Tuesday, April 20, 2004

BloggerCon: Jay Rosen on Journalism and Weblogging / Jeff Sharlet on Religion and Blogging

At the recent BloggerCon (which I was unfortunately unable to attend due to unforeseen circumstances), there was a discussion on a topic titled "What is Journalism....And What Can Weblogs Do About It?" led by Jay Rosen.
The prelude to the discussion is at Jay's PRESSthink site. Link here.

For all who are interested, the Blogger Con Feedster collection of post-con blog entries is HERE.

There's also a more directly-related list at liloia.com.

Jay McCarthy has some comments about the "What is Journalism And What Can Weblogs Do About It?" discussion.

Jeff Sharlet of The Revealer led a BloggerCon discussion on Religion and Blogging. (See: "Do you believe in blog?"I surely wish I'd been there for this discussion.
Commentaries deposited at the Little Green Footballs blog came up in the Blogger Con discussion. Jeff says:

Little Green Footballs, the 33rd most popular blog out there according to Technorati, have other ideas. LGF, as it's known, was a subject at this past Saturday's Bloggercon religion session. A commentator noted that religion blogging can lead to a perverse kind of "common ground" when it brings several different types of believers -- Protestants, Catholics, and Jews at LGF -- together in hatred of an "enemy," defined here as pretty much all Muslims, worldwide.

"I would be more than happy to see a Spanish Inquisition targetted at mohammedans alone....to the last devil worshipping one," writes one commentator. "Poor poor muslims," writes another. "What kind of country would look down on a holy people such as the muslims who worship an evil religion founded by violent pedophile?"

These guys could really use a pig roast.

I agree that through the use of the blog, we are capable of creating a deeper understanding of what I like to call "folk-faith". It's faith as we truly live it in the face of human joy and tragedy.

A topic I would like to have discussed: How does one explain a near 50-50 split in political ideology in today's American Catholic faith? Take a look at Sojourner magazine and at the bloggers who speak of social justice issues through the Catholic filter of literary figures such as Dorothy Day, Thomas Merton, Walker Percy, Henri Nouwen, Daniel Berrigan, Ronald Rolheiser, Msgr. Joseph Champlin? How many mainstream religion-journalists write with the faithfires that have fueled these Catholic Americans? I believe that the writers who, although challenged by the toughest worldy challenges, burned with a faith borne of strong experiential individuality which nearly consumed them in spirit are all too rare. My favorite blog-reads are the folks who are equally consumed by the passion that leads them to creating a better world now in loving preparation for the next. Why are most of today's mainstream religion-writings often pop-shallow, fright-producing, guilt-heightening, or deadening in their effects on the reader? Why do so many of today's religion-followers choose to exist in prejudgement of those who do not share their group-mentality? Is faith not that which illuminates the earth-dark path to man's individual soul....is faith not what separates him from the pack animals? Are we too afraid of loneliness? Of death? As bloggers write more and more on these topics, will the folk-face (no--that's not a dirty word ;) of our attitude toward religion change? Will we...could we change the face of mainstream religious journalism?
Bob Woodward, Colin Powell, Prince Bandar, Iraq War, Indian elections in today's headlines

A snub from King Abdullah II-- It's the most recent expression of Arab anger at President Bush. Sorrowfully, Jordan is one of only two of Israel's Arab neighbors to have a peace treaty with Israel. King Abdullah believes Israeli withdrawal from Gaza must be part of the peace plan and not an alternative to it and he is still open to future discussions with the U.S.

Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi ambassador to Washington is denying Bob Woodward's writing about a secret plan to increase oil production (driving down gas prices) to help Bush win the November elections. Hmmmmm--
Let's see..... there's two men with two tales. There's Prince Bandar (representing the nation from which 15 of the 19 Sept.11 hijackers hailed...who was strangely rewarded that fateful morning by being secretly whisked away by airplane--no questions asked---when all U.S. air travel was allegedly suspended-- courtesy of his friend G.W. Bush) and there's trusted journalist Bob Woodward who bravely broke the Watergate story. .Which fellow will I believe? My (easy) decision (and most likely the majority of Americans): Bob Woodward.

The two faces of Colin Powell--

"The question that has arisen seems to be that Prince Bandar received a briefing on the plan, with some suggestion that I hadn’t," Powell told NBC's Andrea Mitchell. "Of course I had. I was intimately familiar with the plan and I was aware that Prince Bandar was being briefed on the plan.”

But Woodward said Monday on CNN's “Larry King Live” that while Powell might have known of the plan, he was not told of the decision to implement it until after the Jan. 11 meeting with Bandar. [link]

Bob Woodward's wry comments about Prince Bandar's flimsy rationalization of being informed (before our own Secretary of State) of the President's intention to attack Iraq:

“Going back to Nixon, I’ve heard all of them... This goes in the hall of fame of dodges and fishy explanations, I think it should get an academy award ... Congratulations, Bandar.”[link]

Citizens of India have shown they have guts and a strong desire to fulfill civic duty. Undeterred by kidnappings, deadly rebel attacks and 113-degree heat, Indians went to the polls and cast ballots Tuesday in the first day of three-week parliamentary elections in their country. 15 Indians are dead today because they tried to vote. The thought of some intelligent-yet-lazy American couch potato sitting at home on U.S. election day fills me with disgust.

In light of the Iraq quagmire, a politically injured Tony Blair is putting a new European Union (EU) constitution to a nationwide vote in the U.K., bowing to demands from opposition Conservatives who say the new charter would threaten British sovereignty.
He once expressed great opposition to such a vote.

"It is time to resolve once and for all whether this country, Britain, wants to be at the center and heart of European decision-making or not; time to decide whether our destiny lies as a leading partner and ally of Europe, or on its margins."

-Tony Blair

Juan Cole comments about the drumbeat of twisted information we hear about Syrian government complicity in infiltration of foreign fighters into Iraq:

Despite the constant drumbeat about alleged Syrian complicity in infiltration of foreign fighers into Iraq, there is not any good proof of it.The fighters that have been captured are mostly Iraqi (some 10,000, I think), with only a few foreigners among them. And, Syria is lambasted for having massacred the Sunni Arab radical fundamentalists, so it is a little unlikely to be supplying them deliberately to Fallujah, which has lots of its own. Rather, if there is infiltration, it is mostly because Syria has a long desert border that can't be controlled (the US should talk--look at its border with Mexico, which is like a sieve). I think this ritual invocation of Syria in connection with infiltration is just a way of attempting to intimidate and bully Syria, which some in the Bush administration would like to topple. If they think Iraqi instability is bad, wait until they see Syria without a proper government in Damascus.

On any possible U.S. attack on Najaf which is being held off by a two-day truce, Juan Cole reports that the spokesman for al-Sadr has said:

"We are prepared for a confrontation, and we believe that this attack will represent the zero hour for the launching of a massive popular revolution."

-- Qeis al-Khaz'ali, spokesman for Muqtada al-Sadr

al-Khaz'ali has also announced his support for sending UN international peace forces to Iraq, but stressed that the "occupation forces should withdraw from the occupied area and release the political prisoners. Then the war will end."

He warned:

" If the Americans continue to move in the field," the war of Vietnam will seem to them easy and simple" in comparison to what is waiting them in Iraq."