Does a Bowery building portend a "new focus" for the Catholic Church? NYT thinks so

Does a Bowery building portend a "new focus" for the Catholic Church? NYT thinks so

Readers of the print edition of Sunday's New York Times were met with the headline, "On Bowery, Church’s New Focus Leaves a Void for the Needy." Online readers got a similar message: "On the Bowery, Questions About the Catholic Church’s Shifting Mission."

So, how is the Church changing its mission, according to the Times? Is it altering its outreach to the poor?

Well...maybe. The Archdiocese of New York has closed down a single social-services center for homeless men, replacing it with an arts center. This, according to Times "Side Street" photo-essayist David Gonzalez, appears to be a sign that the Archdiocese is forgoing its mission to the poor in favor of the yuppification of the Lower East Side...or something. While he does not editorialize in the manner of the Times' headline writers, the message comes through via the people he chooses to narrate the story:

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On planned Noah's Ark theme park, NPR doesn't tell the hull story

On planned Noah's Ark theme park, NPR doesn't tell the hull story

NPR raises an eyebrow but mostly keeps an even keel in a report on a tax break for a planned creationist theme park in Kentucky. But the shallow draft of the story is less a voyage than a day cruise.

Answers in Genesis, which opened its dino-friendly Creation Museum in 2007 in Petersburg, Ky., now wants to build a fullsize replica of Noah's Ark and the Tower of Babel. For this so-called Ark Encounter, the state tourism board approved $18 million in tax breaks, though the state legislature still must ratify it.

The primeval story of a world cataclysm, and one man's effort to obey God through it all, has long captured people's imagination -- the epic film Noah,  released in March, has earned $359 million worldwide thus far. But NPR's focus is on the government's role in what it calls a "controversial" project.

Yet this article, part of NPR's  breaking news section called "The Two-Way," is a very brief 417 words and offers little background. Ken Ham, head of Answers in Genesis, is mentioned high in the story, yet he's never quoted directly. He's cited mainly for having debated Bill Nye, the so-called Science Guy, on creation versus evolution.

And that recap, in shipping terms, lists a little:

The debate, which was streamed live online, pitted Ham's biblical literalism, which among other things includes the belief in a 6,000-year-old Earth and that humans and dinosaurs co-existed, against Nye, who argued for Darwinian evolution.

Apparently, NPR thought biblical literalism needed spelling out, but Darwinian evolution was self-evident. Nor does the article quote Ham or anyone else connected with the project.

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Was Marx right that religion = "opium"?

Was Marx right that religion = "opium"?

ROD ASKS:

Was Marx right? Is religion the opiate of the masses?

THE RELIGION GUY ANSWERS:

This blog’s third item about atheism and atheists in seven weeks!  Rod cites the famous quote about religion from a 26-year-old Karl Marx in 1844, four years before he co-authored the momentous “Communist Manifesto.” Here’s the full context in his typically prolix prose, from the introduction to “A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right”:

“The struggle against religion is, therefore, indirectly the struggle against that world whose spiritual aroma is religion. Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people. The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness…” (Oxford University Press translation, 1970).

Before seeing how some analysts unpack those words let’s scan a bit of biography. 

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10 years at GetReligion: Why we are still here (refreshed)

10 years at GetReligion: Why we are still here (refreshed)

The late Leonard Smith was, according to his Jan. 26 obituary at the Greenwich Time newspaper in Southwest Connecticut, a radically independent man who never hid his beliefs. A native of New York City, he was World War II veteran and a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He liked to sail and raise hunting dogs. He was devoted to his wife and five kids, to the churches they frequented and to charities.

I have a strong suspicion that quite a few faithful GetReligion readers would have liked Mr. Smith -- a whole lot.

Especially Rod "friend of this blog" Dreher. More on that later today.

Why? Consider this passage at the end of the obituary for Smith:

Leonard Smith hated pointless bureaucracy, thoughtless inefficiency and bad ideas born of good intentions. He loved his wife, admired and respected his children and liked just about every dog he ever met. He will be greatly missed by those he loved and those who loved him. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you cancel your subscription toThe New York Times.

Yes, there are quite a few people in this great land of ours who not afraid to share their negative feelings about The New York Times.

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Low-budget Bible Belt films meet the bright lights of Hollywood

Low-budget Bible Belt films meet the bright lights of Hollywood

Hollywood has discovered the Bible Belt — again.

Here at GetReligion, our leader — Terry Mattingly — suggested in 2011:

Someone needs to copyright that phrase, "Tinseltown is rediscovering religion." You can make some money off it in three to five years.

