Football, family and … faith? That’s a definite maybe

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If you read GetReligion with any frequency, you know the drill.

We critique mainstream media coverage of religion and often point out holy ghosts in news coverage. What are holy ghosts? Let’s go back to tmatt’s description at the very beginning:

They are facts and stories and faces linked to the power of religious faith. Now you see them. Now you don’t. In fact, a whole lot of the time you don’t get to see them. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t there.

Some of our regular readers understand the concept quite well. In fact, we depend on readers to submit links to stories deserving of attention. Typically, readers provide a few quick takes on the item submitted, and your friendly neighborhood GetReligionistas take it from there.

Then there are readers such as Ken Fallon, whose submission on a front-page Oregonian story says just about everything that needs to be said. (I really hope Ken isn’t trying to take my job. Granted, it’s a part-time gig, and I’m not getting rich off it, but I do enjoy writing for GetReligion.)

Let’s catch a flavor of the 2,500-word Oregonian feature before reviewing Fallon’s analysis:

SPRING BRANCH, Texas – Lawrence Mattison finds it odd that anyone would look up to him.

Not in the literal sense, of course. Strangers often wonder aloud, glancing at the teenager’s 6-foot-1, 230-pound hulking presence, “Is that guy in high school?”

But the little boy who approached Mattison last fall after a Smithson Valley football game caught him off guard when he handed up a picture he had drawn in school, shyly saying, “I wanna be like you, No. 21.”

“To shake a little kid’s hand, to hear him say he wants to be like me, it’s crazy, it’s humbling,” Mattison says. “This kid wants my life?”

Mattison, who signed a letter of intent at Oregon State this month, may be the best running back to ever play at Smithson Valley, a 2,000-student high school on the northern outskirts of San Antonio. But he’s also the kid who slept behind a gas station when he had nowhere else to go, the guy who punched two holes in the wall when he lost his cool, the one who got handcuffed and wondered if he had just blown his chance at a better life.

Seventeen-hundred miles away in Corvallis, Mike Riley and his staff have built a top 25 program where they preach trust, family and relationships. Lots of coaches talk about a family friendly atmosphere but it’s a way of life at Oregon State, where coaches’ children and wives hang out at practice and eat lunch with the players, where it’s not uncommon for Riley to stop a fan outside the Valley Center, put a hand on the person’s shoulder and ask, “Hey, how you doing?” then stick around to hear the answer.

If you have time, go ahead and read the whole thing and then come back for the critique.

In his submission to GR, Ken noted that the profile “hints at matters of faith while managing to avoid exploring them whatsoever.” (Did I already mention the concept of holy ghosts?)

Let’s hear directly from Ken:

[Read more...]

Pod people: Forgiveness is such a simple word

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Forgiveness is such a simple word

But it’s so hard to do when you’ve been hurt 

The above lyrics from Kellie Pickler’s “I Wonder” provide a fitting introduction to this post.

On this week’s Crossroads podcast, host Todd Wilken and I discuss forgiveness and media coverage of it. We focus on two recent GetReligion posts touching on that subject.

The first related to my critique of a St. Louis Post-Dispatch story that opened this way:

STOVER, Mo. — Last Sunday, the Rev. Travis Smith paced First Baptist Church’s sanctuary, decorated for the holidays with poinsettias and a Christmas tree. He addressed his congregation, speaking to them about forgiveness.

Smith read verses from the Gospel of Matthew that follow the Lord’s Prayer:

“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you,” he said.

Since Smith’s arrest in October on sexual abuse and statutory rape charges, which follow similar allegations from 2010, forgiveness from his congregation has become critical to his survival as its pastor. It is this group of about 100 souls — not a bishop, nor a disciplinary committee nor national church leaders at a faraway headquarters — who will decide Smith’s future in the Southern Baptist Convention.

The second concerned my critique of a CBS News report on someone forgiving someone else for — at least based on the news account — some unknown reason.

As my original post noted, that report contained a major ghost.

Also on the podcast, Wilken and I talk about my critique of a USA Today story on a business marketing its products using an R-rated word.

We recorded the podcast before the tragedy in Connecticut, so I was thinking more clearly than I am now. However, I did forget the question about three or four sentences into one long-winded reply — but please don’t tell Wilken!

Anyway, check out the podcast and hug your children.

Ho ho ho and Merry F-word!

