Dawn Eden

Friday Five: Centers of the religion news universe, plus Alexa orders toilet paper during sermon

Friday Five: Centers of the religion news universe, plus Alexa orders toilet paper during sermon

Rome. Nashville. St. Louis.

These are the centers of the religion news universe this week, involving America’s three largest Christian groups.

At Vatican City, Pope Francis has convened a four-day meeting on the Catholic Church’s ongoing sex abuse crisis. In Nashville, Tenn., Southern Baptists heard from the convention’s president, J.D. Greear, earlier this week concerning that denomination’s own sex abuse crisis.

Meanwhile, the United Methodist Church’s high-stakes, three-day meeting on LGBT issues opens Sunday in St. Louis. Are we talking about schism or a semi-schism?

Amid all that news, let’s dive into the Friday Five:

1. Religion story of the week: In a busy week, the ongoing Catholic clergy sexual abuse crisis dominated headlines and GetReligion commentary. Oh, and there’s another post linked to those Covington Catholic High School boys.

In case you missed them, here are some of our must-read posts:

How the mighty are fallen: Press should keep asking about 'Uncle Ted' McCarrick's secrets

Early Vatican tea leaves: Pope mentions 'pedophilia,' while a public memo includes some land mines

'Abuse of minors' – Rare chance to hear New York Times sing harmony with Vatican establishment

Beyond Thorn Birds (again): Vatican confirms there are rules for priests with secret children

What did press learn from Covington Catholic drama? Hint. This story wasn't about Donald Trump

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Friday Five: A reindeer's lament, Jessica Hahn, Democratic faith, Bob Dylan's Jesus and more

Friday Five: A reindeer's lament, Jessica Hahn, Democratic faith, Bob Dylan's Jesus and more

Welcome to the Merry Christmas edition of the Friday Five!

Enjoy the video with the holiday classic "Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer."

You may not be aware that there's a religion angle (isn't there always?) on the unfortunate tragedy with Grandma. According to veteran religion writer Bob Smietana, the reindeer wrote an apology. And Smietana penned a song about it. 

By all means, listen to the reindeer's lament.

Back to the "Five":

1. Religion story of the week: Charlotte Observer religion writer Tim Funk interviews Jessica Hahn, the woman at the center of disgraced televangelist Jim Bakker's fall 30 years ago. I commented on Funk's intriguing story in a GetReligion post earlier this week.

Bakker trivia and plug at the same time! Who can name the GetReligionista who took the original Charlotte newsroom anonymous call on this topic? It included this statement: "Just remember this name -- Jessica Hahn."

2. Most popular GetReligion post: My analysis titled "Trump + Gillibrand + faith: 'Why is religion only talked about when reporters profile Republicans?'" was our No. 1 post of the week. My thanks to Guthrie Graves-Fitzsimmons for asking the question that sparked the post and to former GetReligion contributor Mollie Hemingway (among others), who shared it on social media.

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Dr. Dawn Eden Goldstein has landed in her new theology gig -- in England

Dr. Dawn Eden Goldstein has landed in her new theology gig -- in England

At last, we have an official update on the status of former GetReligionista Dawn Eden -- by which we mean the former rock music journalist and headline writer superstar turned Catholic theologian Dawn Eden Goldstein.

The last time we checked in, Dawn had just received her doctorate in sacred theology -- magna cum laude -- from the University of St. Mary on the Lake (Mundelein Seminary). This caught the attention of The Chicago Tribune, since it was the first time in the university's history that a woman had earned a canonical (i.e. pontifically licensed) doctorate in theology.

We've known for some time now that Dr. Dawn had some kind of academic post pending, teaching in an official Catholic seminary, but couldn't talk about it since it was outside the United States and there were work-permit issues, etc.

Recently, Goldstein offered a long update, via her weblog. Here's the top

The Doctor is in ... England!
"I am currently awaiting confirmation of a job offer -- prayers, please!" Until now, that plea, posted on The Dawn Patrol last April, was the last bit of news I shared on my blog concerning my plans upon becoming the first woman to receive a canonical doctorate in sacred theology from the University of St. Mary of the Lake.
Today it is my joy to write of answered prayers. Since October, I have been a resident lecturer in theology at St. Mary's College, Oscott, which is the seminary of the Archdiocese of Birmingham, England. It is the largest seminary in the English-speaking world outside the United States (not counting the U.S.-operated North American College in Rome).

