The Media as Liturgy

A recent Spirit in the City day conference at the Queensland University of Technology featured the editor of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's Religion and Ethics portal, Scott Stephens. 

In a highly informative segment on faith and journalism, Stephens mentioned how the omnipresent rush to get news content out and the imperative to generate as many opinions as possible has woefully undermined the ability to actually be informed about anything. Substantial thought, reflection and analysis has given way to a tsunami of manufactured opinion or trivia, perpetuated even further in the age of social media.

In the face of the ability for the quick, the manufactured and the trivial to obscure the good, true and beautiful, Stephens suggested approaching the media as a kind of liturgy, where the rubrics of the liturgy can be brought to bear on the news cycle. In refusing to abide by Modernity's reference of time (which is explored in greater detail in a recent article in the Journal of Moral Theology), the liturgy forms the basis of a new time frame by which to approach the news. Instead of instant opinion and response, the liturgy calls for periods of fasting and active waiting, creating spaces of silence in between utterances.

As Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, quoted in a previous post, suggested, it is in silence where thought gains depth and sophistication, and in silence where words can go from damning us to ignorance to redeeming us with the wisdom that comes from God.  

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