On its Money section cover today, USA Today celebrates a business that’s using an R-rated word to market its products during the Christmas shopping season.

The headline in the print edition:

Urban Outfitters swears by naughty holiday catalog

The top of the story:

For Urban Outfitters, the choice of being naughty or nice in its 2012 Christmas holiday catalog was easy: naughty wins.

The edgy apparel seller has shipped out a holiday catalog that’s chock-full of naughtiness, including a $16 “It was f—ing awesome” photo album and a block candle that boldly spells out the f-word in wax. There’s even an $18 “Let’s f—ing reminisce” book.

Just a few years ago, Urban Outfitters might have received some serious, verbal raps on the knuckles from parents and protesters angered by the ultra-spicy language. But in today’s social-media environment, along with those verbal raps, it’s also receiving some surprising kudos from brand and marketing gurus.

“It’s brilliant, explosive, short-term marketing that generates buzz,” says Marian Salzman, a national trend-spotter and CEO of Havas PR. “It’s the right voice for the teen market.”

My first question for GetReligion readers: What do you think of including the majority of that word in print? Does the hyphen-hyphen-hyphen used in place of the missing three letters eliminate the shock value? Or would it be better to put, say, (expletive) in place of the word? Or  — as long as the nation’s newspaper deems the story newsworthy — would anyone advocate printing the entire word?

Speaking of newsworthy, do you consider this story such? Or does it appeal to the lowest common USA denominator?

The story is relatively short — about 400 words — and does not jump inside the Money section. So after reading the first part of the report, I was not overly optimistic that USA Today would bother to quote anyone with concerns about the, um, “ultra-spicy language.”

But to my surprise, the story proceeded to quote both a marketing expert and a Christian activist critical of the approach:

Not everyone is impressed.

“It’s all about getting up on Instagram or someone’s Facebook page,” brand guru Peter Madden says. “But this kind of marketing really isn’t so rebellious. It’s just kind of stupid.”

Worse than that, says Monica Cole, director of the activist Christian group One Million Moms, “it’s tasteless and vulgar.” Her organization, which is affiliated with the American Family Association, isn’t calling for a boycott but is asking its members to think hard before purchasing any Urban Outfitter products. “They’ll be losing business from conservative families,” she says.

Is that enough of the “other side” of the story? In a report this concise, probably so.

At the end of the story, I learned something new (sarcasm intended):

Specifically, to today’s teens, the f-word doesn’t even mean what it means to most adults, Salzman says. It no longer even has sexual connotations, she says. “It’s almost a synonym for ‘give me a break.’”

Would I sound like an old fuddy-duddy if I responded, “No, give me a break!”

Image via Shutterstock

#APStyleChat: Religion style in 140 characters or less

Speaking of totally geeky things to do (“geeky” as in “absolutely awesome”), the folks at @APStylebook organized a Twitter chat this week on religion writing style.

With the hashtag #APStyleChat, the discussion featured guest expert Rachel Zoll, The Associated Press’ national religion writer. AP’s Colleen Newvine described the chat this way:

People sometimes call AP Stylebook the journalist’s bible, but today we’re hosting a Twitter chat on actual religion.

Your friendly neighborhood GetReligionistas were, of course, curious about the chat and followed it as closely as possible while busy solving other world problems. (A side note: The official @APStylebook Twitter page, which has about 122,000 followers, is different from the unofficial @FakeAPStylebook Twitter page, which has nearly 300,000 followers and takes a, hmmmm, tad more irreverent view of journalistic style issues.)

You can check out the entire chat here, but I wanted to highlight a few of the style guidelines advised:

Those all seem like logical, straightforward approaches. The notion of asking a group to define itself fits with GetReligion’s general mantra that reporters should afford religious people the opportunity to explain what they believe and characterize themselves. On the Mormon item, I recall writing a story one time in which I inadvertently capitalized the “Day” after “Latter.” I was quickly corrected by someone who knew better. Evidently, the capitalized “Day” has a specific meaning.

Another tweet hit at the F-word that has been the subject of so many GetReligion posts over the years:

From 1,300 miles away, I am almost certain I heard Terry Mattingly yelling “Amen!” after that tweet.

