Catholic Answers

GetReligion readers! Help with research project linked to one thing about Lenten news

GetReligion readers! Help with research project linked to one thing about Lenten news

Western liturgical Christians (and a few other believers, these days): I hope you are having a blessed Ash Wednesday and not getting into any trouble at work.

In newsrooms, the days just before Ash Wednesday officially open the season in which lots of editors and non-religion-beat reporters scramble to try to find photo-ops and maybe even easy stories linked to something that is going on called "Lent" and, eventually, "Easter."

This year, the calendar yielded a perfectly valid news hook, as captured in this headline from Religion News Service: "When Ash Wednesday falls on Valentine’s Day, what’s a clergyperson to do?" What happens when the waves of advertisements for jewels and chocolate collide with centuries of Catholic -- large "C" or small "c" -- tradition?

(RNS) -- For many this year, Feb. 14 is a day of mixed messages. It’s Valentine’s Day, a time for chocolate, roses and perhaps a dinner date. But it’s also Ash Wednesday, which for many Christians is the start of Lent, a period of penitence that precedes Easter Sunday.
How do clergy reconcile this calendar clash, the first of its kind since 1945? 

Eventually, attention will return to Lent itself, the penitential season (in the West) between Ash Wednesday and Easter. In the ancient traditions of Eastern Christianity, Great Lent begins this year -- on the older Julian calendar -- this coming Sunday, Feb. 18, with a service called Forgiveness Vespers, a beautiful rite that would be worthy of coverage. This year, Easter is on April 1 and, for the Orthodox, Pascha is on April 8.

Now, journalists -- on or off the religion-news beat -- what is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Lent? There are lots of facts and traditions linked to this season (the Orthodox go vegan for the whole thing), but I would assume that most people think, well, of one thing.

Right, what is the one thing you will give up for Lent? Chocolate? Colas? Facebook? While thinking that through, check out the top of this new Rick Hamlin commentary at The New York Times: "What Will You Give Up for Lent?"

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Video chat between tmatt and a serious Catholic conservative with news-media concerns

Video chat between tmatt and a serious Catholic conservative with news-media concerns

Trust me, it's not the headline that I would have chosen for a conversation on this topic.

I am referring to that headline on the YouTube atop this here video feature that proclaims: "Religion Reporting Tends to Suck."

But, hey, in the streaming-video world of conservative Catholic commentary the hosts can get a little bit edgy sometimes.

I mean, after all, I talked the show's host out of, "Why Religion Reporting Sucks." Period. So there.

The talk-show host, in this case, is Patrick Coffin. I was on his show a few weeks ago and the URL is now up for anyone who wants to go there.

Who is Coffin? Lots of Catholics will know the answer to that one already. He is a media pro and public speaker who, in the past, was best known as the host of the "Catholic Answers Live" radio show, which was syndicated to nearly 400 stations and carried on Sirius Satellite Radio. Here's his farewell show in that project.

Coffin takes on quite a few topics in this programs, with some politics -- but just as much material about issues of religion and culture. Click here for his homepage.

So, during this particular video-blog we ranged all over the place, starting with my home office in the secret city of Oak Ridge, Tenn., (my political cartoon collection is visible in the background) and then a political hot-button topic -- Melania Trump's choice of footwear.

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GetReligion drinking game? tmatt visits 'Catholic Answers' to explain why this blog exists

GetReligion drinking game? tmatt visits 'Catholic Answers' to explain why this blog exists

Our partners on the Issues, Etc., radio and podcasting team took this week off -- in part to get ready for their June 9-10 "Making the Case" conference in Collinsville, Ill.

I will be one of the featured speakers at that conference, addressing the challenges of finding solid journalism in an age of fake news. There is a second conference Nov. 10-11 in Houston that will, among others, feature M.Z. "GetReligionista emerita" Hemingway and Rod "Benedict Option" Dreher.

In other words, we didn't record a new Crossroads podcast for this week.

However, I did do a radio interview the other night with the national Catholic Answers program that I think will be of interest to many GetReligion readers -- especially newcomers. The topic was pretty obvious, with this title: "Why Don't the Media Get Religion?" Click the title to listen.

In a way, this was a GetReligion 101 mini-seminar, in terms of talking about the goals of this blog and why we think the mainstream press is -- when it comes to religion news -- worthy of serious criticism, as well as praise.

As you would expect, in a chat about that topic recorded this past week, the whole subject of the death of The New York Times Public Editor slot did come up, as discussed in this post ("Disturbance in the Journalism Force? New York Times spikes its public-editor post").

But the discussion went all over the place, with explanations of many topics that are familiar to GetReligion readers.

For example: What is a "religion ghost"? That literally takes us back 13 years, to the first paragraphs in the blog's first post:

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