What M.Z. said: Doctor Who vs. Jesus at BuzzFeed?

First things first: Yes, I am a big Doctor Who fan.

Thus, I find the role that the whole “Whovian” phenomenon plays in the following M.Z. Hemingway post to be fascinating, to say the least.

Nevertheless, suffice it to say that I think our beloved Divine Mrs. M.Z. nails this one and, yes, this is clearly a case of serious religious content giving some journalists sweaty palms.

So, I’ll simply say, “What M.Z. said.” And does the top of her post — at The Federalist, of course — sound kind of familiar here in the context of GetReligion.org? Take that double-decker headline, for example:

Why Is Religion Invisible To The Media?

A 12-year-old girl wrote herself a note before she died. It contained an amazing message of hope and redemption. That was before the media got to it.

And here is the top of the M.Z. manifesto. You really need to read it on their site to get the impact of the URLs, embedded tweets, etc.

Seven in 10 Americans identify as “very religious” or “moderately religious,” according to a recent Gallup survey. Each week, hundreds of millions of Americans go to houses of worship, pray, or just ponder the higher things related to our religious views. But it’s not news that this religious reality is not well reflected in our media.

There is some great work being done by mainstream media outlets, but much room for improvement. For those of us who are religious, we notice the weird way the media handles religion news and religious topics. We see it every time a broadcaster interviews someone live and stumbles when the subject mentions something religious. We see it in the egregious mistakes the New York Times makes about basic teachings of the Christian faith. We see it in the unmasked disdain for religious people.

But usually the media treatment of religious people and their religious views isn’t so much hostile as absent. We may not be invisible to them, but our religious views certainly are. I thought of this when I came across an interesting BuzzFeed post titled “After The Death Of Their 12-Year-Old Daughter, Parents Find The Letter She Wrote To Her Future Self.”

So here is how BuzzFeed summed up the crucial element of 12-year-old Taylor Smith’s epistle to her future self. The quotes from “Tim” are from her father, of course:

As he put it, she was awesome. “She was random, she was smart,” Tim said. “She was super funny and super fun.” Not to mention nerdy. Past Taylor wanted to make sure Doctor Who was still on the air. And if not at least wanted to know what number regeneration they ended on. And if it wasn’t on TV anymore, she wanted her future self to go watch it right away. After she finished reading the letter, of course. “She liked doing quirky things and she liked doing meaningful things, she always created stuff,” Tim said. “The fact that she wrote this letter wasn’t a surprise, but what she wrote was.”

So Doctor Who is at the heart of this.

M.Z., however, looked at various images of the young girl’s letter — as included in the BuzzFeed post — and pieced together this rather revealing (to say the least) passage in her epistle to her future self:

“I didn’t get to go to that party, though, because I was in Cranks, Kentucky for my first mission trip. I’ve only been back for 6 days! Speaking of, how’s your relationship with GOD? Have you prayed, worshipped, read the bible, or gone to serve the lord recently? If not, get up and do so NOW! I don’t care what point in our life we’re in right now, do it! He was mocked, beaten, tortured and crucified for you! A sinless man, who never did you or any other person any wrong! Now, have you gone on any more mission trips?”

Surely there was a way to weave this girl’s obvious Christian beliefs — she is, in effect, trying to evangelize her future self, just in case she has strayed from the faith — with her quirks and her smarts? I mean, a girl can be all of that, right? She can be a quirky, brilliant, Doctor Who-fan Christian?

Take it away, M.Z. Read it all, including the Twitter dialogue with BuzzFeed leaders.

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About tmatt

Terry Mattingly directs the Washington Journalism Center at the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. He writes a weekly column for the Universal Syndicate.


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