Finally, there was this style recommendation:

That note prompted this response from one chat participant (a dude with 138,681 tweets to his credit as of this moment… WOW!):

Weird, huh? Actually, I’ve always kind of thought that myself. I don’t know that I’ve ever interviewed someone who referred to a priest as “the Reverend” instead of “Father,” so I wonder why the AP Stylebook recommends that approach (not that the full response would fit in the 140 characters allowed by a tweet). I know that some newspapers veer from that specific AP style as a means of ensuring consistent language in the story text and direct quotes (by calling a priest “Father” in both instances).

What say you, GetReligion readers? Do you agree with the AP style on priests or have any insight on the proper usage? Any comments or questions related to the other style questions that were addressed?

By the way, if you’re not already following @getreligion on Twitter, why not?

The Air Force, faith and a very dangerous ‘f-word’

If anyone is interested, here is an short update on GetReligion’s recent move to Patheos. The RSS feeds seem to be working for the vast majority of users. We are still trying to get some art issues — past and present — worked out. A few tweaks continue, thanks to the patient Patheos staff. Some people think we have moved to a liberal site. Some people think we have moved to a conservative site.

Par for the course. Now that wasn’t so hard, was it?

At least once a day, I have found myself wondering to what degree I need to take into account the fact legions of new readers have not followed the six million words or so published on this blog since 2004. There’s quite a bit of history here, including some insider lingo and subjects that are so familiar that we rarely pause to explain them.

Now then, what we have here (a phrase I use quite a bit, actually) is a perfect example of one of the white stags that we have been hunting for a long time. Yes, your GetReligionistas dream of a day when many mainstream journalists will repent of their sins and decide to heed the following wisdom from the pages of the news bible known as The Associated Press Stylebook:

“fundamentalist: The word gained usage in an early 20th century fundamentalist-modernist controversy within Protestantism. In recent years, however, fundamentalist has to a large extent taken on pejorative connotations except when applied to groups that stress strict, literal interpretations of Scripture and separation from other Christians.

“In general, do not use fundamentalist unless a group applies the word to itself.”

This leads us directly to an oh-so-familiar passage in an NBC News report that, online, ran under the strange headline, “Air Force rules limit size of tattoos, role of gospel.”

So is that the role of the Christian Gospel among inked-up folks or are we talking about the gospel of tattooing? Or neither?

Whatever. This is another update from the religion wars in the U.S. military, a zone in which some evangelical officers do not seem to know how to take no for an answer, when starting discussions of faith, and some activists on the secular left seem to be seriously uncomfortable with equal-access laws and other traces of First Amendment rights among people in uniform (please note the word “traces” in that sentence).

Thus the lede:

Just days before retiring as Chief of Staff of the Air Force, Gen. Norton Schwartz issued a document designed to dictate the conduct of U.S. airmen worldwide — all violations enforceable by military law. For the first time, amid regulations on tattoo size and flag handling etiquette, it laid down the law on religious proselytizing by leaders: Don’t do it.

Section 2.11 of the 27-page Air Force Instruction AFI 1-1 Standards of Conduct is the latest salvo in a battle over religious bias and Christian proselytizing in the military branch. It calls on officers and supervisors to “avoid the actual or apparent use of their position to promote their personal religious beliefs to their subordinates or to extend preferential treatment for any religion.”

Now, if you care about church-state issues, the first thing that pops into mind is the following question: What does “proselytizing” mean?

Well, the story never tells us, which is a big problem. The definitions that can be found with a few clicks of a mouse tell us that this is a word that transcends doctrine and, amazingly enough, even religion.


1. To induce someone to convert to one’s own religious faith.

2. To induce someone to join one’s own political party or to espouse one’s doctrine. … To convert (a person) from one belief, doctrine, cause, or faith to another.

So what is going on here, according to NBC? What does the word “proselytize” mean in this news report? Sure enough, a timely usage of the “f-word” tells us pretty much what we need to know.

As in U.S. public institutions more broadly, there has been a long string of battles between those in the military who want to root out religious content and others, mainly fundamentalist Christians, who argue that to do so impinges on religious freedom.

The conflicts have arisen over military leadership promoting Christian religious meetings through official channels, military courses incorporating Biblical material in coursework, officers trying to convert non-Christians and allegedly favoring “born again” Christians and using Christian doctrine and imagery in logos and official military materials and Christian prayer in official events.

