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Hallo again to all.

This past week the Anglican Consultative Council held its 13th meeting in Nottingham, home to the famous sheriff and centre of England's former lace manufacturing industry.

We've noted a large number of online journalists and pseudo-journalists serving up commentary about 'What Nottingham means', many of them claiming that this meeting was to have been the most important event of the Anglican communion in many years. But we also took careful note of a lecture delivered recently by Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, entitled 'The Media: Public Interest and Common Good'. Dr Williams' lecture included this paragraph:

Actual human discourse happens within a number of contexts, not in some sort of unified public forum. Actual human learning about most things that matter happens in overlapping sets of relations and conversations. In human life generally, information, significant and otherwise, is shared in such overlapping networks, and absorbed at different levels over time. The journalistic assumption, though, follows a market pattern, in which a product is refined and distributed to a public defined for these purposes as concerned only to acquire it. And where that product is ‘information’, the model is particularly problematic.

In an attempt to put the Nottingham meeting into context, we asked several dozen Anglicans in our part of the world this question, exactly: 'What do you think are the most important issues in the church right now?' The question was intentionally phrased to be ambiguous about the intended meaning of 'the church', anywhere on a spectrum from 'the main service in your parish' to 'worldwide Christianity'. The true goal of the question was to get a sampling of what people thought of as 'the church', but we knew that if we asked that directly we would get puffed-up and fabricated answers.

The responses were a satisfying potpourri of concerns about outreach programmes, homeless shelters, hospitalization of vestry (PCC) members, a search for a new bishop, long-term tsunami relief, sexual abuse of children, and the safety of the car park for evening meetings. None of our respondents associated 'the church' with anything that wasn't directly part of their everyday life. For some, online community was part of their everyday life; it is in some sense global. But hardly representative. In reflecting on the scope of the answers, we remembered that later in Dr Williams' lecture, he said this:

Unwelcome truth and necessary and prompt rebuttal are characteristic of the web-based media. So are paranoid fantasy, self-indulgent nonsense and dangerous bigotry. The atmosphere is close to that of unpoliced conversation – which tends to suggest that the very idea of an appropriate professionalism for journalists begins to dissolve.

Anglicans Online always tries to take a global perspective, but our little survey suggested that there's not much interest in global issues. Further, as a web-based medium, Anglicans Online runs the abovementioned risk of being discounted as fantasy, nonsense, or bigotry. But we're not afraid. We know you're here reading all the way to the end of this letter because you trust us and because you care. We therefore proudly offer this report on the Nottingham ACC 13 meeting, by AO correspondent Simon Sarmiento, who attended the meeting, who does care, who is a keen observer and careful commentator, setting a good example for [web] journalists everywhere.

See you next week.

Cynthia's signature
Brian's signature
Cynthia McFarland
Brian Reid

Last updated: 26 June 2005

A thin blue line
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