Good News in Bad shape?
Peace to men of Good Will and Good News personified in Jesus form the central message of Christmas fast approaching.
All Christian media, including Almayasabdam claim to be bearers of the good news. Then how is it there is no good loving collaboration among them? Nay why do some consider others as bearers of bad news? It could only be due to the infallibility complex afflicting most of them which make them feel right and others wrong.
Infallibility looks down to talk down to people to teach. Docility prompts one to look up to listen and learn from all. The second is central to any healthy dialogue between publications and their readers and between publications themselves
Who is the target audience of Almayasabdam? First of all, I think, it is the hierarchical church which it wants to reform, secondly it is the unthinking laity who just pray, pay and obey, thirdly it is the thinking sections who are dissatisfied with both, fourthly it is publications who act solely as the mouth piece of the hierarchy or any vested interest group among the laity and black out unpalatable truths. The number of bridges Almayasabdam succeeds to build with these different groups alone can be the measure of its success.
Promote Healthy Dialogue
Take the first. Has it succeeded to start a healthy dialogue with the Hierarchical church or its mouthpiece publications during the one year of its existence? If not who is at fault? This should be food for thought for both. Is there any use prolonging an endless monologue? Of course one should never give up hope.
Good news has to be about the whole truth which involves also unpleasant or inconvenient truth to be rectified. All heartily welcome the pleasant and flattering news. Only the honest, humble and boldly docile will listen with equanimity to criticisms tearing you to pieces. I myself have felt ill at ease when that happened although I request from readers to do me the service of a devil’s advocate if they can, since I am convinced only that can help me improve.
It is in this art of taking criticisms sportingly rather than offering them boldly and unsolicited that all publishers should try to excel, especially those who call themselves “Catholic” publications. I put catholic in quotes because I am of a different view. I argued and gave ten reasons why Catholic Press must die, at the 9th international Conference of the Catholic Press in Luxemburg, too long to narrate here. .
Here I only want to high light the necessity of having a Rhinoceros skin for all journalists, especially the editors of all Catholic or better church sponsored publications. A recent example will explain better.
India’s three national Catholic weeklies in English used to be New Leader (NL) from Chennai, Examiner from Bombay and Herald from Calcutta. NL used to be a weekly but lately became a fortnightly. On the occasion of completing its 125 year journey on Dec. 5, 2012, it invited messages from those associated with it and published 28 of them starting from Pope downwards to me at the bottom. While asking for a message, I got written assurance that they would publish what I write, since I had bad experience of getting my writings mutilated to suit their taste. So I sent the following message:
Be a Leader, Not a Follower!
Shine as LEADER where you are giving wings to GOOD NEWS to reach the ends of the Earth, is my message for you completing 125 years.
That I happened to be the NL editor in 1960s could have been the only reason for asking this message, as I have not been lucky to get published any of my articles sent, which I thought would benefit NL readers
Jubilees stress number of years lived. What should matter is how well one lives. It is better to die like a war horse than to live like an ass, they say. Its counter is: A living ass is better than a dead horse. Jesus our role model lived only 3 years of public life and died like a hero in the thick of battle. So he lives for ever. He had no time for jubilees. It is for one to chose between the two.
News is not news if it is not new. So my first wish for the NL is that it becomes a weekly, even a daily and not retreat into a fortnightly or a monthly, to deal with the signs of the times today, not yesterdays. One is growth, the other decline.
NL’s mission is to cultivate a healthy public opinion in church and society that revels in free speech and right to know. So my second wish is that it imitates Jesus speaking from house top to a similar world and not cultivating a culture of silence on critical issues of today. Had Jesus kept his blessed mouth shut he would not have died so young.
I stop as I have to limit myself to 350 words. If the Editor and readers wish I shall send you the policy statement of NL: THE WHOLE TRUTH IN CHARITY, published in the sixties, which made the NL shoot into lime light as a sign for the rise and fall of many, as the bitter-sweet TRUTH that hurts and heals. Leadership is dying for one’s convictions. Jesus did just that.
Dec.15th NL published the following mutilated version:
That I happened to be the NL editor in 1960s could have been the only reason for asking this message. Jubilees stress number of years lived. What should matter is how well one lives. Jesus our role model lived only 3 years of public life and died like a hero. So he lives for ever. He had no time for jubilees. NL’s mission is to cultivate a healthy public opinion in church and society that revels in free speech and right to know. So my second wish is that it imitates Jesus speaking from house top to a similar world and not cultivating a culture of silence on critical issues of today. Had Jesus kept his blessed mouth shut he would not have died so young.
Away with Afghanistanism
The sum and substance is that Jubilees have come to mean that we make others say what we like to hear – untruths, half truths and downright flatteries – and take delight and pride in them. This is most unbecoming for anyone who claims to be a follower of Jesus who came to bear witness to unvarnished whole truth. Nor is it what the ethics of journalism prescribes. Voltaire’s statement on freedom of expression: “I will go the whole hog to defend your right to say what you think even when I may not agree one bit of what you say,” should be the rule for the journalist.
Jesus never minced his words to please people or get praise from others. His policy was to speak from “house tops”, transparency unlimited for all to see and hear. Today for his followers “frankly speaking” has come to mean we are outrageously frank when the matter dealt with is about far off people and places but totally silent when they are about ourselves and those near and dear to us. In journalistic parlance this is called “Farther Franker View” or “Afghanistanism”.
For the western world Afghanistan is very far away and they wax eloquent on unflattering things about it. This eloquence sinks to zero when the topic happens to be about them. No one is interested in “nearer franker view” on unflattering happenings. In journalism it is anathema and double talk. So away with Afghanistanism. Promote, we all must, “Frankly speaking” whether it is about things far away or near at home. To the intelligent as the Latin saying goes (Intelligenti pauca) few words are enough. One need not explain where, when and how to apply.
With Warm Regards,
Dr. James Kottoor,
Dr. James Kottoor,