The military has been sued for using Christian doctrine to recruit new members, and pressured to change logos and review course materials that incorporate Christian doctrine, and more recently, those that are anti-Islam. In 2006, after complaints by non-Christians that they were being pressured by evangelicals to convert, the Air Force issued guidelines cautioning superiors from pressing their personal religious views on subordinates. But months later they eased the guidelines after Christian conservatives argued that the guidelines restricted freedom of religion.

In this context, it is almost impossible to figure out what the word “fundamentalist” is supposed to mean. Apparently, in the world of NBC News, Christian doctrines about spreading the faith only apply to the world of Protestant Christianity defined by the Fundamentals of the Faith documents in the early 20th Century.

Please do not misunderstand: There is a serious story here and, based on the reading I have done, there are evangelicals in the Air Force who have abused their powers in the name of evangelism. But there were others who did not, yet appear to have been targeted as wrongdoers.

The key, for journalists, is to connect “faith to facts.” Readers need to know what the words mean and, most of all, they need one or two examples of behaviors that have been ruled out of bounds and those that have not. Like what?

It is wrong for an evangelical officer (or a pagan officer) to do ________.

It is not wrong for an evangelical officer (or a pagan officer) to do ________.

If an active Orthodox Jew invites a secular Jew to a Seder, is that “proselytizing”? If a gay Episcopalian, a chaplain, invites a conservative Anglican of a lower rank, also a chaplain, to a workshop on healing homophobia, is that “proselytizing”?

Like I said, this is a serious story and, when reporting hot-button stories of this kind, it is crucial that reporters talk to informed, qualified voices on both sides of the issues (and some of the folks in the middle, on this one). NBC News did not do that. No way.

Which explains that non-journalistic use of a dangerous “f-word.”

Pod people: Bubba, Mitt and the tie that binds

So, what do Tim Tebow, Jeremy Lin and Bubba Watson have in common?

Now — in terms of journalism — what do those guys have in common with Mitt Romney?

Believe it or not, that’s the rather strange question that, rather to my surprise, surfaced near the end of this week’s “Crossroads” GetReligion podcast.

Well, all four of these men are religious believers and they are all in the news — for sure.

The first three are superstar athletes whose faith have put them front and center in the mainstream press. In each case, they have climbed to levels of success that made them all but impossible for mainstream journalists to ignore.

Thus, journalists have hit them with some heavy words, in today’s tense public square. You know the ones — “devout” and “evangelical” (if not the f-word itself, “fundamentalist”).

Now, it helps that none of these sports guys are hiding their beliefs, from reporters or anyone else. In fact, as I noted the other day, that deep-fried Masters champ Bubba is sticking his evangelistic efforts in front of the world on Twitter. Thus, in a discussion of ESPN coverage of the champ, I wrote:

Perhaps the quickest, most concise way to describe this man is the ready-made soundbite he posted as his bio on his Twitter page. That would be this:

“@bubbawatson: Christian. Husband. Daddy. Pro Golfer. Owner of General Lee 1.”

… Once again we see a basic issue in mainstream news coverage of religious believers in public life: When describing what makes these people tick, isn’t a good thing for journalists to include their own voices as part of the coverage?

In other words, I thought it was strange for journalists to try to write about Bubba Watson THE MAN without including some of his own words on the topic that he himself says is the defining thread that runs through this life — linking his family, his charity work and his golf career.

But there has to be more to this kind of story than one person’s unchallenged voice. Journalists are not audio recording devices that store words and then serve them — public-relations style — to the public. The voices of the people in the news are an essential ingredient in the coverage and it’s bizarre when they are missing.

So, what else links these guys?

That’s where you have another crucial piece of the journalism-coverage puzzle. All too often, we journalists seem to forget — especially when covering athletes (hello Michael Vick) — that, while it may be hard to get inside someone’s head and probe the full content of their beliefs, it is actually rather easy to seek out some of the key facts linked to how believers live their lives.

It would interesting, for example, to know where that Tebow fellow plans to go to church in or around New York City. I would predict that he has already given it some thought. Yes, and he probably is being forced to make privacy and security a part of that equation. I predict that he picks one and that he is an active member. I would imagine that the pastor hopes Tebow is a tither.

My point is that religious lives have public components that can be reported. People rarely sit in pews alone. Pastors and other church leaders may be willing to discuss some aspects of a believer’s life on the record. It is possible to discreetly visit forums in which people share their thoughts and convictions — right out in the open. Once upon a time, reporters learned a lot from listening to a Baptist named Jimmy Carter teach his Sunday School classes (Note to Barack Obama: Even while Carter was living in Washington).

