GetReligion was launched around the idea of ghosts — religious aspects to stories that went unexplained or ignored. Sometimes those ghosts are very straightforward. Sometimes they’re more about subtext and nuance. In this week’s Crossroads podcast, we discuss some of the lingering ghosts surrounding that provocative New York Times celebration of a marriage built on the failure of two previous marriages.
That this caused such outrage among readers indicates that the marital norms of fidelity and monogamy still mean something in this culture. That’s not necessarily religious, but religious institutions, values and cultures certainly are part of the story — the larger story about marriage, at least. I propose that the reaction to this story suggests that the way marriage has typically been covered — as the ultimate expression of personal happiness — might have caught the New York Times off guard.
I still have no idea why it was this story — and not the countless other stories that embrace the “personal happiness” motif — bothered people so much.
We also discuss that wonderful NPR story about the history and evolution of Christmas carols. It’s a great example of how a particular media — the radio broadcast — can bring a story to life with the perfect balance of editing, audio clips and expert sourcing. My favorite anecdote was about how “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” was originally written to mark the 400th anniversary of the Gutenberg press. In fact, “Hark the Herald” was originally where you’d sing “Gutenberg” and composer Felix Mendelssohn thought it would never work as a sacred tune. I love it.
Enjoy the podcast and have a wonderful Christmas!