Although Oscott has long had women on staff and recently awarded the title of Professor to Church History lecturer and Director of Studies Dr. Judith Champ, my hiring marks the first time that the seminary has ever had a female theologian in residence.

Who is she teaching? That's a really interesting wrinkle in this story:

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Apologizing to gays: Pope Francis' latest quotes send news media into a frenzy

Apologizing to gays: Pope Francis' latest quotes send news media into a frenzy

So you thought Pope Francis began a storm of news 'n' views three years ago, when he said, "Who am I to judge" gays? Well, brace yourself for the summertime blizzard of news and commentary with his latest remark -- that the church should apologize to gays, women, children, the poor and, apparently, anyone who likes weapons.

It was on another of those in-flight press conferences, like the one in 2013 when he dropped his non-judgmental bomb. Mainstream media love to pounce on Francis' off-the-cuff remarks, but few of them recognize the conversations flowing just under the surface -- even when they occasionally break into the open.

Yesterday, Cindy Wooden of Catholic News Service asked Francis if the church should apologize to gays in the wake of Omar Mateen's shooting spree, killing 49 people in a gay nightclub in Orlando. She was asking because Cardinal Reinhard Marx had said the church had marginalized gays.

The pope answered with, well, an apology spree. Says the Associated Press:

Francis responded with a variation of his famous "Who am I to judge?" comment and a repetition of church teaching that gays must not be discriminated against but treated with respect.
He said some politicized behaviors of the homosexual community can be condemned for being "a bit offensive for others." But he said: "Someone who has this condition, who has good will and is searching for God, who are we to judge?"
"We must accompany them," Francis said.
"I think the church must not only apologize ... to a gay person it offended, but we must apologize to the poor, to women who have been exploited, to children forced into labor, apologize for having blessed so many weapons" and for having failed to accompany families who faced divorces or experienced other problems.

Does this signal the dawn of a "progressive" era in the church? Not according to a particular Dawn -- Catholic scholar and GR alumna Dawn Eden:

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Will Dr. Dawn Eden Goldstein touch a third rail in Catholic doctrine? Of course not ...

Will Dr. Dawn Eden Goldstein touch a third rail in Catholic doctrine? Of course not ...

First things first, to update our recent former-GetReligionista watch post, congratulations to Dr. Dawn Eden Goldstein today as she receives her doctorate in sacred theology -- magna cum laude -- from the University of St. Mary on the Lake (Mundelein Seminary).

And congratulations, as well, on that A1 Chicago Tribune story that managed to cover quite a bit of Dawn's complex and fascinating life -- from rock-beat journalist to teaching seminarians -- up to this rather historic moment in Catholic higher education.

The story, for example, mentioned that her faculty appointment -- which still has not been announced -- will be overseas. Interesting. Does Dawn speak Italian?

As you would expect, there are some interesting editorial nuances in a mainstream news report about a person as complicated as Dawn. For example, even though (a) her journey into this work began in the Pope Benedict XVI era and (b) women have been appointed to interesting leadership posts (for several decades, actually) in conservative as well as progressive dioceses, the hook for this story (it's a news-media law) must be linked somehow to the current occupant of the chair of St. Peter.

She is earning the degree, issued by the authority of Pope Francis, at the same time Francis is pushing to raise the profile of women in the Catholic Church, most recently in his 260-page apostolic exhortation "Amoris Laetitia," in which he praised some aspects of women's liberation, though he did not go so far as to say women should be priests.
Goldstein is not calling for women's ordination. She's not condemning celibacy, and she voluntarily took a vow herself. She's simply pursuing an education to shape the church's ministers of tomorrow and mentor women who feel called to serve the church.

Of course, there is a reason this pope didn't "go so far" as to support female priests. There is, after all this document from St. Pope John Paul II called "Ordinatio sacerdotalis" in which he ruled that church teachings on this subject are "definitive," and part of the church's ancient "deposit of faith."

As is customary in most news coverage of Catholicism, the story -- over and over -- discusses contemporary issues in language that hints that they are (a) personal opinion, (b) political or (c) both.

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Let punny headlines reign: Thumbs up as Dawn Eden completes doctorate in theology

Let punny headlines reign: Thumbs up as Dawn Eden completes doctorate in theology

Over the years, this here weblog has seen one or two skilled journalists hit the exit door in order to go to law school. Now, former GetReligionista Dawn Eden taken this whole post-journalism academic thing to a new level by completing a doctorate in theology.

