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Christian mass media in Ukraine today/ P. Pavluk

Christian mass media in Ukraine today/ P. Pavluk

Peter Pavluk, Dr. of Ministry, professor, Head of Humanitarian-Theological Institute (Odessa)                          

One can hear different things about Baptists in Ukraine. Оne time, when I was on the train, a traveler was telling: "A Baptist sits on Kreschatik and beats the drum"…  

In Odessa, during a fight at the meeting in defense of the Orthodox Church and the Russian language, someone dropped: Baptists totally unbelted, there is no setting on them!"

One of my long-time acquaintances, when invited to attend our church service, exclaimed in horror: "I’d rather hang myself than go to your place!" As it turned out, he heard that Baptists offer human sacrifices, “and the Orthodox cross is dug at their doorway”

It’s not only “common folk’s tables.” When reading opuses by secular journalists, it seems to me that religious topics are consciously or unconsciously profaned. I watched one TV program on the "Baptists of the 70s"... In one of the Kyiv editions I read that Baptists are part of Catholic Church and their headquarters are in Rome. When I called the editors, I heard the surprising "Isn’t it?"

Secular media and religion

The same relates to the secular mass media’s addressing other protestant denominations. Тhus, because of the negligence of mass media workers, society gets unreliable information. The fault of not only the journalists, but also many of the so-called educated people is that they are sincere in their innocence.

Of course, mistakes may arise due to the difficulty of the religious topic itself. The difficulty is that, even within one denomination, different opinions and different forms of worshipping God may coexist. In my opinion, neither secular nor some Christian journalists understand the beauty and dramatic nature of the whole multi-denominational mosaic of the religious life in Ukraine and, by way of summarizing separated instances, draw the wrong conclusions. The fact remains, secular journalists are not motivated to properly study, present and analyze religious life, unless there is confrontation or a scandal.

In their essence, secular journalism and mass media are manipulative. Being the property of media magnates, such media pursue the only goal – to take away time and to empty the pockets of media takers. They use such a method that, influencing the lowest human instincts and needs, forms public opinion and creates consuming worldview.

A famous sociologist Markuse states that, as a result of using of special propaganda methods, society gets purposefully simplified schemes of the black-and-white vision of the problem. He called mass media the weapon of the conscience and people’s behavior manipulation. Thus people are purposefully converted into personalities with simplified social reception, who by means of "single measure" realize the events in the plane of primitive decisions. Hereby denial to think critically is provoked, which leads to, sorry to say, stupefaction. This is how false mass needs are formed. In the same manner, with the purpose to discredit, the perverted image of believers is formed. 

Is religious news interesting today?

Indisputably, yes. In the 21st century there came out so-called "new religiosity" which in a sense gains victory over traditional Constantine Christianity. Thinking large-scale, one can presume that many nations and cultures of the world which faced the expansion of Christianity as a ruling religion have now revenged on their enslavers – if not by expansion, then by infiltration of their religious ideas and practices. And these ideas and practices prevail due to the effectiveness of their influence on people!

Today not only a Western, but also our businessman who has desired to find spiritual support and "change the consciousness" (that of his own or his field rival), also for more successful business operation, often seeks not the priest’s advice, not even the psychiatrist’s, but to the nearest medium (guru, fortune teller, parapsychiatrist etc.).

There is a strange situation: the failure of the so-called Christian Western civilization that wanted to dominate in the East was accompanied by the victorious marching of the "Eastern spiritual practices" to the West. Thereby the civilization which grew up on Christianity and then, at the time of secularization, on its "inner" negation, fulfills its need today in "religious metaphysics" on the account of non-Christian religiosity. .

The Soviet atheism also turned up with new religiosity. Eastern spiritualistic schools and practices, syncretic cults, charismatic movements, barbaric traditions (Ukrainian, African, or "Castaneda’s") proved to be quite consistent with the modern pragmatism.

Finally, one more peculiarity of the modern religious situation is connected with globalization processes. The world has become united, interrelated entity, and the world religions came face to face.

What else has become obvious is that secularization is the peculiarity of the Christian world. It doesn’t touch upon other religious traditions. This is important in the context of this mass media theme.

Thus, in today’s world process, it is the religious factor that has become important, since religions are deeply connected to cultures, ethics and people’s mentality.

Christian mass media tendencies

During the period of work in Christian journalism, I saw the absence of the institute of free-lance correspondents and work with authors. No one simply was able to do it. This was happening also due to the absence of understanding the importance of this ministry. For example, one minister, having heard from me that three hundred dollars were spent to publish a Christian magazine, said: "Couldn’t this money be spent in a more effective way?"  

Some people believe that one Bible is enough for evangelism and there is no need in other printed editions. We are not trying to lessen or undermine the authority of the Bible. Truly, it is enough for salvation. But it is not enough for effective evangelism.

