Sunday, March 17, 2013

New Media - Religion in Media

The URL in the syllabus is no longer functioning. Download the article by Matt Taibbi here.

This article talks about American Evangelical Christianity and, more specifically, what the writer calls Christian Zionism. The group that Taibbi visits might be called “Fundamentalist,” although I never liked that term. Pentecostal, evangelical, radical, what else?

What did you like in this article, if anything? What did you dislike?

It reminds me of Jesus Camp or even the scenes in Borat where Borat gets “baptized in the Holy Spirit.”

These are not images of traditional Christianity, right? What are these images of?

How is the presentation of this article different from any other “anti-Christian” type of reporting that one might find in other media? We can assume that this article appeared in the print version of Rolling Stone magazine, although I’m not sure that it’s clear from the online article.

This article was originally posted online, and included with it a comments section. Often, online articles include a forum for response in a much more immediate sense than writing letters to the magazine affords. There is also much less gate-keeping, in terms of editorial control over the responses that are culled from such an article. In addition to this, there is less inhibition on the part of the respondants--they are anonymous posters online. Do you have an opinion of comments sections on the web in general?

1 comment:

Phil Wiebe said...

I mostly disliked the article; based on his other work as well, I find Matt Taibbi to be an unpleasant person to read on account of his style and content. Some of his observations were correct and he even was successfully humorous a few times, but in general it was weak material. It wasn't because of his irreverence - there is a method to irreverence that does not preclude being compelling and commendable - it just came across as insipid. When you pick the easiest target, lampoonery ceases to be an artform - it makes the author look almost as foolish as his target, because you get the impression that Taibbi really thinks this sample populations is representative of Christians in America. These aren't images of traditional Christianity; without calling the faith of those involved into question, this is pseudo-Christianity that doesn't abide by the foundational creeds or acknowledge the traditions of Christian theology and philosophy. If Matt Taibbi honestly wanted to interact with Christian doctrine he could've just read a catechism of the denomination of his choosing, and his choice to go after bizarre charismatics shows that he either wasn't interested in doing that or he really didn't know better. However, it is different from other anti-Christian pieces in that he went out of his way to do some investigative journalism and involve himmself.

Comments on online articles are a mixed blessing indeed (as I know from Push Select). I've realized that most serious writers don't even get involved in the comments section on their own article and those who do are either summarily torn apart or come off looking worse than they did before. This leads to me believe that for the most part comments options on contentious posts are mainly there to pander to the readers and pull them in rather than provide some kind of legitimate reader-writer avenue of communication. The webcomic Penny Arcade sums it up best (language caution):