Fox forces the Mass into Christmas

A friend put this picture up on Google+ (so I guess that answers the question of whether people still use Google+!). Around the same time, a reader submitted this story from Fox News, headlined:

Church devastated by super storm Sandy looks forward to Christmas mass 

At first I thought the reader submitted it because of the redundancy of calling worship on Christ’s Mass a “mass.” But that’s not why it was submitted, although it’s related to that issue.

For years The Oasis Christian Center had been a gathering place for the residents of Midland Beach, on the Eastern shore of Staten Island, New York.

“We’ve done our best,” Pastor Tim McIntyre said, “to reach our community with God’s love through food pantry and children’s programs, youth programs as well as our Sunday service.” …

McIntyre saw his church the day after the super storm. He says he didn’t think it would ever open its doors again, much less in time for Christmas mass.

Oasis Christian Center? Pastor Tim McIntyre? Mass?

The Mass is “the celebration of the Eucharist.” It is a term most commonly used by Roman Catholics, although other sacramental church bodies also use the term. Is Oasis Christian Center one of those?

I reviewed the quotes in the article and the church’s web site and I never found any mention of a Mass, Divine Service, Eucharist, Holy Communion, Communion, sacrament or the like.

Instead, there is information such as this:

What kind of church are we?

Oasis is a nondenominational church that is Biblical in practice and charismatic in expression. We are a Christ-centered community of faith that believes we have a mandate from heaven to be the hands and feet of Jesus Christ in our community.

We choose not be contentious about the non-essentials of the Christian faith, which version of the Bible we read, spiritual gifts, predestination, etc. There are a number of secondary beliefs that the leadership of Oasis is passionate about. Complete agreement is not required for those who choose to worship with us, but it should be known that we will preach, teach, and counsel in accordance with these theological convictions. It is important that we are all striving to diligently preserve unity and peace concerning these secondary beliefs.

It’s pretty clear that this is just a straight up error by the reporting. But it is somewhat funny, at least.

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  • Interesting catch. Yes, somebody was pushing it, probably trying for snappy-sounding copy at the expense of accuracy.

    But I wish you had chosen a different graphic. I was fascinated by the idea that Oasis had such a nicely-turned-out altar, complete with tabernacle. “Wow,” I thought, who are these people and why haven’t I heard about them?” And, more importantly, “With an altar like that, maybe they really do call it Mass, and represent a radical departure in free-church practice. This is news!” Then, after several minutes of this — minutes, because I’m apparently not the sharpest tack in the bulletin board — I figured out that it was just one of those Facebook memes, and turned a bright Christmas-y red.

  • Will

    This is one thing the media persistently do not get. I recall a story in an advertising trade periodical which led off by saying that “the country’s Catholics and Baptists have in common concerns about marketing mass.”

  • Julia

    I seem to remember also seeing this on NBC. A facility called a Christian center offering Mass? I used the TIVO so I could see that report twice. Yup. That’s what they said, but it seemed to be coming from the reporter not the minister who had been interviewed.

    But I did see on FOX News that Pope Benedict offered prayers TO the victims & families in Sandy Hook. Doh!
    Catholics offer prayers TO God FOR people. It was on the banner at the bottom of the screen as well as being said by the anchor more than once, but not on the FOX News website.

  • Thomas A. Szyszkiewicz

    I’m not sure why the GetReligion style seems to be making “Mass” in reference to what Catholics do lower-case. To me, it’s very confusing. “Fox forces the mass into Christmas” The “mass” of what? The mass of presents, cookie dough, candle wax? OK, so I am a partisan in this since I am Catholic, but for the sake of simple clarity “Mass” over “mass.”

    The 1987 AP Stylebook (yes, I still have one) has “Mass” and says, “It is celebrated, said or sung. Always capitalize when referring to the ceremony, but lowercase any preceding adjectives: high Mass, low Mass, requiem Mass.
    “In Eastern Orthodox churches, the correct term is Divine Liturgy.”

    What has changed in the intervening 25 years? It seems to me to be an effort on the part of the secular press to say that the “Mass” really isn’t that big of a deal so they’ll just consign it to the “mass” of people.

    And if this has been addressed before, I apologize for bringing it up again — I may have missed it.

    • mollie

      No, you’re right. AP style is still Mass. It was just me firing a post off quickly and was (not even consistently, you’ll note) following the Fox News style. I’ll fix.

      • Thomas A. Szyszkiewicz

        Thanks, Mollie. But that still leaves me curious as to why many news outlets don’t follow AP style.

        • mollie

          I do think it’s a bit counter-intuitive to capitalize. I don’t know if people have official style guides that forbid it (it’s capitalized in the dictionary, too).
          In my Lutheran church, we capitalize everything but mostly that’s because many of our words come out of German.
          We’ve written before on the topic of failure to capitalize Mass (making it all the more shameful that I miffed this one!).

          • Gail Finke

            I’m 48. When I was a child I was taught to capitalize “Mass” and the words “He,” “You,” “Him,” etc. when they referred to God. That was in public school. I am interested to know that AP still says to capitalize “Mass” as the Catholic Church doesn’t bother to — and the new translation of the Mass (I still capitalize all those words) uses a lower-case “c” for “catholic” in the Creed — but capitalizes the “b” in “baptism”:
            “I believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church,
            I confess one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins…”
            I don’t really get their reasoning, except that maybe they are bishops and not copy editors.

  • Chris

    Catholic words and images are recognizable short hand used by the media and Hollywood.

    Southern-accented preachers using stereotypical “Christian” words is Hollywood shorthand for “bad” Christian.

  • Ed

    The creed’s ‘catholic’ with a small ‘c’ rather than capitalized seems like a gesture toward ecumenism. The Nicene creed predates all the various splits in Christendom, and is shared by Rome, the East, and most of Protestantism. This lower-case character denotes the Church’s inclusive catholicity (universality) under one Lord, rather than emphasizing the exclusion of all those who ‘don’t use our brand.’ It’s also more consistent with the creed as first handed down at Nicaea.

  • Julia

    Gail: It’s complicated. The Catholic Church does still capitalize Mass to set it apart from the other meanings of the word in the Anglosphere. It was capitalilzed in Latin at the end of Mass in my 1955 missal. – “Ite, Missa est” = “Go, you are dismissed”. Supposedly, the English moniker for the service comes from “Missa”.
    But the translation today for the New Mass is different:
    Dismissal Dismissal
    P: The Mass is ended, go in peace. P: Ite, missa est.
    I wondered why the translations were so different and checked at the old Catholic Encyclopedia.
    Turns out the phrase “Ite, missa est” is from very, very ancient times and puzzling because it did not seem to make sense. One thought is that a word was accidentaly dropped and it really did mean the phrase that is now used in English, but maybe not. So if “missa” has to do with being dismissed, no need to capitalize it, but if “Missa” means the Mass, then it should be capitalized. But if that were so, then there would be capitalization of the Latin word now and should not have been back in my 1955 Missal.
    On the other hand, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops now says that “missa” is related to the word “mission” and that the assembly is being told “Go, she—meaning you, the Church—has been sent” out into the world . The Latin word is not capitalized, but the English word “Mass” is capitalized.
    It’s a puzzlement that does not seem to have been completely settled. Whether the Latin word, from which it is derived, is related to being dismissed or being sent on a mission, the word for the liturgy should be capitalized as “Mass” even though the Latin word “missa” is usually not.