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15 MARCH 2013

Overt technological change witnesses an enduring tradition

"In 2005, visitors packed into the expansive boulevard leading up to St. Peter's Square as Pope John Paul II's body was carried into the crowd for public viewing in the days following his death. Taken nearly two years before the iPhone debuted, the photo is striking now for its appearance straight out of another era.

For anyone who has ever been to a concert, the photo at bottom, taken Tuesday night as Pope Francis made his inaugural appearance on the Vatican balcony, seems almost ordinary. The two, taken together, reflect a world changing, even as some ancient traditions stay the same."

(Carlo Dellaverson, 13 March 2013, NBC News)

Fig.1 Luca Bruno / AP, The faithful gather in 2005 near St. Peter's to witness Pope John Paul II's body being carried into the Basilica for public viewing.

Fig.2 Michael Sohn / AP, St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, on March 13, 2013.

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TAGS

20052013ancient traditions • another era • ArgentinacacophonyCatholic • Catholic leader • changing behaviourschanging timeschanging worldChristian • concert • digital ageelectronic ageinaugural addressiPhone • Jorge Mario Bergoglio • mobile phone • NBC News • participative mediaphotoPopePope Francis • Pope John Paul II • ritual • St Peters Square • symbolic behaviourtradition • Vatican City • visitors

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
23 MAY 2010

The Tailenders: missionary activity and global capitalism

"The Tailenders explores the connections between missionary activity and global capitalism. The Tailenders examines a missionary organization's use of ultra–low–tech audio devices to evangelize indigenous communities facing crises caused by global economic forces.

Joy Ridderhoff founded Gospel Recordings in 1939 in Los Angeles. She remembered how crowds had gathered around gramophones in the Honduran villages where she had worked as a missionary, and decided that rather than compete with this medium, she would use it to preach. The organization that she founded has now produced audio recordings of Bible stories in over 5,000 languages, and aims to record in every language on earth. They distribute these recordings along with hand–wind players in regions with limited access to electricity and media. The Bible stories played by the missionaries are sometimes the first encounter community members have had with recorded sound, and, even more frequently, the first time they have heard their own language recorded. Gospel Recordings calls their target audience 'the Tailenders' because they are the last to be reached by global evangelism.

The missionaries target communities in crisis because they have found that displaced and desperate people are especially receptive to the evangelical recordings. When uprooted from one's home, as in the case of Mexican migrant workers, the sound of one's own language is a comfort. And the audio players are appealing media gadgets. Audiences who might not otherwise be interested in the missionaries' message will listen to the recordings. The Tailenders focuses on how the media objects and messages introduced by the missionaries play a role in larger socioeconomic transformations, such as the move away from subsistence economies toward cash economies based on agricultural and industrial labor.

The film raises questions about how people who receive the recordings understand them. Gospel Recording's project is premised on a belief in the transparency of language to transmit a divinely inspired message. But because the missionaries don't speak the languages, they must enlist bilingual native speakers as translators. There is ample opportunity for mistakes, selectivity, and resistance in the translation. The film explores how meaning changes as it crosses language and culture."

(Adele Horne)

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TAGS

19392006accessible design • Adele Horne • Biblecapitalismcardboard • cardboard record player • Cardtalk • Cardtalk player • Christiancommunities in crisiscommunitycultural insensitivitycultural signalsdisplacementdocumentaryeconomyemotive manipulationethics • evangelism • first encounter • First Nationsgadget • Global Recordings Network • globalisation • Gospel Recordings • gramophone • GRN • hand operated device • hand-wound • HondurasideologyIndiaIndigenousIndigenous communities • Joy Ridderhoff • languagelow-tech • media objects • Mexicomigrant workersmissionary • proselytisation • recordingreligionresponsibilitysocial changesocio-economicsociologySolomon Islandstechnology • The Tailenders (2005) • transformationultra-low-techvillagervoice

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
09 AUGUST 2009

Prisoners of a White God: Akha culture under attack

"This documentary explicitly reveals under cover work of missionary agencies and individuals in the destruction of an ethnic group, the Akha people of South East Asia. It is a picture of evil cloaked in righteousness. Evangelical missionaries come with the Good News of the Gospel, and aid for the poverty stricken mountain people. The reality is division, destruction of family core groups, human rights violations, displacement, forced relocation, theft of land, cultural genocide, racism and power of a majority people group over the indigenous group.
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[Tomáš] Ryška does an excellent job presenting the contrast of hypocrisy and wealth of the missionary, aid, food and clothing, the underworld of child trafficking versus the appearance of cleanliness and holiness, worship done the 'right' way, versus the 'pagan way.' He contrasts land theft, greed for the rich mountain resources, good business versus God's service. He uncovers the fear of eternal punishment versus the joys of heaven, fear of death threats for those who dare expose evil that dwells in the fundamentalist Christian missionary centres, corruption versus holiness, forced relocation, illness, depression, malaria, and prison camps in the lowlands for the unfortunate mountain people. It is colonization all over again."
(Akha Heritage Foundation)

TAGS

2008aid • Akha • autonomyChristiancommunitycorruptioncultural heritage • disempowerment • documentaryethicsethnicity • ethnocide • exploitationfaithFirst NationsfundamentalismglobalisationimperialismIndigenousIndigenous communitiesLaos • missionaries • missionarypagan • Prisoners of a White God • religionsocial changeSouth-East AsiaspiritualityThailand • Tomas Ryska • traditiontraffickingtransformationvillager

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
18 MAY 2009

Bebo employed by Irish dissident republicans to recruit children

"Police are investigating claims that dissident republicans are attempting to recruit children as young as 13 through social networking sites.
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A number of different sites claiming to be linked to dissident groups have attracted hundreds of young people as members which urge Irish youths to 'join the struggle'.

A site on Bebo claiming to be in support of the Real IRA asks young people to join and 'show support for dissident republicans!'."

(Victoria O'Hara, 23 April 2009, Belfast Telegraph)

TAGS

anglophobiaBeboBelfastbelongingCatholicChristiancoercioncommunityemotive manipulationethicsgangIreland • loyalist • Northern Ireland • Protestant • radicalisation • Real IRA • Republicansocial changesocial networkingsociety • taig • violence

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
20 JANUARY 2009

Barack Obama: our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness

"For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus – and non–believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace."

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CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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