Lutheran Public Radio

No new podcast: But here's a flashback to tmatt reading fake-news riot act to Missouri Synod Lutherans

No new podcast: But here's a flashback to tmatt reading fake-news riot act to Missouri Synod Lutherans

We didn't record a "Crossroads" podcast this week for a simple reason. It appears that our colleagues at Lutheran Public Radio -- along with millions of other people in Western Church traditions -- were under the impression that this past week was Holy Week.

Thus, that would make today Easter. Dang modernists.

I jest, of course.

However, the Issues, Etc., folks did put a recording online that some GetReligion readers might enjoy hearing. It's a talk that I did this past summer at a national conference in Collinsville, Ill., which is just outside of St. Louis.

The assigned topic was "fake news," but I turned that around and talked about the forces that created today's toxic media culture, in which most Americans consume advocacy news products that are crafted to support the beliefs that they already have.

At the beginning of the talk I offered the following thesis statement, which I scribbled on a church bulletin seconds before I got up to talk, using a brand new speech outline (which is always a bit nerve wracking). Here is that thesis statement:

American public discourse is broken.
Right now, most American citizens are being totally hypocritical about the news.

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A floating podcast: Are evangelicals more confused than usual, these days? #REALLY

A floating podcast: Are evangelicals more confused than usual, these days? #REALLY

This week's "Crossroads" podcast is a bit different, for several reasons.

In the headline, I called this a "floating" podcast because, well, I phoned into the Lutheran Public Radio studio from a cruise boat in the Bahamas (the final stage of some wonderful 40th wedding anniversary celebrations). So I was "floating," at the time. Also, the podcast isn't going to be posted on the GetReligion website right away because our tech person is (continuing the wedding theme) on his honeymoon. So click here to access the Issues, Etc., version of this show.

Now, to the topic. Host Todd Wilken asked me to take a look at an NPR essay that ran with this headline: "2017 Has Been A Rough Year For Evangelicals."

Yes, we are talking about yet ANOTHER elite-media look into the identity crisis among many evangelical leaders in the era of Donald Trump. But before we get into the heart of that essay, check out the lede:

As 2017 ends, evangelical Christians in the United States are suffering one of their periodic identity crises. Unlike other religious groups, the evangelical movement comprises a variety of perspectives and tendencies and is therefore especially prone to splintering and disagreement.

Yes, the first half of that is basically fine -- since anyone with any exposure to the American brand of evangelicalism knows that debates about doctrine and identity have been common through the decades. But what's going on with the statement that evangelical churches and institutions contain a "variety of perspectives and tendencies" and, thus, are somehow uniquely prone to divisions, debates and disagreements?

I laughed out loud the first time I read that.

So American Catholicism is a fortress of cultural conformity? Ditto for Lutherans and Anglicans?

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This week's sort-of podcast: Catching up with a GetReligion broadcast Down Under

This week's sort-of podcast: Catching up with a GetReligion broadcast Down Under

This is about the time of the week when I ask GetReligion readers to switch mediums for a few minutes and tune in our latest Crossroads podcast (also available through iTunes).

However, there won't be a GetReligion podcast this week because Todd Wilken and our friends at Lutheran Public Radio are on the road. They over in German doing work linked to some anniversary in the life of that Martin Luther fellow. It sounds like a pretty big deal (although I haven't heard much about it at my Eastern Orthodox parish).

So, with this gap in the podcast schedule, allow me to flash back to a mid-summer interview that I did with the "Open House" program that is based in Sydney, Australia. I have been meaning to post this for some time, but it took a while for this material to make it to that organization's website.

However, click here to tune that in. The intro material posted by host Stephen O'Doherty looks like this:

Does the media give us an objective view on all issues? Is objectivity, once the hallmark of respected journalism, giving way to a zeitgeist or cultural norm in which moral issues are deemed to be settled and faith-based perspectives either ignored or ridiculed?
US Journalism Professor Terry Mattingly is deeply concerned that American media has reached a point where people turn only to news sources that confirm their own bias. He urges Christians and other faiths to speak up for conservative social and moral views.

From my perspective, that final sentence is just a bit off. The main thing I did was urge listeners to retain a bit of idealism and continue to interact with local, regional and even national media professionals -- praising the good and criticizing the bad.

But the heart of the interview focused on what happens to public discourse when news consumers focus 99.9 percent of their media lives on advocacy outlets that only tell them what they want to hear.

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