel’s and Tabetha’s point show more and more how cable news and that is MSNBC, FOX and CNN, as well as other news, is all just theater and nothing more.
NonZero Robert Wright talks about a problem with the American media which he calls attribution bias. If you read the piece, which I obviously recommend, you will see what is a real problem in our media and has been for as long as I remember: The media teaches that everything the US does is good and everything our enemies do is bad. This kind of thinking led to a disillusionment which reversed for a certain former seminarian who later became a spy for the Soviets believing if that teaching is false then the opposite must be true: Everything the US does is bad and everything our enemies which at that time was the Soviet Union was good.
The fact is all governments being human institutions do things for various motivations and therefore do both good and bad. When our media only focuses on the good and assumes what we do is good, it gives a less than accurate picture of our own actions and the motives of those with whom we disagree.
Pope Francis warned that the Western world has a part in the cause of this war between Russia and Ukraine cause of NATO’s lining Russia’s border with nuclear missiles. You never see this argument in the American press. That too is an example of attribution bias. Hence again why the Catholic voice must be different and accurate.
This week we celebrated the Memorial of St. John Chrysostom who understood the power of the Gospel and called people to live it. He had little respect for bishops and priests who did not do their job.
As I was looking at just another way to help people come to Mass, I realized just how easily the people without faith are manipulated which means the people whose job it is to spread the faith and who did not are the foundation of that exact problem.
Nick James on Medium writes an excellent piece titled: We Have Been Thinking of Evil All Wrong on the nature of evil based on the observations of Hannah Arendt. Covering the Nuremburg trials Arendt discovered the face of evil in Adolph Eichmann was no different than any other ordinary face.
This week several of the predominant members of the Church including Bishop Athanasius Schneider auxiliary bishop of Khazakstan, Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas, Eric Sammons editor of Crisis Magazine and others wrote a letter of rebuttal to a paragraph in Pope Francis’ latest statement Desiderio Desideravi
The claim that the Pope is incorrect in one paragraph where he calls all people to the Eucharistic table understanding that all they need is the garment of faith. The letter by those who disagree emphasizes the need for repentance and sacramental confession and absolution prior to receiving.
I believe their letter reflects what I view is the battle line in the Church between those who agree with the pope and those who do not. It is the spirit of the law vs the letter of the law over and over again. The situation reflects this quite well.
Matthew Shadle at
Where Peter Is writes a great piece on the claims in the letter that the pope spoke heresy are unfounded. I draw on the situation for my homily over the weekend.
Until next week:
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