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Good Morning Nanty Glo!
              Monday, October 29 2001 

A commentary on mass media

The quick tour of my former career as a minister last week and the week before examined my motives for going into the ministry and the emotional impact having to give up the ministry made on me and what changes it wrought in my life's course. I had no idea when I finished that series last Wednesday that I'd be revisiting another aspect of that part of my past so soon. However, an article I was referred to over the weekend was too good not to discuss here, but to do so I first have to do a little stage setting.

After four years of undergraduate college, an additional four years in several graduate schools, and a career as a professional journalist behind me, when I moved my ministry from Southern California to Stanford University in 1972 I put my full energy into social criticism from a biblical Christian perspective as I understood both the problems and solutions. An important component of that was my own continuing eduation...constantly studying the culture through the mass media and the theological and evangelistic teachings of the church. I published magazines for three specific audiences through the ministry: university students who were either professing Christians or inquiring into Christianity, a support constituency interested in ministering to the first-described student population and therefore of supporting our cause, and a cross-section of the general public.

My colleagues and I also developed curricula that we turned into courses given at the university, nearby churches, and other campuses. The most successful course we gave at Stanford, which its students could take for full university credit, was called "Minorities and Movements in the Mass Media." It had components on Black Americans, Hispanics, Jewish-Americans, Asian-Americans, American Indians (then called Native Americans), the gay and feminist movements, and Christianity as either a minority or a movement (students could take their choice). As a class (which was open to anyone interested in the subject), we looked at the way the media treated each of these groups and whether it might be possible to change the kind of coverage groups received.

We examined, in particular, articles and films and TV documentaries that dealt with minorities or movements and tried to evaluate how partial or impartial the coverage was, whether it was accurate, fair, and whether it displayed biases on the part of the presenting media. It's because of all this that I was especially struck by a column dealing with the New York Times' coverage of the cultural impact of the September 11 catastrophe.

But for today, the margins of the postcard are all full, so I'll take up at that point tomorrow.

Webmaster Jon Kennedy

AAADD (age-activated attention deficit disorder)

I just wanted to let you know that I have recently been diagnosed with AAADD - age-activated attention deficit disorder. This is how it goes. . . I decide to do the laundry, start down the hall and notice the newspaper on the table.

OK, I'm going to do the laundry . . . BUT FIRST, I'm going to read the newspaper. After that, I notice the mail on the table. OK, I'll just put the newspaper in the recycle stack . . . BUT FIRST I'll look through the pile of mail and see if there are any bills to be paid. Yes. Now where is the checkbook? Oops . . . there's the empty glass from yesterday on the coffee table. I'm going to look for that checkbook . . . BUT FIRST I need to put the glass in the sink.

I head for the kitchen, look out the window, notice my poor flowers need a drink of water. I put the glass in the sink and there's the remote for the TV on the kitchen counter. What's it doing here? I'll just put it away . . . BUT FIRST I need to water those plants. I head for the door and . . . Aaaagh! Stepped on the dog. Dog needs to be fed.

Okay, I'll put the remote away and water the plants . . . BUT FIRST I need to feed the dog.

END OF DAY: Laundry is not done, newspapers are still on the floor, glass is still in the sink, bills are not paid, checkbook is still lost, and the dog ate the remote control. And, when I try to figure out how come nothing got done today, I'm baffled because . . . I KNOW I WAS BUSY ALL DAY!

I realize this condition is serious . . . I'd get help . . . BUT FIRST . . . I think I'll check my e-mail.

Sent by Mike Harrison

Thought for the day

There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.

—Albert Einstein

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