One delightful way to begin a morning filled with an awareness of God’s holy presence and awesome power is to participate in the Morning Prayer service, via podcast, of the Episcopal Church of Garrett County, Maryland. The 14-minute service of worship includes Scripture readings and prayers, a general confession, the Apostles Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, and more. You will find this service each morning at: www.episcopalchurchingarrettcounty.org/morningprayer
IN THE NEWS
Now and then God seems to move someone in the news profession to devote their gifts of communication to advance his work without charge. Following are some of the news stories published during the past few years about the work that God is doing through our efforts.
MEDIA, MASTERY, AND IDENTITY
(by Oliver O’Donovan)
The distinctive feature of the media is its immediacy, keeping us in touch with what is unfolding — with the “new,” the just-having-come-to-be, the past horizon of the present, not the past in its narrative depth, as tradition. What we expect of the media is to typify our reactions, to impose familiar appearances upon the unheard-of, to ensure a process of routinisation of news.
Why are our first impressions of events so important to us? It is because we feel our identities to be at stake. History and tradition, from which we derive identity, have to be brought up to the moment. Because we have the power to communicate news quickly and widely, we are on edge about it, afraid that the world will change behind our backs. It is a measure of our metaphysical insecurity, which is the constant driver in the modern urge for mastery.
This is what interprets us to ourselves, makes us feel at home with ourselves, represents the deeds and words we read as those of friends or enemies, moulds us into a common identity, teaches us to see ourselves as part of a shared struggle, all quite independently of what we are, what we do, what we suffer, who we share our lives with.
If “new every morning” is the tempo of divine grace and the tempo of our personal responsibilities, it is because the morning is a time when one can look back intelligently and look forward hopefully. The media’s “new every morning” (quickly becoming “new every moment”) is in flat contradiction to that daily offer of grace. It serves rather to fix our perception upon the momentary now, preventing retrospection, discouraging deliberation, holding us spellbound in a suppositious world of the present which, like hell itself, has lost its future and its past.
Oliver O’Donovan FBA is Professor Emeritus of Christian Ethics and Practical Theology at the University of Edinburgh, and he formerly served as Regius Professor of Moral and Pastoral Theology at the University of Oxford. These paragraphs are condensed from Fulcrum (October 16, 2015), which extracted a chapter from O’Donovan’s Finding and Seeking: Ethics as Theology, Volume 2.