Welcome of episode three (yes, the podcast) of the ongoing saga of mainstream journalists wrestling with the picky details of Christian tradition and doctrine (that whole Bible thing, you know) about the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus.
To catch up on this drama, you may want to glace at "Here we go again: Will someone please explain Christianity to the Associated Press?" and then "Seeking correction No. 2: Will some please explain Christianity to the AP photo desk?"
Concerning that second item, I must report -- sadly -- that, as of this morning -- the Associated Press website still contains the inaccurate photo tag line that reads:
The renovated Edicule is seen in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, traditionally believed to be the site of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, in Jerusalem's old city Monday, Mar. 20, 2017. A Greek restoration team has completed a historic renovation of the Edicule, the shrine that tradition says houses the cave where Jesus was buried and rose to heaven. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)
To repeat the main point here, Christian tradition (that whole Bible thing, again) teaches that -- after his resurrection -- Jesus spent 40 days with his disciples, was seen by crowds, etc., before his ascension into heaven. Journalists do not have to believe these doctrines. They do, however, need to report the beliefs accurate in stories linked to these sites, biblical passages, holy days and rites.
At the moment, reporters are veering into this territory, of course, because Holy Week and Easter are getting closer. Editors and producers know that it's time to put something into print and video about Easter, a holy day that isn't nearly as commercial and fun (in secular terms) as the season previously known as the Nativity of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
That was the starting point for this week's "Crossroads" podcast. How many times have you seen stories linked to Easter that either mess of the basics of Christianity or actually attack them? We are talking about television specials, covers of major newsweeklies and so forth and so on.
'Tis the season, you know. Talking about this tricky topic led host Todd Wilken to questions that took us right back into the roots of this weblog. For example: Why don't more newsroom managers hire experienced, talented, even award-winning religion-beat professionals to handle this kind of thing. Since Planet Earth is a big place, why doesn't AP have multiple religion writers?
This brings me back to that original Edicule report. Lots of publications are going to need to run corrections because, obviously, a story produced and circulated by the Associated Press is going to go all over the place.
For example, there is The Daily Mail on the other side of the big pond. That newspaper has a tradition of long, long, newsy headlines. Thus, the website still proclaims:
The Jerusalem tomb of Jesus restored:
Historic shrine that houses the cave where it is said Christ was buried on a slab and rose to heaven to reopen
Has anyone else seen news reports that managed to get the error into the headline? Amazing.
Also, I continue to get emails about a Vice News report of some kind in which the spin was that the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is where Jesus IS buried -- present tense. However, no one is sending me a URL. One person said this was a radio report.
I have also looked on the Vice News website, but clearly I am too old to be able to negotiate such edgy news terrain. #HELPME
Meanwhile there is this, care of the National Geographic. Again, this is a photo tagline:
A conservator cleans the surface of the stone slab venerated as the final resting place of Jesus Christ.
The "final" resting place of Jesus Christ? Is that the wording that best expresses 2,000 years of Christian thought on the resurrection?