Media and Religion

A Discussion on the Ever-Growing Attention of TV, Newspapers, and Magazines on Religious Topics

Presented by Crossroads Cultural Center

“Media and Religion,” is a broad enough topic to include many possible aspects, such as why the media cover religion the way they do, how they could do better, how we can help them and so on.

We would like to offer just one simple observation that may help start the discussion. Clearly, “religion” has been a very hot topic in the media during the last few years. The catalysts of this interest are well-known: domestically, the important social and political role of the so-called “religious right” (whatever that means); externally, the role of political Islam as a global ideology, especially after 9/11. These phenomena seem to have generated among many people working in the media (who apparently tend to be quite secular) a vague sense that there is this semi- foreign reality out there called “religion,” which had fallen off everybody's radar screen but which now is causing quite a fuss and must be covered. What is striking though, is that the coverage is almost never about religion per se. Rather, it is mostly about religion as a function of something else. Religion as a political motivator, religion as a source of social values, religion as a cultural marker, religion in relationship to science, religion and the “clash of civilizations,” and so on and so forth. But the reality of religion itself is rarely explored, religious ideas and experiences are not considered newsworthy by themselves. Few seem to suspect that “religion” as a general concept only goes so far, that people do share the same questions but that the answers can be very different and interesting. Paradoxically, a reason why some people in the media are not genuinely interested in the world of “religions” (plural) is because they hardly grasp what “religion” (singular) is about, namely the deeper questions and needs that make us human, that level of our experience that Msgr. Giussani called the ”religious sense.” To refer back to another Crossroads discussion from a few months ago, media people often share in the common mentality of our time, which reduces faith to sentiment. Once again, what seems to be called for, also on their part, is that “broadening of reason” that Benedict XVI proposed in his Regensburg address.

We are very pleased to have three distinguished panelist who can speak of these matters out of their own personal and professional experience, not just academically. In fact, this is what we are most interested in: learning from these three remarkable people, all deeply engaged both with the media and with religion, what they have learned from their experiences, their struggles, their successes and, we suppose, even their failures.

About this Event

Date: Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Time: 7pm
Location: Pope Auditorium at Fordham University
113 West 60th Street @ Columbus Avenue, New York

About the Speakers

Lorenzo Albacete
Msgr. Lorenzo Albacete is a theologian, author and columnist...

Peter Steinfels
Peter Steinfels, co-director of the Fordham University Center on Religion and Culture, is also a university professor at Fordham and religion columnist for The New York Times...

Helen Whitney
Helen Whitney is an award-winning TV producer for ABC and PBS...


Download the Invitation here


Read the Transcript here


To come

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