A QandA Recap

The Age is right to publish Neil McMahon’s Qanda recap under ‘entertainment’, for it doesn’t belong under ‘news’ or anything resembling fair and factual reporting.

According to McMahon, Magda Szubanski is an angel, in contrast to  the rest of the panel who are presumably on the devil’s payroll.

I’m not having a go at Magda Szubanski and her contribution last night, but McMahon’s near superhuman selective hearing.

If you’ve only read McMahon’s offering in The Age, you’d be forgiven for thinking that last night’s QandA served up another staple diet of stupid Christians and thoughtful atheists, annoying anti-SSM campaigners and human heart beating advocates. I’m sure McMahon’s regulars will read his account with cheers, but for others who watched last night’s program, we are left wondering, through which smokey haze did he view Qanda?

QandA has gained a reputation for too often lacking finesse and nuance from its guests, but last night each panellist brought a healthy degree of intellectual argument touched with humility and empathy.

 

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The entire program was dedicated to issue of same sex marriage, and important questions were asked, and all 4 panellists offered (for the most part) substantive comments and arguments, and yet McMahon fails to even acknowledge any of this.

McMahon latches onto one comment made by Karina Okotel, which was certainly less than convincing, but he concludes that she must be either lying or is at the very least untrustworthy in what she says,

“Okotel is a challenge in this debate: an all-smiling and apparent voice of reasonableness adept at speaking out of both sides of her mouth like the lawyer she is.”

Sure, she fluffed her answer, but it’s not as though there isn’t a clear and important response to this question (cf. https://murraycampbell.net/2017/09/02/fathers-day-telling/).

McMahon also completely ignores one important fact check from the episode, namely when Magda Szubanski repeated the old time myth of 10%. Alfred Kinsey’s now debunked study has nonetheless taken the status of undeniable truth for some in the community. After all, the temptation to inflate favourable numbers is understandable. According to most research, the real number of Australians who variously identify as LGBTI is closer to 2-4%. And according to the 2016 Census, 0.39% of Australians are living in a same sex relationship. Belonging to a small number doesn’t alter the humanity and worth of these Australians, but I would have thought that presenting misinformation isn’t helpful, no matter which side of a debate you are presenting.

Magda’s personal testimony is important and worth listening to. We (speaking to Christians here) do need to listen to such voices. It’s also worth hearing how she understands what Churches are saying about marriage. There are moments when Glenn Davies tries to correct some of her assumptions, without success it would seem, but the interaction does communicate something of the mishearing that is going on in our society.

If there was a “powerful” moment in last night’s program, surely it was Archbishop Glenn Davies stating that should holding Jesus’ view of marriage be declared unfit in Australians society, he would be prepared to go to jail. He would accept the democratic processes of our nation, but is not prepared to change his convictions even in face of imprisonment. But not even worthy of a footnote for McMahon.

Perhaps someone needs to give Neil McMahon their hearing aid, but then again, I’m sure he knows what he’s doing. Photoshopping reality is sadly a far to common tool of the trade in journalism today. Journos from all sides are guilty of doing this as they win the applause of their facebook groupies. Let’s be honest, this is not only a journalist problem, but we see it among our politicians, and we even see it in ourselves. We may rightly object to the selectivity and agenda bogged journalism that’s muddying our media, but at the same time, we ought to ask the same about our own proclivities. 

 

The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge,
    for the ears of the wise seek it out.” (Proverbs 18:15)

Oprah in Melbourne, Star Wars, and Jesus

By the sounds of it, Oprah Winfrey’s show in Melbourne last night was even more painful and pointless than anticipated. I simultaneously laughed at and felt sorry for Neil McMahon as I read his review on his evening at Rod Laver Arena with Oprah.

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In his summary McMahon mentioned some highlights from Oprah’s two hour sermon (and who ever said that preachers in church should preach less!):

“My heart is my brand.”

“Anything is possible if you keep your vibrational energy high.”

“The intention is why you’re sitting here tonight.”

 “Many of you here are frustrated and sick and stalled and scared and maybe even just tired … It doesn’t matter because you’re still here. This is your second chance.”

“Take your glory, Melbourne. Take your glory and run!”

I’m not sure if Oprah sounds more like Joel Osteen or the Dalai Lama, but one thing is sure, such empty bravado ain’t going to help anyone.

It ought to stand out to us how outside the Oprah bubble, media are today reporting important and often dreadful stories, including another mass shooting in America, Boko Haram kidnappings, ISIL, Syria, asylum seekers, and violence and tragedy in Melbourne itself.

On stage with lighting,  music pumping, a smiling face and winsome voice, Oprah’s pithy and pseudo-spirituality may enthuse her loyal fans, but in the real world such words are empty.

If I want to be entertained I think I’ll go and watch the new installment of Star Wars. The world needs solutions that have weight to them.

Melbourne, please don’t look to Oprah for life advice, just as I hope people aren’t listening to those blood-sucking, money draining, soul-black hole tele-evangelists who are bizarrely still being shown early Sunday morning television.

Instead, I am reminded of another preacher, and his  words were not greeted with mass cheering, but they have nonetheless stood the test of time. They are words with weight to them; words that don’t offer glib promises or shallow triumph. They are words which have made the most powerful uncomfortable, and the wisest look foolish. And they are words that have given peace to the most vulnerable, and joy to the hurting.

Oprah’s words feed the ego, which is perhaps one reason for her popularity. Jesus’ words, on the other hand, both cut the ego and restore the soul.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (from the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 6:19-21)