Now, this is why CNN has a religion blog!
Terry Mattingly January 12th, 2011
Don't you just love it when Congress holds hearings on a complex topic — think the state of family farming — and the powers that be call a famous actress as a witness because, in a movie, she played a woman whose farm is in trouble?
The flip side of that is when journalists turn away from the real experts on the scene when dealing with a complex topic (or calling on people with direct, practical experience) and focus on the opinions of celebrities or the views of academics at famous institutions three time zones away from the event (think Branch Davidians in Waco) who have no real links to the topic, but their faces are famous on TV?
What we have here is a CNN weblog item that is gently poking a bit of fun — as I read it — at, well, CNN for a classic example of this syndrome. Note that this, however, is on a popular culture weblog operated by this cable kingdom.
Read it and laugh, to keep from crying:
After thousands of birds mysteriously fell out of the sky in Arkansas on New Year's Eve, it was only natural that Anderson Cooper turned to an expert for an explanation. Enter Kirk Cameron.
The former "Growing Pains" star — a born-again Christian who has appeared in movies based on the end-of-days-themed "Left Behind" books — appeared on "Anderson Cooper 360" to discuss whether he thought the dead birds were a sign of the apocalypse.
"Well, I first think that they ought to call a veterinarian, not me. You know, I'm not the religious-conspiracy-theorist go-to guy, particularly," Cameron said. "But I think it's really kind of silly to try to equate birds falling out of the sky with some kind of an end-times theory."
Chalk it up to the public's fascination with doomsday predictions.
"People love to find codes and signs of future events and see if they can decipher them before anybody else," the 40-year-old actor told Cooper. "But birds falling from the sky? That has to do more with pagan mythology; the direction that the birds flew told some of the followers of some of those legends that the gods were either pleased or displeased with them."
Actually, Cameron seems to be in on the joke, as well. So are we talking about a PUBLIC fascination with apocalyptic gossip or is this actually an insight into the minds of producers who work for Anderson Cooper, in terms of what they think of the interests of the public?
Either way, I find this a bit depressing.
Still, I immediately — as a joke — sent an email about this pop-culture item to a friend of mine at CNN with the subject line: "Now, this is why CNN has a religion blog!" Ha ha, and all that.
Then he fired back: "Good catch."
Thus, you can now click here and gaze in wonderment.
I wrote back: "Dude! I was joking!"
This is the world that we live in, people.
Professor Terry Mattingly writes the nationally syndicated On Religion column for the Scripps Howard News Service in Washington, D.C., which is sent to about 350 newspapers in North America. He's also a regular contributor at GetReligion.org and the author of the book Pop Goes Religion: Faith in Popular Culture.
This entry was posted on Wednesday, January 12th, 2011 at 2:30 pm and is filed under GetReligion.org, On Religion, Religion, Religion and Spirituality, Religion Reporting, Scripps Howard News Service, Terry Mattingly. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.