Which brings us to Mitt Romney. Now there’s a man who is unlikely to be tweeting verses of scripture anytime soon. I would imagine that he is not anxious to talk about his own theological convictions, these days.

However, it is valid to ask factual questions about his religious pilgrimage. There may be speeches and Q&A interviews from the past. Mormons, as a rule, tend to have highly detailed (and amazing) track records in terms of philanthropy and public service. Check out this Pew Forum link on that subject.

In other words, it is possible to seek out Romney’s voice and then to probe what one might call the “faith facts” linked to his beliefs. Follow the money. Back up a few decades and follow, so to speak, the event planners of his previous work. Seek journalistic facts, not labels. You are seeking, in the words of the old hymn, not the classic Bruce Springsteen song, the ties that bind (as in “Blessed Be The Tie That Binds”).

By the way, the same approach would work with Obama — past and present. Seek the voice. Seek the public facts about his religious walk. Report the results.

Abortion doc and the F-word

A Los Angeles Times profile this week of a would-be Kansas abortion doctor follows a pretty straightforward path.

It’s as simple as 1-2-3:

1. Brave doc steps in to fill the void left by the slaying of Dr. George Tiller.

2. Brave doc encounters threats and abuse from radical abortion opponents.

3. Brave doc presses forward despite the spooky climate in a state with some of the nation’s most sweeping anti-abortion measures.

The top of the story:

Reporting from Wichita, Kan. — Out near the city’s edge, where fast-food joints and subdivisions seem to spring from farmland overnight, the casualties of an unfinished war sit untouched in a doctor’s basement.

Dr. Mila Means, a 55-year-old solo family practitioner with neon red hair and neo-hippie style, doesn’t remember how or when she heard that Dr. George Tiller had been gunned down in his church.

She knew him only slightly as their paths crossed in medical circles. Mostly, she knew of him — as the lone abortion provider in a city of nearly 400,000, as a symbol of the country’s abortion wars.

After his killing on May 31, 2009, the decision to step into his place did not come as an epiphany but rather over time, with sad reluctance.

The general tenor of the story (read: fawning) aside, I wish the Times had, at least, dealt with the religion ghosts that haunt this report.

The story only vaguely addresses the background and motivation of Means:

In summer 2010, Means began going each weekend to Kansas City, Kan., to learn first trimester abortion procedure. She approached Jeanne Tiller about buying her late husband’s equipment. It cost $20,000, which cut deeply into her practice’s meager budget. She remembers how creepy it felt to walk through Tiller’s boarded up clinic shadowed by his widow’s bodyguard.

The decision marked a full circle for Means, who grew up in Wichita with parents who supported abortion rights. In her 20s, though, she joined a fundamentalist church with a rigid antiabortion stance. Her own beliefs were more ambivalent.

Forgive me for not wanting to take the Times’ word for it, but I’d love to know more about this “fundamentalist” church with the “rigid” anti-abortion stance. By whose definition is it fundamentalist? By whose definition is its abortion stance rigid?

At the same time, the paper fails to quantify Means’ own beliefs — then or now — in any concrete way.

Readers do learn this:

She once applied as medical director of a pregnancy crisis center that talked women out of abortion but said she did not get the job because she could not agree that abortion was never justified. She now sees that time in her life as a passing phase before her politics drifted left.

That’s the full extent of the reporting on Means’ thinking. As a result, the story ends up reading like a hollow puff piece. Did anyone think to ask how her religious views changed, from her days as a would-be crisis pregnancy center worker until today?

Image of Kansas anti-abortion protest via Shutterstock

Is Chaput too Catholic for the Inky?

First things first. Let me state right up front, for GetReligion readers who do not already know, that I have known Archbishop Charles Chaput ever since he was an urban pastor and college campus minister long ago in Denver. The young Franciscan I knew then is still the man who makes headlines from time to time today, especially now that he has moved from Denver to the historic Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

I was a bit surprised to meet a friar who was so intensely interested in mass media — film in particular — and technology, especially the impact of modern media on college students and the young. He was much more interested in trends in media, family life, education and related topics than he was — let’s say — in politics. However, we do live in an age in which it is impossible to discuss the moral theology of the Catholic faith in the public square without getting involved in political debates.

