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WSJ Resists Entropy, Finds Faith


HANNAH: Is there anything in it?
VALENTINE: In what? We are all doomed? (Casually.) Oh yes, sure—it’s called the second law of thermodynamics.
HANNAH: Was it known about?
VALENTINE: By poets and lunatics from time immemorial.

Arcadia, by Tom Stoppard (1993)

Almost three years have passed since I took pen to paper in aid of the work of GetReligion and TMP. I welcome the opportunity to return to the team of writers led by TMatt who cover the coverage of religion reporting in the secular press.

Much has changed in my life these past few years. I have left the Church of England Newspaper after 18 years and have been engaged in the parish ministry in rural Florida as rector of Shepherd of the Hills Episcopal Church in Lecanto. I’ve gone up in the church world and now can claim the right to wear purple buttons on my cassock following my election as dean of Northwest Central Florida, and I remain active with two online ventures, Anglican.Ink and Anglican Unscripted.

The media world has not stood still either. The decline in professional standards -- clarity of language, honesty in reporting, balance and integrity in sourcing -- continues. We in the media are all doomed.
Rudolf Clausius’ 1865 maxim: "The energy of the universe is constant; the entropy of the universe tends to a maximum" -- from which he formulated the second law of thermodynamics  -- is true for journalism as well as physics. A race to the bottom is underway. 

We are now at a point where the Sun, a British redtop or tabloid, is a better source for religion reporting than the Independent (one of Britain’s national papers). Compare these reports on a Catholic abuse scandal in Italy published earlier this month.

The Sun’s story is entitled: “ROMPING IN THE PEWS: Randy Italian priest ‘with 30 lovers’ faces the sack for ‘organising wild S&M orgies on church property’.” The Independent’s piece has the less colorful headline: “Italian priest faces defrocking for ‘organising orgies on church property’.”

Naughty vicar stories are a staple of the British press. Though the influence of religion may have receded in the lives of many Europeans, they still enjoy a good story about sex, hypocrisy and the clergy. Both articles give details of the misconduct of Fr. Contin. (With that name like that, I was surprised not to see allusions to "incontinence." That might say more about me, but I digress.)

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