Sunday, April 13, 2008

It is no secret that Baptist "news" outlets have found it difficult on occasion to actually report the news. (At least, in a classical sense.) Some of these "news" outlets can be more accurately described as "commentary" because their "news stories" represent a particular angle--perhaps an angle that is given to them from an office down the hall.

Never was this more apparent than in the "reporting" on A Southern Baptist Declaration on the Environment and Climate Change by Baptist Press. Nearly a week after the story broke, Baptist Press ran a heap of articles (I lost count at 15) on the subject. Only one opinion piece could be interpreted as representing an opposing side. At one point, every story on their main page was related to this topic--a move that has been politely called "heavyhanded." Baptist Press even received a lashing from SBCOutpost regarding a slanted and condescending title to a "news" story; it was changed later that day.

Over that week, I sent several emails to the Editor of Baptist Press asking to share my point of view or explain the other side of the "news" being presented. Even though he and I had spoken on several occasions during the month leading up to this, I never received a response to these emails. I think it is fair to say that no self-respecting "news" organization would print stories calling me by name without allowing me to share an opposing view or at least respond to my emails. That is unless the "news" organization was merely offering commentary.

Yet, The Christian Index released a series of stories this week that gives me hope. The architect, Joe Westbury, posted articles both for and against and printed our interview in transcipt format. (You may remember that Westbury was the one who went against the grain and broke the NAMB story that caused such an uproar and ultimately resulted in the release of that agency's President.) Gerald Harris, Joe Westbury and The Index staff prove that Baptist journalism is alive and well in Duluth, GA. I know I speak for others who appreciate what they are trying to do. Here's to hoping others will follow.


Prodigal Jon said...

thanks for stopping by my site, stuff christians like. It's been a ridiculous experience.

I think you might know my brother Bennett.


Cory said...

I thoroughly enjoyed reading all about your 'endeavor' in The Christian Index. I am so glad you have spoken out about Christian stewardship of God's creation.
President Akin's statement that conservative theology and conservative politics are not always the same is certainly true. All one has to do is to look back at how the most conservative white churches in the south treated our black brothers and sisters in Christ.
Your answers in the interview were concise and thoughtful, and I was inclined to find the document online and read it. It said much of what needs to be said and most importantly and obviously 'opened the floodgate' to a long overdue (hopefully Christlike) debate. I do have a suggestion which might help alleviate some of the reactions you are receiving. Tie care for the environment in with cultivating relationships. Many conservative Christians view care of the environment as 'taking away' from humankind. They do not connect caring for the environment with sacrificing for others, though there certainly is a connection.
Simple living (living more with less) protects relationships as much as it protects the environment. Focusing less on things and activities allows you to prioritize your relationships with God and others and simultaneously protect the environment.
While you are considering future ministry possibilities consider a ministry of living simply as an example to others...even if it is just for a time, perhaps long enough to write a book about your experience. This time would provide you with a foundation for ministry which few ministers would have. It would not be the cookie-cutter foundation but one which would be formed by you and the Lord as you relate to Him and others in a much slower-paced life. This might be the only time in your life that you would feel free to make the decision to do this. Once a person chooses a typical lifestyle and becomes responsible for others, such as a wife and children, it is much harder to back away from consumerism. If you chose a simple life, some would tell you that you were not living in the 'real world', but I maintain that your simple world would be just as real and more meaningful than the fast-paced world most of us live in which passes by at a speed almost too fast to comprehend. You have the attention of many at this juncture of your life, and if you were to announce that you were going to try out an experiment in simple living, for say a year, your life would become a living example to many who would keep up with what you were doing via reading your blog and hopefully at the end of your experiment, your journal/book.
We have a small weekend getaway/cabin in Meriwether County, GA (south of Atlanta and very rural) on 230 acres of woods, open fields, and a pond which would be a great place for you to 'experiment'. I am sure others would have similar places which would be possibilities as well. If you are interested in that possibility or in conversing more about the issues I mentioned, just respond to my comment. I realize you are busy with school and may not have time to respond.
One of my favorite books is Following Christ in a Consumer Society. I read it years ago and cannot remember if I agreed with everything in it, but the majority of it was very inspiring and hit our consumer culture hard. John Francis Kavanaugh, the author, speaks of 'the commodity form' (consumerism) versus 'the personal form' (focusing on relationships) in ways that really make one think about what is most important in this life God has given us.
May God bless you with the true riches in this world, Cory

Cory said...

Jonathan, If you are interested in the book I mentioned I would be glad to send you a copy, Cory

Shane "George" Lambert said...


Although I personally believe global warming is much ado about nothing, and I don't believe I could sign your document, I do believe you have the right to be heard. I hope Baptist Press will reconsider and do the right thing.

As far as your statement on the environment (and yes, I did read it); I believe your heart is in the right place. Having met you briefly when we were in Lynchburg, I know you well enough to know that you are trying to honor God in what you are doing. For me, however, there are too many questions about the legitmacy of man-made global warming. To pledge myself to take action to reverse something that I'm not even sure man is responsible for in the first place is, in my opinion, irresponsible. I will, however, fight for your right to be heard within our convention.

We may not agree on everything (alcohol, global warming, who knows what else), but I do appreciate reading your point of view. Your arguments are well made and very thought provoking. I like it when people challenge me and make me think.

Keep up the good work!