I have spilled imaginary gallons of electronic ink decrying the quality of our media. Yet I find the recent hubbub involving news reading airhead Lauren Green’s interview with Professor of Religion Reza Aslan unimportant. I suppose it is possible to become jaded that a typical news reader is hired largely for aesthetics, as the former Miss Minnesota suggests. I did make some half-hearted comments in various social media.
Below is quoted from Whatever Works:
Green: “It still begs the question though, why would you be interested in the founder of Christianity?”
Aslan: “Because it’s my job as an academic. I am a professor of religion, including the New Testament. That’s what I do for a living, actually.”
Mr. Aslan is a scholar in religions. A professional news reader (with a graduate degree in journalism, no less) doesn’t seem to understand the meaning of the phrase “to beg the question.” Yet this hackneyed stereotype (former beauty queen turned TV news reader) incorrectly uses the phrase in questioning the religion expertise of a professor of religion at a major university.
On an old Army friend’s posting, a former colleague wrote this comment:
As poorly as the interviewer conducted herself…she raised a valid set of questions….and the supposition is that (just like a Christian scholar can hardly write – even with “scholarly authority” – on Judiaism or Islam, Buddhism, Mithraism…etc…..(her question, at least least in my view, was never answered).We are the sum total of our beliefs….and it will, and does, (because it defines our ethos) affect our views, our “studies” etc. COme on guys….this man converted as an adult…which requires a SEE (significant emotional event). Of course it is going to affect how he studies, writes, theorizes. Duh. All the more reason to be skeptical while reading his book…makes it all the more enjoyable.
If a person does not worship Zeus, he obviously can’t write with “scholarly authority” on the Olympian gods.
That’s also why no scholarly work has ever been done on the Nordic or Mesopotamian gods.
Ultimately, though, I can barely get up the energy to climb upon the soapbox to point out the abject ridiculousness of the infotainment approach to journalism. It is no longer like beating a dead horse. Rather, it is like standing downwind from the much scavenged beast, which is now clearly in a gruesome state of decay and yelling the obvious at annoyed passersby.
Update: I shouldn’t neglect to point out that the only other place I have heard the name “Aslan” was as the lion (the obvious Jesus character) in C.S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.