Dennis G. Jerz | Associate Professor of English -- New Media Journalism, Seton Hill University | jerz.setonhill.edu Logo

In March, 2002, I was blogging about…

In March, 2002, I was blogging about The coming era of participatory news The “Worst Manual Contest” Ancient “Domesday Book” outlives electronic version (that article is also gone… but here’s contemporary coverage from Slashdot) My own text-adventure game “Fine-Tuned: An Auto-mated Romance“ PBS special “Merchants of Cool” (early observations about the cultural feedback loop as teens engage with, internalize, and mirror back the images marketers use to sell products) The…

Selected Negative Teaching Evaluations of Jesus Christ

“Not what I expected. They say his area of specialty is carpentry, but we never built anything.” “Kind of absent-minded. My name’s Simon, and he’s called me ‘Peter’ for the entire semester.” “I wanted to like this class, but on the first day, he submerged us in a river instead of going over the syllabus, and that was kind of a lot.” […] “I asked him to sign my accommodations…

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Rightful Heir (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 6, Episode 23) Worf’s quest for the return of a fabled Klingon threatens the Klingon Empire’s status quo

Rewatching ST:TNG Worf is uncharacteristically late for a shift because he was distracted by a ritual to invoke the fabled warrior Kahless. He tells Picard that since meeting the young Klingons who grew up with no knowledge of their heritage (s6e16&17 “Birthright“), he has felt “empty,” and feels the need to test his faith. Picard is simultaneously strict and empathetic, calling Worf’s actions “Inexcusable… and understandable.” He grants him a…

In one small prairie town, two warring visions of America

Great writing and great photography in this story about a small Minnesota town where conservative Lutheran pastor Jason Wolter denies that COVID-19 vaccines work. “You’re lying to people,” he says, “You flat-out lie about things.” Wolter is speaking of Reed Anfinson, his next-door neighbor, who is the editor of the Swift County Monitor-News, “[a] contemplative man who casually quotes Voltaire, he loves newspapers deeply, and mourns the hundreds of small-town papers…

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Father David Hudgins RIP | In His Own Words

My friend from high school passed away a few days ago. What an amazing preacher. So intelligent, so approachable, so passionate. What a loss to the Diocese of Lansing and everyone who knew and loved him.   I am laughing through my tears at his aside, “I want to smack ’em!”   (I knew him through the Drama Club and really enjoyed our scenes together, especially in Our Town, where…

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The Next Phase (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 5, Episode 24) Ghost Ro Meets Ghost LaForge

Rewatching ST:TNG A transporter accident causes LaForge and Ro to wander the Enterprise-D like ghosts. The teaser begins in medias res, with the Enterprise responding to a Romulan distress call. While prepping to beam over, Ro snarks at Riker under her breath, but backs down when challenged. The Romulans, who seem almost overwhelmed by the disaster, readily agree to send an important part back to the Enterprise “for replication.” That’s…

As White Evangelical Vaccine Refusal Reminds Us, Sometimes Religion is the Problem

When reality contradicts the truths that define group membership, the evangelical community circles the wagons and puts the power and influence of its tight institutional network behind the assertion that, in fact, the emperor is wearing clothes, and anyone who says otherwise is a dirty godless liberal intent on persecuting Christians. How do I justify such a frank, unflattering assertion? Well, I’m not only well-versed in the relevant data and literature,…

Gender and Language — Revisiting Advice I Posted in 1998

When I was in college and active in a Catholic student group, I remember noticing that a second edition of the hymnal Glory and Praise rewrote lyrics, replaced many generic references to “men” or “brothers” with synonyms like “all” or “fam’ly” (elided to two syllabus).  Sometimes this meant rewriting the rhymes, or occasionally leaving a line that referred to “brothers” and “sons” and adding a parallel verse that addressed “sisters”…

What are ‘Judeo-Christian values’? Analyzing a divisive term

block of American society. ­But for critics of how the term is used today, Judeo-Christian is vague, historically flawed and even inflammatory. These opposing views reflect a deep rift in American society and illuminate very different fundamental political beliefs.

“This is a term defined by exclusion,” said Shalom Goldman, a professor at Middlebury College in Vermont, arguing that the term is often used to reject secular values and Muslims.

“It’s essentially saying our values are not the values of the Enlightenment or the Constitution, but instead our values are the values of the Bible,” he said.

Rabbi Jack Moline, president of the Washington-based Interfaith Alliance, called the term a “generalization” and said it is one “Christians in particular use to put a patina of universality on a certain Christian culture in the United States.”

Given a chance to explain his support for a YouTuber who warns about alien DNA, Trump abruptly ends press conference

After mounting a half-hearted defense of a woman who says masks don’t work, that there’s a cure for COVID-19, and that doctors make medicine from DNA from aliens and that experts are working on a vaccine that makes you immune from becoming religious, Trump ends a press conference by walking out of the room. Background on Stella Immanuel, a pediatrician and minister who has voiced professional opinions about medical maladies…

Episcopal bishop on President Trump: ‘Everything he has said and done is to inflame violence’

“I am the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington and was not given even a courtesy call, that they would be clearing [the area] with tear gas so they could use one of our churches as a prop,” Budde said. She excoriated the president for standing in front of the church — its windows boarded up with plywood — holding up a Bible, which Budde said “declares that God…

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Coronavirus: advice from the Middle Ages for how to cope with self-isolation

Like many people, I curate my social media posts. After a month of coronavirus lockdown, I’ve been curating more than usual. I have spent (many) sleepless nights scrolling through news reports in slack-jawed horror; I’ve (often) felt overwhelmed; I’ve lost my temper at my family (regularly). I haven’t posted about such events because I don’t want to dwell on them (not here, anyway). Of course the consequence of all of…