Yes, what a long, strange trip it's been.

That popular music reference is intentional, since Dawn started out in journalism as a rock-music beat reporter before evolving into an award-winning creator of punchy headlines, at The New York Post and then the Daily News. You may want to surf this file of commentary about the writing of her famous "The Lady is a Trump" headline about one of the weddings of a certain public figure who is still in the news. Dawn offered her own very modest take on that episode in her GetReligion intro piece, called "The inky-fingered Dawn."

Now, Dawn has evolved once again, from her life as a popular Catholic apologist into an academic who has just complete a truly historic degree in theology. Here is a key chunk of a post up at The Dawn Patrol, her personal website.

The Doctoral Board ... gave me an A on both my dissertation and my presentation. Now I am set to graduate with my sacred-theology doctorate from the University of St. Mary of the Lake (Mundelein Seminary) on May 7, magna cum laude. It will be the first time in the university's history that a canonical (i.e. pontifically licensed) doctorate will be awarded to a woman.

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Aborted baby parts for sale: Did journalists drag their feet on Planned Parenthood story?

Aborted baby parts for sale: Did journalists drag their feet on Planned Parenthood story?

By now, you've seen THE VIDEO.

It's been the talk of social media, particularly among pro-life advocates, for a full day now.

Given the subject matter, it's no surprise that GetReligionista emeritus Mollie Hemingway — now a senior editor with The Federalist — has been all over the issue.

Six hours after the video began making waves, Mollie wrote at The Federalist:

This is a story that requires thoughtful and substantive coverage. That the media are beginning by ignoring it is not a good sign that they have learned a single lesson from crapping the bed with their coverage of the monstrous abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell.

But can "thoughtful and substantive coverage" be produced immediately? While understanding Mollie's frustration, I sympathize, too, with the perspective of another former GetReligionista: Washington Post religion writer Sarah Pulliam Bailey.

On Twitter, Sarah made the case that, hey, real reporting takes a little time:

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The inky-fingered Dawn

The inky-fingered Dawn

It is a joy and an honor to join GetReligion, as this site has done much to shape my understanding of the dynamics involved in news coverage of religious issues.

I am a very traditional religious believer with a decidedly unorthodox background. I am also a journalist. Put that together and some people think I'm controversial, especially those with long memories who remember when, as a new Christian convert, I was outspoken on issues relating to sexual morality and abortion. Nearly 10 years ago, that outspokenness -- along with an error of misplaced zeal -- lost me a newspaper job, as I'll relate here momentarily.

But here is the bottom line: having put in years in New York City newsrooms, not to mention decades as a rock music historian, I know the value of a free press, and I want to see mainstream journalists produce accurate, fair, balanced reporting on faith issues. That's why I am here at GetReligion.

New York City is in fact my birthplace (technically: Mom was rushed from New Rochelle to a Brooklyn hospital) and raised Reform Jewish -- sort of. Although I was a bat mitzvah, I was also exposed to various New Age practices after my parents' divorce, as my mother explored the Seventies religion smorgasbord.

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Same as it ever was: It's time for a new, old GetReligion

Same as it ever was: It's time for a new, old GetReligion

You know that whole Christmas in July thing, when stores and other groups have fun by, well, pretending that it's Christmas, only in the month of July?

That is kind of what is going on here today. Kind of.

The big news is that GetReligion.org is going back to being GetReligion.org -- period. This website has, over the past decade or so, gone through three basic transformations in its platform and layout and now we are headed into No. 4.

We are returning to our status as an independent website that wrestles with issues of religion-beat coverage in the mainstream press, linked to The Media Project and, in a process that will evolve over the next year, to my future classroom work with The King's College in New York City. The key institution at that prime lower-downtown location is the college's new John McCandlish Phillips Institute, which is led by a New York City journalist named Paul Glader, who is justifiably well-known for his years of hard-news work with The Wall Street Journal. If you are not familiar with the byline of the late and very great New York Times reporter John McCandlish Phillips, please click here and then here.

The key to this fourth GetReligion move is that we are, first and foremost, a journalism website -- as opposed to being a site that fosters dialogues and debates (valid ones, at times) about religion and religious issues. As such, our turf is rather different than the many excellent blogs that have flourished here in the digital universe called Patheos. We think it is time to link up with projects, old and new, dedicated to journalism education.

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