God on the boob tube

Rel&EthicsBobLet us now praise the men and women of the PBS newsmagazine "Religion & Ethics Newsweekly," who have been covering religion on the tube since 1997. Because of the show's longevity and consistency, it's as easy to ignore as the rising and setting of the sun. But one recent show demonstrated that the program is both very well done and valuable.

The Sept. 18 segment featured a profile of Pulitzer Prize-winning author Marilynne Robinson by R&EN head honcho Bob Abernethy, who talks to Robinson about the sacred in her home and follows her to one of her public lectures. Now I feel I "get" this author whose books I already love.

The show also featured a story on an experiment in virtual spirituality called "Second Life" by Lucky Severson, along with R&EN's news summary and look at upcoming events on the world religion calendar.

And did I mention the nice interview with religion and politics expert John Green by R&EN's managing editor/correspondent Kim Lawton, who picked up the first place award in the Best Television Reporting category at this year's Religion Newswriters Association gathering? (She won for her 2008 report "Continuing King's Legacy," which looked at how African-American ministers are claiming the mantle of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. forty years after his assassination.)

(I also loved the Sept. 11 segment by TV veteran--nearly 30 years!--Bob Faw who traveled to Sparta, Wisconsin to profile the "Laser Monks" who combine Cistercian solitude with small business smarts.)

Not every weekly program hits a home run, but I religiously record the latest episode every weekend and review it during the week (as they say: check your local listings). You can also search the show's robust website to see what you've missed.

So thank you, men and women of "Religion & Ethics Newsweekly," along with the Lilly Endowment and other donors who make this program possible.

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