The Arizona Republic‘s coverage of an alleged conflict between the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its efforts to convert Latino Catholics troubles me in a number of ways. But before I get into my criticism, I think it’s worth saying at the top that just covering this issue is an excellent first step. The challenge faced by the reporter is that this is a massive issue that requires a close examination into a number of different areas that are sensitive, conflicting and anything but straightforward.
Sometimes the media amazes me with its ability to ignore the way religion influences people’s lives. Often the result is that religion is hinted at, suggested in an off-hand manner, or noted in an unintentionally ironic manner.
Houston Chronicle readers were introduced last week to the fact that a first generation Pakistani Muslim woman has values and preferences for a life mate that look an awful lot like a lot of Christian American women. She also faces a lot of the challenges all Americans face in general in finding a suitable life partner.
My favorite quote coming out of the controversy over the Detroit Tigers’s decision to schedule their home opener during the time Jesus Christ is believed to have hung on the cross on Good Friday goes as quoted in The Detroit News:
Not that anyone should be surprised, but a portion of the national community that makes up Notre Dame’s supporters, alumni, students and the parents of students, are none too thrilled with the fact that President Obama will be speaking at the institution’s graduation this spring and receiving an honorary degree. Their problem is that Obama’s official policies directly contradict Catholic teaching on the subject of the sanctity of human life.
Death and dying are intricately tied to the subjects of God, religion and faith. The Los Angeles Times made this clear earlier this week in its detailed look at why some statistics show that cancer patients deemed terminally ill requested intensive, but useless medical treatment, such as breathing machines, at a much higher rate if their faith was a significant factor in the their medical decision.
I don’t watch American Idol, but I think that if I lived in a foreign culture, that country’s version of the show would be a great place to learn about that particular society. This rather amazing Guardian story on Afghanistan’s Afghan Star television show gives readers a glimpse into a society that we generally only hear in the news when it relates to war, terrorism and international politics. As a reader noted, how often do we hear about the regular people from Afghanistan, the ones who have put up with multiple invasions, governments and a bleak future.
I just finished watching this season’s second to last episode of HBO’s Big Love soap opera, and I believe there may be another hidden reason that the show makes Mormons uneasy. Much of the media’s attention has been on the fact that this episode portrayed a scene in a Mormon temple, however, the show did have one line that caught me: the main character expressly claimed that the Mormon church was just as corrupt as the show’s main antagonists who are practicing polygamy and generally in trouble with the law.
There is some real irony in this week’s apology from HBO regarding their anticipated controversial portrayal of a Mormon temple’s “sacred endowment ceremony” in the amazingly entertaining and insightful Sunday night soap opera Big Love. The show, which features a Utah polygamous family dealing with the challenges if interacting with both the secular world and with their fundamentalist roots, is genuinely known for portraying conservative religious beliefs quite sympathetically. Some would even say that it is (arguably) “one of the most sympathetic portraits” of such beliefs.