Besides, Christian journalism is needed for Christians’ consolidation and cooperation. How, as an example, churches in the West could know about Christians’ persecutions in the countries with totalitarian regime and call the world community for defense those persecuted? There were people that labored to describe the problem, to tell about the crying factors of violation of believers’ rights. In the same way were documented great callings, miracles and grief which have to do with all the Christians in the world.  

Unfortunately, an obstacle for Christian journalism could be the fact that in some groups of Christians, faithfulness to corporal interests is considered to be higher than faithfulness to God. There appear divisions of which no one wins and the Christian faith itself is discredited. Obviously, due to inner fights, not so much as representatives of other Christian denominations win as various non-Christian movements (so-called Jehova Witnesses, Mormons, Esoteric and occult stickers etc).

Yes, the long-awaited freedom changed a lot. Many higher and middle Christian educational establishments opened their doors. Anyone can get the necessary biblical, theological, and secular spiritual education. Today such majors as "Journalist" and "Media Specialist" can be received at the Christian humanitarian and economic university. But the problem is, very few people want to study there. The problem is intensified even more, since the government of Ukraine doesn’t recognize diplomas of the religious educational establishments. This is why, unfortunately, their graduates often remain uncalled-for in areas where there is need for such specialists with higher education.

All in all, I believe today there is no need to prove the importance of Christian journalism. Now, with the coming of digital technologies age and the ruling of the entertainment industry, the question is different: how to use the new technical opportunities and how the latter may influence the spread of the gospel?  

I believe that new technical means can make a big step forward in the development of the Christian media, radio, television, internet, mass media publishers – these are all wonderful instruments for preaching the gospel. This is why today the effective Christian churches of different denominations seek and find ways of active involvement of the mass media for evangelism. For example, in Russia the association "Christians’ Union" even created its own media holding.

Recommendations

Today it is important for us to create Christian works in the language and style understandable to modern culture. It is now that we need to realize that, in our struggle for people’s hearts and minds in the modern culture, we will have to present ourselves under the flag of quality which shows the value of our works’ context.

The post Soviet protestant media have already walked a certain way, but their quality is still at the starting point. We are all looking for a way to make our editions interesting for a wider number of people. (Although Russian Orthodox mass media and publishers untwisted with the state’s help. It looks like state Orthodoxy will replace Marxism-Leninism in Russia. But this is another topic.)

Such ministry requires its own church journalist or writer. Its social effect cannot be overestimated. In some fast-growing Pentecostal and Charismatic churches there already exist press-centers and departments of social relations. The influence of such churches is substantially growing. As an example, the church led by a former journalist Sunday Adeladja consists of over 20 thousand members. They include deputies of the Ukrainian parliament, officials, businessmen, and the Kyiv mayor Leonid Chernovetsky. I think that the representatives of this very denomination will be the soonest to create their own media holding in Ukraine.

Which informational well occasion can be used? One can always get secular editors interested with the information on the church’s social projects. Let it also be critical articles to the topic of the day, but this religion organization will be at least heard. For instance, Christians’ attitude to books by modern writers, such as Dan Brown, Joan Rowling, or Paulo Coelho. (Although some Christian editions have very laudatory pastoral estimations of P. Coelho and J. Rowling’s books.  These authors’ position is not understandable: is it a common ignorance or a desire to be original?)This can be church news, bibliographical essays etc.

The church has enough informational well occasion which may and need to be illuminated in their and secular press. For this, may I repeat myself, each church should ideally have a specialist in social relations. This person could represent the church on the professional level.

Society needs effective educational activity, reliable information on the essence of Christianity should be delivered. Yet ours is one-sided– the Orthodoxy is spoken of, sometimes Catholicism, all the rest is not. We need a program of religious education which would reveal who the Protestants are, for example, long-suffering Baptists, their teaching, their history. For our country counts the largest number of Baptists in Europe.

Prognoses

“The moment of truth", has come for Christian mass media, given by the Creator for the revealing of the Christianity’s inner potential.

The 21st century gives Christians full, absolute freedom. Along with it, "Christian totalitarianism" won’t go anyway. But religious freedom allows Christianity, along with other religious traditions, the opportunity to show that it is effective and meaningful – first of all in spiritual context, and maybe social as well.

Christian mass media are called to play a special part in the process of spiritual revival of our society on the grounds of Christian values. And one may suggest that in the 21st century we will become witnesses if not of spiritual revival, then, at least, of the further growth of religious presence in society. 

Literature 1. Газета "Русская мысль", № 4246, декабрь 2000 г.2. Газета "Свобода", №39 (309) 2006 г.3. Журнал "Решение", №14, 2006 г.4. Информационный бюллетень Ассоциации "Новомедиа", №2(4), 2006 т. 5. Ках Гари, Глобализация на пути ко всемирному завоеванию, СПб.-К, 2006.6. Рокмаер Ханс. Р. Современное искусство и смерть культуры, СПб, 2004. 7. Сенченко Н.И. Латентные структуры мировой политики, Киев, 2006 г. 

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