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Thought for the weekend: 'I decided to start an online subscription to a national daily newspaper'

Allen Sleith


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'But while I've been somewhat converted to an online newspaper, I'm more resistant to many forms of social media.' (PA)

'But while I've been somewhat converted to an online newspaper, I'm more resistant to many forms of social media.' (PA)

PA

'But while I've been somewhat converted to an online newspaper, I'm more resistant to many forms of social media.' (PA)

Early in the pandemic, when going to the shops was a rare and risky thing, I decided to start an online subscription to a national daily newspaper.

I'd dithered for some time, weighing up cost and convenience and other factors, but the relative safety of not going out to buy a paper and reducing skin contact to a minimum won out.

It's been a good decision in the circumstances, but for all that, I still prefer a hard copy of reading material if given the choice.

But while I've been somewhat converted to an online newspaper, I'm more resistant to many forms of social media.

They often act as echo chambers to pre-conceived ideas, feeding prejudice, trying to undermine respectful dialogue between genuine experts and consequently resulting in real harm.

My conviction is that other media have more to offer; books, articles and essays by authors who have taken the time to research their subject offering the rest of us the fruit of their findings and reflections.

Nor is this confined to the written word: think of the wonderful films, documentaries, plays, music and artefacts that inspire, educate and enrich.

Last week, I sent an email to an academic whose writings have long done that for many, including me.

Larry Rasmussen is the Reinhold Niebuhr Professor of Social Ethics Emeritus, Union Theological Seminary, New York City, now living in retirement in New Mexico.

I wrote to thank him for the influence his work has had on me, soon after receiving a warm and appreciative reply, beginning a dialogue on shared areas of interest.

His writings on Dietrich Bonhoeffer, biblical ethics and economic policy had already gained him acclaim, but it's his work on ecological issues, or, better still, eco-theology, which has cemented his reputation.

Early next year, poignantly, only by virtual means, he will be awarded the 2021 Lifetime Achievement Award by the Society of Christian Ethics.

While others may try to solve our many local and global problems with assault rifles and double-barrelled shotguns, Rasmussen responds, instead, with probably the two best books on eco-theology yet written: Earth Community, Earth Ethics, and Earth-Honoring Faith.

Arm yourself with these and you might well find yourself conscripted to a just, peaceful and beautiful revolution for our seriously imperilled planet.

Belfast Telegraph


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