28 November . Comment

Living into shared reality

There has already been a lot of commentary on the ways in which “fake news” shaped our recent election cycle. I worry that that concern sidetracks us from a larger issue, that of how we are beginning to inhabit our own realities, quite apart from any shared reality.

As Gilad Lotan notes, “With increased political polarization, amplified by homophily — our preference to connect to people like us — and algorithmic recommender systems, we’re effectively constructing our own realities.” He points to bias, and deliberately misleading information (otherwise known as propaganda), as stronger threats.

So what can counter them? Media educators have been working for years to develop pedagogical strategies that are effective and engaging, and now research continues to document ways in which media literacy education is much more effective at helping teens to improve “judgments of accuracy” with respect to news, much more effective than political knowledge, for instance. We are also learning that practices matter in relation to various media, even more than specific content.

I’ve long argued that media education is a crucial part of the religious education — indeed, that was the topic of my dissertation research — but these days I think it ought to be mandatory for theological education in particular, yet few seminaries do anything intentionally and explicitly in this area.

28 November . Comment

Tweets of the week

27 November . Comment

Advent, beginning again…

Today is the first day of the new year in the liturgical calendar, the beginning of Advent. This year we cycle through Year A of the lectionary, which focuses on Matthew. There is a delicate path to walk in reading Matthew in the midst of liturgy because the text can be heard in ways that contribute to anti-Judaism, even anti-Semitism, if there is not sufficient context offered.

For that reason I was moved and graced by the way in which the community of St. Basil’s church here in Toronto began the liturgy. They very specifically prayed and offered reflection which strongly affirmed the Jewish roots of Christian faith. It would be hard to make any supersessionist claims from within this liturgy — a grace for which I am indeed grateful!

Towards that end, here is my annual reminder that my favorite Advent hymn — O come, o come Emmanuel — has been given a revised set of lyrics so as not to condone or invite supersessionism. I urge you to sing this hymn with these lyrics, and to share them widely. If you are interested in how they came about, you can also read the commentary on the revised version.

21 November . Comment

Tweets of the week

14 November . Comment

Tweets of the week

12 November . Comment

Still stunned…

I haven’t been able to bring myself to blog in a long time. I’ve been emoting via Facebook, and of course still sending out various things via twitter. But blogging, especially following this election, is beyond me. Today I break that silence to share this editorial cartoon:


7 November . Comment

Tweets of the week

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