The Means and Ends of Adventist Media

Published:
August 24, 2006

By Alexander Carpenter
The Adventist blogosphere has raised some questions about the Danny and Linda Shelton divorce and Adventist Today's coverage.

Perpetual Student
points out, "Now I don't have the time or interest to figure out what really
happened, but I thought the letters provided a good example of some of
the pitfalls that a ministry can face if it is too tightly controlled
by a dominant personanility (sic)."

Ron Corson and the rest
writes: "It may be a shame that people search the
AToday site for information on the 3ABN situation but that is really
not the fault of AToday. To report on the situation is part of AToday's
purpose in reporting news of Adventist interest and it certainly does
not have lots of material on the subject."

But let's not mix posting emails with news reporting.
I worry that my friends at Adventist Today are letting the wrong kind
of interest drive their content. At the root, it seems, they are
mixing their means and ends.

Behind some the prurient discomfort over the Sheltons' personal lives lie serious objections to the content and management of 3ABN. 
But let's stop for a second. We must pull away
from the brink of employing personal relationships as substitute arguments for
raising essential questions about the people who represent our faith to the world.  It troubles me that some
religious folks have been at the forefront of personal attacks on
public figures (Bill Clinton/John McCain) - and we cannot allow dehumanizing titillation and argument by innuendo to leak into the
public discourse of our faith community.
I've interviewed Linda for
Spectrum
and investigated the multi-million
dollar waste and the bumbling right-wing coddling of 3ABN
. And yes, you can buy a wedding dress or a doll by Marie Osmond from 3ABN on Ebay.
But beyond the personal, Danny's email retort reveals a troubling morality - essentially saying
that he has many converts so shouldn't be criticized by folks with
less. That hint of "ends over means" justification should make his
accountant and 3ABN board sweat.

Ron
gets at that when he writes: "Just claiming that Danny Shelton is
spreading the gospel is not enough, Christian responsibility calls for
accountability as well."

When a person starts defending themselves by saying: "but look at all
the good I've done (Duke Cunningham/Pol Pot)," their moral jig is up.
I
believe, Mr. Shelton, that the Spanish Inquisition got even more
converts than you.
As an Adventist I want to see better content and leadership at one of
the largest cultural signifiers of Adventism; but we should make sure
that our own means stay high. Concerned Adventists need to drive smart
change at 3ABN, but we'll give our whole community a better media experience by staying off
"the he said/she said" road.

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