Back in March, USA Today reported on Hollywood finding "religion and profits at theaters." Over at Religion News Service, Editor Kevin Eckstrom linked to a similar Los Angeles Times story in April and quipped:

Pretty sure we’ve seen about 5,429 versions of this story already

Right. We get it. Hollywood is trying to lure Christian audiences to the cineplex. Again. Meanwhile, in other news …

Which leads us to the subject of this post: an Associated Press feature this week with this headline:

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Ghost hunting in Thailand: Why didn't surrogate abort?

Ghost hunting in Thailand: Why didn't surrogate abort?

A surrogate mother bears fraternal twins, one of them with Down's syndrome. She carries the child to term "on religious grounds," in defiance of the parents' order to abort him. So they take the non-Down's child, leaving the other with her.

Prime soap material, you'll no doubt agree. But for GetReligion folks, this Reuters article out of Thailand fairly shouts something else: "Ghost Story!"

 But we ain't 'fraid o' no ghosts. Let's take a closer look:

Pattaramon Janbua said her doctors, the surrogacy agency and the baby's parents knew he was disabled at four months but did not inform her until the seventh month when the agency asked her - at the parents' request - to abort the disabled fetus.
Pattaramon, 21, told Reuters Television she refused the abortion on religious grounds and carried both him and his twin sister to term six months ago. The parents, who have not been identified, took only the girl back with them to Australia.

OK, ghost hunting time. On what religious grounds did Pattaramon Janbua refuse to abort Gammy? The beliefs of Theravada, the main form of Buddhism in Thailand?

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This 'Kellerism' term is catching on, methinks

This 'Kellerism' term is catching on, methinks

It appears that this new GetReligion term -- "Kellerism" -- is catching on among people who have, for years or decades, been close readers of the cultural bible that is The New York Times.

What is "Kellerism," or the journalism gospel according to former New York Times editor Bill Keller? Click here for a primer.

Now, Rod "friend of this blog" Dreher linked to our Kellerism term in one of his posts explaining his recent decision to cancel his Times subscription. Friends and neighbors, Rod is a cultural conservative who has, as a mainstream journalist, been defending the essential integrity of the Times for a long, long time.

Before we get to his remarks, I want to put them in some context.

Two years ago, Arthur S. Brisbane signed off as the reader's representative for the Times with a column entitled, "Success and Risk as The Times Transforms." He defended the world's most powerful newspaper, yet also made the following observation linked to the hot-button subject of media bias:

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The inky-fingered Dawn

The inky-fingered Dawn

It is a joy and an honor to join GetReligion, as this site has done much to shape my understanding of the dynamics involved in news coverage of religious issues.

I am a very traditional religious believer with a decidedly unorthodox background. I am also a journalist. Put that together and some people think I'm controversial, especially those with long memories who remember when, as a new Christian convert, I was outspoken on issues relating to sexual morality and abortion. Nearly 10 years ago, that outspokenness -- along with an error of misplaced zeal -- lost me a newspaper job, as I'll relate here momentarily.

But here is the bottom line: having put in years in New York City newsrooms, not to mention decades as a rock music historian, I know the value of a free press, and I want to see mainstream journalists produce accurate, fair, balanced reporting on faith issues. That's why I am here at GetReligion.

New York City is in fact my birthplace (technically: Mom was rushed from New Rochelle to a Brooklyn hospital) and raised Reform Jewish -- sort of. Although I was a bat mitzvah, I was also exposed to various New Age practices after my parents' divorce, as my mother explored the Seventies religion smorgasbord.

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Moving day: Back home at GetReligion.org

Moving day: Back home at GetReligion.org

So, here we are once again -- back home at GetReligion.org, where Doug Leblanc and I first pitched camp more than 10 years ago.

As I explained in the exit post at Patheos, this whole week is going to have a kind of Christmas in July feel to it. Why is that?

Well, we have been working on this move for a long time, a very long time -- since the last month or two of 2013. It's hard to move a website from a commercial, very complicated website like the Patheos hub to a completely different platform. Our decade-plus archive contains millions of words and thousands or hyperlinks, images and comments that you want to bring with you.

So the goal was to make this move (cue: drum roll) back on our 10th anniversary -- which was Feb. 2. That was technically impossible, for reasons that we don't have time to discuss. 

Thus, this week is going to have a kind of Christmas in July, 2nd of February on August the 4th sort of feel to it. Does that make sense? 

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