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Deja vu all over again: BBC does another fun cathedrals story that skips somber facts (again)

Deja vu all over again: BBC does another fun cathedrals story that skips somber facts (again)

So here is the journalism question for today: Is the implosion of the Church of England, especially in terms of worship attendance, so common knowledge that it doesn’t even need to be mentioned in a news story linked to this topic?

It was news when attendance slid under 1 million, earlier this decade. Then the numbers kept falling. Here’s a Guardian report from a year or so ago. The big statistic reported in 2018 was that Sunday attendance was down to “722,000 — 18,000 fewer than in 2016.”

The story I want to look at did not run on a small website or in a niche-market newspaper. It was produced by the BBC, one of the top two or three most important news organizations on the planet.

Maybe this subject is too bleak to be mentioned in what is clearly meant to be a fun story? Here’s the headline on this long feature: “Why are cathedrals hosting helter-skelters and golf courses?” And the overture:

From giant models of Earth and the Moon to a helter-skelter and crazy golf course, cathedrals are increasingly playing host to large artworks and attractions. Why are buildings built for worship being used in the pursuit of fun?

Cathedrals might traditionally be viewed as hallowed places meant for sombre reflection and hushed reverence.

Vast, vaulted ceilings soar high over whispering huddles of wide-eyed tourists as robed wardens patrol the pews to silence anything that could detract from the sanctity of worship.

But cathedral chiefs across the country have been keen to shake free from the shushing stereotype.

Let’s see. There is a glimpse of the “why?” in this story. Why are these Anglican leaders so intent on opening the doors to let people have some fun of this kind?

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Tiger Woods and another media-driven quest for generic public and personal redemption

Tiger Woods and another media-driven quest for generic public and personal redemption

Please pause, for a moment, from reading the torrent of tweets in your news "covfefe" feed. I would like you to flash back to one of the more interesting -- poignant even -- angles of the first great Tiger Woods private life crisis (1.0).

Forget the endless tabloid covers about his apparent addictions to adultery with busty blondes (we are not talking about the stunningly beautiful mother of his children). Forget the double-talk on covertly recorded cellphones.

This is GetReligion. We are talking about a fascinating and valid religion angle, one linked to Wood's unique multi-racial and multicultural background. Here is a glimpse of that, care of a 2010 Tiger crisis feature in The Christian Science Monitor. The overture said:

LONDON -- Much has been made of the fact that, in his mea culpa beamed around the world, Tiger Woods said he had rediscovered his childhood religion of Buddhism and hoped to relearn its lessons of restraint. This was Tiger’s “leap of faith,” said Newsweek, his very public religious conversion.
It is true that we witnessed the conversion of Tiger Woods last Friday, but it was no voluntary conversion to an old religion. Rather, this was a forced conversion to the new Oprahite religion of emotional openness and making public one’s miseries and failings.

Note that, even with Woods make explicit comments about how he drifted away from the practice of Buddhism, journalists already were picking up on the fact that something else was going on. In terms of a public-relations campaign to "redeem" -- "resurrect" was another popular word) his career -- it was clear that Woods needed to perform some kind of pop-culture penance to show he was starting over.

It was a rare appearance of a kind of Oprah-fied born-again Buddhism. The stories never probed the depths of what that might look like in terms of daily life.

Now we have Tiger Woods crisis 2.0, with that horrible DUI mug shot and, I am sure, embarrassing video clips to come.

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Sunday morning in Palm Beach: What happens when, and where, for Citizen Donald Trump?

Sunday morning in Palm Beach: What happens when, and where, for Citizen Donald Trump?

A decade or so ago, I lived in West Palm Beach, Fla., and taught at a campus on the other side of the Intercoastal Waterway from the famous, and infamous, world that is Palm Beach.

Now, the people who live in this enclave of big money tend to talk and, no surprise, one of things they love to talk about is people with money and how those people spend their money. A central question is whether the person being discussed is "old (inherited) money" or "new money."

The key: Those "new money" people (think Rush Limbaugh) have to graciously earn respect from the many Palm Beachers with old money, don't you know.

During the years I was there, I heard local folks say one thing over and over about Donald Trump, whose profile on both sides of the Intercoastal was, well, YYHHUUGGEE. Trump, folks agreed, was the ultimate example of "old money" who kept acting like "new money." This was not a compliment.

I pass along this observation because of that New York Times feature that ran the other day describing the life of the billionaire GOP front-runner through the eyes of a man who would certainly know the fine details -- the man who for decades served as the butler at Citizen Trump's Mar-a-lago estate in Palm Beach.

Anthony Senecal, now semi-retired, has to know the details of Trump's life, tastes and habits inside out. In light of the obsessive news coverage of Trump's life and beliefs during this campaign, what question would any reporter be SURE to ask if granted an interview with this butler?

Let's see if we can spot the God-shaped hole here. But first, the overture:

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How should journalists fight back against sacred jargon?

Yesterday, CNN ran a feature highlighting the faith of members of a Bible group the meets on the PGA Tour. The article itself is well-done and provides an superb model for how to address religion in sports.

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