Kerri Miller’s journalistic double standard

November 19, 2014 • 12:55 pm

Kerri Miller is either a dreadful journalist or an uneven one, and here’s the evidence: her interviews with Karen Armstrong and Richard Dawkins. The former is saccharine and uncritical, the latter hypercritical and unfair.

Yesterday I mentioned Kerri Miller’s interview of Karen Armstrong on Minnesota Public Radio (MPR). I didn’t hear the whole thing, but did watch three 10-minute video clips and commented on one. Now you can hear the whole interview, which is 58 minutes long, at this site.

Go there and press the button that looks like this:

Screen Shot 2014-11-19 at 8.05.40 AM

If you are even a bit critical of religion, you’ll find the interview infuriating. Armstrong, with Miller’s approbation, excuses religion and fields Miller’s softball questions. Miller didn’t ask a single hard or provocative question, but merely eggs on, worshipfully, Armstrong’s long-winded lucubrations.  (Warning: don’t listen to this unless you have a strong constitution!). Armstrong apparently doesn’t know how to answer a question without nattering on for ten minutes. Arrogant, self-centered, and afflicted with a chronic case of logorrhea, Armstrong even reads her entire Charter for Compassion, and lets us know that she won the TED Prize for it. And, of course, she exculpates religion for every evil supposedly done in its name, blaming oppression (that goes for ISIS, too).

Now, if you have time, listen to her 2009 interview of Richard Dawkins here (there are six YouTube pieces that will play in order).

It’s the usual aggressive interview leveled at Richard by those who believe in belief. She accuses him of conceiving of religion as “infantile” and “unsophisticated” (the usual strawman), calling Dawkins a “fundamentalist” similar to religious fundamentalists. She even asks him whether, as an ageing male, he might possibly find God on his deathbed. Miller also doesn’t seem to evince much understanding about how science works, and asks him why on Earth he would bother writing his book on the evidence for evolution (The Greatest Show on Earth). It’s clear that she is hostile, and I’m gratified that Dawkins remains fairly calm when under attack.

Now I don’t mind interviewers being hard on their subjects, but it’s simply bad journalism to be hard on an atheist while kissing the rump of a closet religionist like Karen Armstrong. Welcome to America, and National Public Radio.


Screen Shot 2014-11-19 at 8.25.02 AM

The stuff below is from an interview of Kerri Miller by Minneapolis/St. Paul Magazine. The warning signs are already there:

Screen Shot 2014-11-19 at 8.22.31 AM





Jesus and Mo on apophatic theology

July 8, 2009 • 6:17 am

Well, it can’t be coincidence: the mysterious artist of Jesus and Mo is clearly reading about the science-versus-religion debates and transforming them into hilarious strips.  His/her latest is about apophatic theology, which is precisely the theology that Karen Armstrong touts in her new book, The Case for God.   Apophatic theology is apparently this:

. . . negative theology is far more than a puzzling emblem of antique theology; it is the foundation of serious reflection about the divine. He understands negative theology as consisting “in a critical negation of all affirmations which one can make about God, followed by an equally critical negation of our negations.” In his words, “without the negative theology our representation of reality loses all depth and becomes abstract, flat, and unreal.” This happens because we lose sight of the divine whenever we accept as final or complete any conceptual representation of it.

o.k., this is clearly a theology which is practiced by beefy, well-fed liberal theologians rather than the average believer.  It appears to be summed up by the statement,  “We can’t conceive of God until we stop thinking about him.”

Whenever I read stuff like this, it reminds me of George Orwell’s great statement in Notes on Nationalism:

One has to belong to the intelligentsia to believe things like that: no ordinary man could be such a fool.

When are intellectual theologians going to realize that “religion” as practiced by most people does not consist of their oh-so-genteel musings? It’s fine for theologians to indulge in these lucubrations if they want, but not to pretend that science and faith are compatible because everybody practices the theologians’ own liberal form of faith — a faith that sometimes verges on agnosticism.

Oh, wait, maybe I should like this kind of theology because it tells believers to SHUT UP.

Enough ranting; on to Jesus ‘n’ Mo: