At the end of April 2013, the Rev Rachel Mann, author of Dazzling Darkness: Gender, sexuality, illness and God, gave the 5th Annual St Anselm Lecture, on the topic of social media and faith, at St Anselm Hall, University of Manchester.
Given that the Church of Scotland, like all major Christian denominations, conducts a good chunk of its internal business in public these days (with the boundary between what is 'internal' and what is 'external' increasingly stretched), media and communications can no longer be thought of - if it ever could - as a specialist function alone.
Ekklesia staff, associates and friends have been much in demand on the radio and television recently. Tomorrow (Sunday 24 March 2013), new associate Keith Hebden, an Anglican priest involved in social justice advocacy and the activist network Christianity Uncut, will be appearing on a range of local BBC radio stations across England (7am - 9am), making the case against the government's unpaid 'workfare' mandatory work placement programme.
As politicians fret about the Leveson inquiry and struggle to square the circle of defending a media free from state interference that some argue needs to be better protected by the state from unethical corporate politicking and domination, there is great value in us returning to examine Jesus’ engagement with the a major medium of communication in his day: the Temple. Keith Hebden argues that across the chasm of the centuries, lessons in confronting power and 'domination systems' are there to be learned if we pay proper attention.
The disagreement about Leveson purports to be a debate about 'press freedom'. In those terms, it is monstrously distorted. Powerful interests are disingenuously trying to portray as lingering 'state control' a reasonable attempt to give an arms-length independent regulatory framework legal underpinning as a matter of last resort.
The pressure group Hacked Off, which wants to see the full implementation of key elements of the Leveson inquiry into the operation and ethics of the press in Britain, has denounced last last week's press industry statement on the matter as "deeply misleading".