Showing posts with label media. Show all posts
Showing posts with label media. Show all posts

Monday, January 24, 2011

Media and the ALC

Lately I've been visiting various ALC church web sites listed on the denomination's church locator page. There are 57 congregations listed there from all across the United States, providing interesting insights into the role that the internet and media plays in this historically media-suspicious branch of Laestadianism. The congregations listed there range from those without any web presence all the way to those that provide advanced multi-media options for viewing, listening, or reading part or all of their church services.

(As an aside, I would love to know if this is an exhaustive list of all current ALC congregations. If it is, it makes the level of media use all the more compelling. Even if it isn't, however, I still think that what follows is interesting. Either way, the list seemed pretty exhaustive to me.)

One thing that struck me was how many congregations had live streaming video, live streaming audio, live telephone dial in, or archived audio or video of the services. It seemed more than a little ironic considering that many of these congregations were strongly opposed to television back in the 60s and 70s, and against the internet in its early days. On the other hand there has always been a role for media. I remember sermons being recorded on audio cassette when I was a kid, and they were circulated widely among those who lived too far away to attend an ALC congregation regularly.

Of the 57 congregations I looked at, 5 have live streaming video feeds over the internet when church is in session. That is nearly 10%!

Lake Worth
Spruce Grove

Of the 57, 4 have live streaming internet audio when church is in session.

New Ipswich

For those who may not have an internet connection, there are 4 congregations that provide a local or toll free telephone number and PIN where you can dial in to listen to church while it is in session over a land line or cell phone.

New Ipswich
Spruce Grove

Eliminating duplicates, that makes 10 congregations out of 57 that provide some means of accessing the church service live without being physically present. That's 17.5% and an astoundingly high number, if you ask me!

Carrying on the audio tape tradition in a modern format, 15 congregations had archived audio, video, or text of past sermons that could be either streamed or downloaded for playback on an iPod or other digital player. That includes some of the congregations with live options, however.

I haven't looked at other denominations in this level of detail, but my gut level reaction is that the ALC is making much heavier use of live streaming media than many other denominations.

I wonder why?

One ALC site I visited stated that they are merely trying to make the gospel as widely accessible as possible. While I don't discount this as part of the justification, there are many other denominations with more evangelical fervor that don't seem to use live streaming media as frequently as the ALC does.

I think the relatively small size of the denomination also plays a role. As with the earlier generation of audio cassette exchange, live streaming media fills a real need for many Laestadians that might live too far away from the closest ALC congregation to be able to attend services regularly.

I also wonder if vestiges of the old Laestadian exclusivism play a role in the demand for this type of "at a distance" access? Where other people might consider switching to a closer or more convenient denomination under these circumstances, Laestadians face a much higher bar where much more is at stake. Viewing services over the web allows them to stay connected even if they are hundreds of miles away from the closest like-minded congregation.

From an ex-Laestadian perspective, I find the streaming sites to be a great asset with a wealth of current information on the state of the denomination. I don't have to waste my time actually attending church services in order to keep up on what's current. If someone tries to sell me on the idea that things are so much different now and better than they used to be, I can test those assertions against written, audio, and video material directed at the flock and not as a sales pitch to backslider outsiders such as myself. :-)

Finally, I wonder what type of unintended consequences will happen as a result of putting the church service online? Will it invite more scrutiny because anyone can see it? Will devout ALCers start skipping church because they can watch it in their bathrobe Sunday morning instead? (or at least claim to?) Will there be more switching between congregations (or even between branches of Laestadianism) because there is now an easy no social cost way to check out other congregations?

Friday, February 08, 2008

Obama on Economic Justice

Today I joined 18,000 neighbors at a the Key Arena to see Barack Obama. The stadium was a multicolored sea. From my perch in the nosebleed section, the packed stadium resembled an enormous multi-colored braided rug, the kind they sell in the Land's End catalog. When the "wave" came through, it was like a strong wind ruffling the human rug.

It was thrilling, to say the least.

And so was Barack Obama. His wide-ranging speech was constantly interrupted by roars of approval, and only later, in this video was I able to catch all his words. I recommend watching the whole thing if you have time.

I found this particularly interesting:

"I believe in the free market, I believe in entrepreneurship, and I believe in capitalism. It is the most dynamic economy ever devised. But when CEOs are making more in 10 minutes than ordinary workers are making in a year, and it's the CEOs who are getting the tax breaks and ordinary workers are left holding the bag, something is out of balance."

"We need to restore a sense of balance in our country . . . . if you work in this country, you should not be poor."

Here are some startling statistics:

In 2006, 36.5 million people were in poverty, and 35.5 million Americans lived in "food insecure" households, 22.8 million adults and 12.6 million children. On any given night in America, anywhere from 700,000 to 2 million people are homeless, according the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty.

Poverty in America is considerably higher today than it was in the 1970s and children are especially affected. The U.S. lags behind other developed countries in this area. While Denmark and Finland lead 26 participating OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) countries with child poverty rates below 3 percent, Mexico and the United States are at the other end of the spectrum, both with child poverty rates of more than 20 percent.

The above is from this article decrying the media's silence about this issue.

I'm glad our candidates are talking about economic justice.

I'd like to know what you think about it.