This post represents a (very, very slow) return/reboot of this site. One task of this site will be to gauge the extent to which academic theology (and, correlatively, theological ethics/moral theology, and religion scholars generally) are recognized or given a voice in mainstream media. While I will attempt this assessment at multiple levels, one level I hope to engage on a regular basis is to provide a theology and media “tracker” of sorts, or a quick survey of theologians and religion scholars who have been cited by mainstream media, particularly print media (and their online iterations). This methodology is far from “scientific,” but over time, I hope to provide a better sense of how visible and relevant theologians and religion scholars are in public discourse and in what context they are given visibility (simply in religion-specific stories or in stories that go beyond to public policy, etc.). That in turn, I hope, will help paint a helpful picture of the status of religious and theological discourse as a public discourse in American life.
For instance, consider the New York Times, from Friday, September 8, 2017, to early afternoon Friday, September 15, 2017:
1. Pope Sees Two Slain Clerics as Martyrs for Peace in Colombia (9/9/17)–this article mentions a theologian at Boston College on Pope Francis’s trip to Columbia.
2. Apocalyptic Thoughts Amid Nature’s Chaos? You Could Be Forgiven (9/8/17)–this article mentions 4 theologians and/or religion scholars in response to hurricanes Harvey, Irma and beyond.
3. Australian Catholic Church Falls Short on Safeguards for Children, Study Finds (9/12/17)–this article mentions 2 religion scholars.
4. Harvey, Irma, Jose and…Noah (9/13/17)–David Brooks mentions 1 Torah scholar and one Jewish theologian.
5. Obituary for Rene Laurentin (9/15/17)–obviously about Laurentin who was a theologian, but a reference to Jacques Maritain.
Based on this brief survey of theologians and religious studies scholars in the NYtimes, let’s say that the theologian-in-the-media index for 9/8/17-9/15/17 is 1.43 (the higher the index, the higher the frequency of media mentions of theologians and religion scholars over a 7 day span–more on this in future posts).
I hope to complete a survey such as this on a weekly or biweekly basis and expand it to other media sources of national readership, such as the Washington Post.