Yeasting the Public Debate with Good News – part 1

In an age where the public discussion is prominently located and shaped in the media, we have the opportunity to imaginatively express a timeless truth that really is good news for society. Marijke Hoek in chapter 11 of Carnival Kingdom advocates that the creative use of the media can draw attention to structural dysfunction, raise public awareness and awaken its conscience. Critically, such public engagement is an effective way to communicate how our faith motivates us to develop a more just and compassionate way of life.

Here are some snippets from her chapter in the book:-

Novelist, journalist and leading writer of the Victorian era, George Eliot, perceived that the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistorical acts by people who lived faithful hidden lives. Living out the radical nature of Jesus’ teaching requires a lifestyle of costly, selfless, loving acts of daily commitment to peace and justice – in the playground, workplace, family and community. It demands a daily walk of mercy, humility and justice reflecting Christ’s reign that invades the world, not hindered by our ‘weakness’ but rather displayed in it.”

The Christian voice needs to be heard in philosophical reflection, in artistic and literary expressions such as poetry, rap, lyrics, comedy, story, paintings, prose, and film. Thus, we creatively mix and mingle with the discussion. As the late Bishop of Liverpool, David Sheppard, rightly argued, if we do not take part in the public debate, the debate will go on without us. By opting in we communicate our worldview, offer an alternative, speak on behalf of the voiceless and hold out a hope for a better tomorrow

Noam Chomsky, Professor of Linguistics and Philosophy, argues that in a fractured society the creation of more open public spaces is vital in the growing of communities of mutual support and democratic interchange. The reconstruction of local media is a critical avenue for such reform. Community-based media outlets engage the broader sectors and give people a reason to feel that they can be a part of the formation of communities, dealing with interesting topics that are part of their lives, giving them an opportunity to give their view. Whether that is a local radio in inner city Moss Side or in the suburbs of Rio, the inclusion of all voices is vital in shaping a just society.”

Marijke Hoek is co-ordinator of the Forum for Change, which explores how the Christian community can be active in key change drivers in our culture such as education, politics, media, arts, business, and sports and can thereby contribute to society’s wellbeing. She is a regular contributor on BBC Manchester and part of the adjunct faculty of Regents Theological College. Marijke co-edited the book Micah’s Challenge: The Church’s Responsibility to the Global Poor (Paternoster, 2008).

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