View from the Pew
PBS show explores faith in the news
Prospective voters applaud or cringe as presidential candidates nudge and dodge faith-related subjects. Opinions on what boundaries are appropriate between religion and politics are all over the map.
Islanders are among the thousands of people heading for the Olympics in China next month. Local folks are amid the crowds in Sydney this weekend to hear Pope Benedict XVI at World Youth Day 2008 festivities. A core of informed and committed people here ache at the awful life of Palestinians and Somalians living in refugee camps. And each of those events have spiritual aspects not often addressed in news reports.
They are just a few of the topics explored recently on the award-winning "Religion & Ethics Newsweekly." PBS Hawaii has joined the 280 public television stations nationwide that carry the weekly newsmagazine show as it begins its 12th season.
The program at 6 p.m. Sundays was slipped onto the KHET schedule this month. No mention of the new addition was made in the monthly PBS Hawaii Magazine. I'm hoping that's because there were several other changes of interest to report, not because of anticipated fallout from people for whom the word "religion" is like a red blanket before a rodeo bull.
Last Sunday, host Bob Abernethy's report on the global food crisis included the effect for church relief groups. He told how China will allow controlled distribution of Bibles at Olympics time, an attempted remedy for its religion-intolerant reputation; however, travelers may not bring in a few extra copies of their own to distribute. He mentioned John McCain's appearance at a right-to-life convention and Barack Obama's campaign forming an interfaith prayer circle.
One special report focused on the French village of Lourdes, marking its 150th anniversary as a pilgrimage destination for people seeking healing. An estimated 6 million people annually attend services and seek water from the well that some believe to be the scene of appearances by Mary, the mother of Jesus.
In another special, a reporter interviewed the Karmapa Lama, 23, who might succeed the Dalai Lama as the international voice for Tibetan Buddhism.
Tomorrow, Abernethy and crew will tackle the division within the worldwide Anglican Communion over issues of homosexuality and interpretation of scriptures as American bishops -- including Hawaii Episcopal Bishop Robert Fitzpatrick -- face the music at the Lambeth Conference in England.
Also featured will be a look into the Chinese tradition of venerating family ancestors by tending their graves and bringing food offerings. And an Illinois police chief will talk about how his faith helped him accept his recent diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease.
It looks like an exciting new resource for people interested in religion, spirituality and ethics or just curious about that dimension in people's lives. Please thank PBS Hawaii President Leslie Wilcox and the board of directors for expanding the horizon of news in Hawaii.