LOL! Pope vs. Dan BrownTERRY MATTINGLY
Want to laugh until your head explodes?
OK, that's a slight exaggeration. Still, with that new Dan Brown book on the loose, people here in Washington, D.C., are jumpy. We could all use a laugh.
So, for your reading pleasure, I offer what may be the most ridiculous thing that I have read in a major newspaper in a long, long time (and folks, that's saying something). We are, of course, talking about a story linked to the public-relations gambit that Brown has taken to the bank millions and millions of times. The New York Daily News serves up a pretty standard pop-culture earthquake fluff piece about the secrecy surrounding the book until we hit this:
Don't you just love it when mainstream journalists write in passive voice?
This is, of course, the amazingly flexible grammatical device that allows a reporter to claim that Pope Benedict XVI -- after decades of work as a theologian and after writing shelves full of books, both scholarly and devotional -- actually sat at his desk one day and exclaimed, "Behold! This Dan Brown guy is a threat to the faith of the apostles and the martyrs! I had better write a book real quick to do something about this dangerous man."
How would a reporter source such a wild claim, other than by making use of a small puff of grammatical fog? Who is being quoted here? Can anyone find a single voice of authority in the Vatican or perhaps a major scholar who has studied the work of Pope Benedict XVI who would make such a claim?
It's hard to Google such a concept, because the search terms are so, so, popular. Go ahead. Do a search for "Jesus, Dan Brown, Benedict XVI" and have fun doing some surfing for relevant material. If you find anything that backs up this factual statement in the Daily News, something that is not written in passive voice, please let me know.
Hat tip? Diogenes, of course.
Terry Mattingly, "LOL! Pope vs. Dan Brown."Get Religion.org (September 15, 2009).
Reprinted by permission of GetReligion.org and Terry Mattingly. The original posting of this article is here.
Terry Mattingly writes the nationally syndicated "On Religion" column for the Scripps Howard News Service in Washington, D.C. He is the director and writes for Get Religion. He is also the director of the Washington Journalism Center at the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. He is the author of the book "Pop Goes Religion: Faith in Popular Culture." In addition to his classroom duties, Mattingly lectures at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, Mass., the Torreys Honors Program at Biola University, the School of Journalism at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, Baylor University in Waco, Texas, and in other settings across the nation. Terry Mattingly and his wife Debra have two children, Sarah Jeanne, and Frye Lewis. The Mattinglys are members of Holy Cross Orthodox Church in Linthicum, Md.
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