My point is that it is impossible to write about who Chaput actually is without discussing the topics that drive him as a priest and as a bishop. This is easy to do, since he talks about these issues all of the time. Alas, it is also possible to only pay attention to Chaput’s statements that make headlines — which tend to be about issues of moral theology. These statements are viewed as being political statements, pure and simple.

This is clearly what happened in the thin, shallow, all politics, all the time profile that ran recently in The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Note, especially, that this is a lengthy news feature that includes one voice — on the left or the right — that is not completely predictable and partisan. Sure enough, the most interesting material in the story is drawn from that one voice who is not one of the “usual suspects” for a story of this kind. More on that in a minute.

I mean, this is the kind of story that features — read to the end of this passage — the following ID for one outspoken Catholic partisan:

Writing in last Sunday’s Inquirer, he described as “dangerous and insulting” the Obama administration’s mandate that religious-affiliated hospitals, schools, and charities provide employees with free contraception coverage. President Obama’s plan was the most “aggressive attack on religious freedom in our country … in recent memory,” Chaput wrote, lambasting it as “the embodiment of a culture war.”

Taking their cues from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, many other prelates condemned the policy. But Chaput’s attack stood out, eliciting praise from conservative Catholic groups and dismay from church liberals.

“Incendiary and divisive,” said a spokesman for Catholic Democrats, a liberal advocacy group for the poor.

This Catholic Democrats group is a crucial voice in a story of this kind and represents the Catholic left very well — the bookend on the left that, oh, Priests For Life would form on the right. However, as the name implies, it is a honest and openly partisan group. This makes it an “advocacy group for the poor”? This assumes that only doctrinally liberal Catholics care about the poor — which would come as a great shock to, well, the Franciscans or the Missionaries of Charity.

Oh, and “many other prelates” oppose the new regulations from the Obama White House? At this point, it is very hard to find a Catholic bishop — left, right or center — who has not opposed them.

It would be very easy to pick away at the slanted and, at times, inaccurate language in much of this report. Most of the time, however, readers are dealing with sins of omission rather than commission. For example, on one highly controversial issue:

In 2006, Chaput drew national attention for his denunciation of legislation to expand the right of Colorado sex-abuse victims to sue their abusers, denouncing its advocates as “anti-Catholic.”

“It was about as ugly a political fight as I’ve been involved with at the Capitol,” one lobbyist said.

And why did the archbishop call this bill “anti-Catholic”?

Now, this is complex and controversial terrain, but it really would have helped for readers to know that — at the center of the fight — was debate about whether the legislation would, in effect, merely lengthen the statute of limitations for case involving THE CHURCH, as opposed to cases involving public institutions with unique legal advantages — such as accusations against public-school districts (which were fiercely protected under Colorado law by immunity from truly damaging civil law suits).

And so forth and so on.

I also found it interesting that the Inky didn’t follow up — zip, zero, nada — on this rather revealing quote from a previous Chaput interview. The archbishop declined to be interviewed by the Inquirer, which says quite a bit in and of itself.

Though a hero to many conservatives, Chaput has taken shots from all sides. “The left mail I get will use terrible words but be less vitriolic. They use the F-word and things like that,” he told Catholic News Service in 2009. “The right is meaner, but they’re not as foul.”

That’s interesting. On what issues has Chaput taken heat from the political and cultural right? I would assume his stances on immigration, the death penalty, health care for the poor, etc., etc. How would Inquirer readers know that? It appears that those details would have muddied the picture in this article.

Meanwhile, what about that one interesting, insightful and non-partisan voice? Remember this guy?

Stephen Schneck, director of the Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies at Catholic University of America, took a more temperate view.

“He’s distinctive among the American bishops in his ability to make certain kinds of arguments,” said Schneck, who called Chaput “an extremely talented prelate.”

“But there’s a twist,” Schneck said. Chaput “sometimes speaks so clearly and with such force that it’s more a conversation-stopper than an invitation to discourse, and that might work against his ultimate effectiveness.”

That’s interesting. Might Schneck have an example or two to discuss and dissect? Apparently not.

Maybe some other time. The folks driving the bus on this story already knew where they were going.

VIDEO: A rather typical mini-sermon from the archbishop, drawn from the funeral Mass for Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua.