Monday, January 7, 2008

Noteworthy News, or Not Worthy?

I understand people’s skepticism about these visual manifestations of religious icons. Many of them, like this Virgin Mary tree in Jacksboro, Texas, are pretty tough to see, even for those with saintly vision. But as I have written in Madonna of the Toast, and time and time again here (and believe wholeheartedly) the real power of these events is that people do see these figures, and take the time to react to them: traveling across town or the country, taking photos, bringing the kids, erecting shrines of candles and rosaries.

And of course, these actions attract media attention, but what blows my mind is that these stories, as presented by journalistic outlets, often have little to no information about the object in question. So, I found out about this story from Philadelphia's NBC 10, and it is the same very brief clip that is picked up by NBC affiliates all over the country, but details are sparse, to say the least. We know that the tree can be found in a state park and that people are leaving flowers and praying. The faithful can see Mary somewhere in the exposed trunk. And that’s it.

It hardly seems that the details matter at all; rather what the media likes to keep at the forefront of people’s minds is the fact that these sacred shapes appear all over the place, and quite frequently. It certainly says something about the relationship between the people that create the news and those who try to keep up with it. Do any of you have any thoughts about this?

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