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Frontline on the Papacy, and the questionable reliability of media

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

[ by Charles Cameron -- noting once again that spin is slant and slant is spin ]

Last night, Frontline hosted a documentary on Popes Francis and Benedict, and the troubled Church the former inherited from the latter. Not unexpectedly, the child abuse scandal featured prominently in the discussion:


I happen to be of the opinion that Benedict XVI’s reign was largely devoted to restoring beauty to the liturgy, and thus strength to the inner, contemplative aspect of Catholic life, while that of Francis seems largely devoted to restoring generosity to the world, and thus strength to the church’s outer, active side. In my view these two pontificates are therefore complementary, with contemplation rightly preceding action.

This, however, is not the view the mainstream press likes to take — for it is all a bit even-handed and non-partisan, which doesn’t grab as much attention as a lurid headline…


I cannot possibly comment on everything that was said in the documentary, much of which deals with known facts — abuses and coverups — but I did wonder, as I began to watch it, just how accurate it might be — and when I reached the point at 35′ 24″ where psychiatrist Martin Kafka MD of Harvard Medical School speaks [upper panel], I was surprised and a little dismayed:

You see, I was already acquainted with the views of Billy Graham‘s grandson, Boz Tchividjian [lower panel, above] on this precise question.

I am not in a position to evaluate the two claims: all that I can say is that Dr Kafka’s certainty seems to be in question, as does that of Boz Tchividjian, executive director of the Protestant investigative and reparative body, Godly Response to Abuse.

Why didn’t Frontline mention this no-less-expert and widely reported contrary opinion?


As I say, I am becoming increasingly leery of believing my own eyes — when what they are viewing is opinionated reporting of any stripe.


Up the Jihad River with gun and camera

Sunday, September 29th, 2013

[ by Charles Cameron -- the belt-fed video camera, & ammo for women ]

A brilliant photo juxtaposing war and media in a single image.

Also reminiscent of that Yardley’s “A Woman’s Ammunition” ad from so long ago:


Sex fatwas: N so very SFW

Monday, July 29th, 2013

[ by Charles Cameron -- a comparative view of one of the more alluring byways of the religious imagination ]

You’ll occasionally see reports of outré sexually-oriented fatwas emerging from the Middle East — and sometimes they’re entirely fictitious. This DoubleQuote is to remind us that outré sexually-oriented religious teachings can crop up all over the place, exercise a momentary thrill, and are soon forgotten.

The upper of the two images relates to a recent report in Al-Arabiya titled Pro-Mursi protesters are awaiting signal for ‘sexual Jihad’.

The lower of the two was taken from a “Flirty Fishing” pamphlet put out decades ago by the then Children of God aka The Family — the practice of FFing has since been discontinued. See also (highly NSFW):

  • FF Reports (the bureaucracy!)
  • Bought with a Price
  • God’s Whores, and
  • God’s Love Slave!
  • When last I looked, the best academic text on CoG and FFing was David van Zandt‘s book, Living in the Children of God. Sociologist of religions (and my e-colleague) Stuart Wright has a book chapter titled From “Children of God” to “The Family”: Movement Adaptation and Survival on The Family International’s current site.


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