Summertime, and the journalism is easy. In the absence of another 9-11 disaster over the past 21 months, some in the press are sinking back into the pattern of asking questions that assume terrorists aren't terrible: Is the Bush administration spending too much on the military? Is it going too far in promoting national security? Pundits are complaining that Iraq, after thousands of years of rule by kings, caliphs and dictators, is not already a peaceful democracy.
Another change in this summer of ease: After 9-11, questions about God were on reporter's lips, but (apart from some queries about President Bush's religious tendencies) Christian belief is once again largely banished to the Saturday church directories beloved by advertising departments. One small indication: the ignoring of God-centered quotations from David Robinson, the San Antonio Spurs star who retired after his team's championship win on Sunday, June 15.
During the victory celebration shown on television, Robinson repeatedly thanked God. One story, from The Associated Press, quoted him in that regard: "In the post-game ceremony David Robinson, who scored 13 points and had 17 rebounds in his final game as a player, received a special burst of shouts and applause after 14 seasons as a Spur. ‘I just praise the Lord because he carried us through this year,' he said."
None of the other 248 stories about Robinson and his teammates that were filed on June 16 and included in the Lexis-Nexis database used that quotation or similar ones. Even features that specifically focused on the Naval Academy graduate (Austin American-Statesman, "Admiral sails away after one final masterpiece"; Dallas Morning News, "Admiral wins in arms race"; Detroit Free Press, "Admiral wins his final battle"; USA Today, "Job done, admiral sails into sunset") and quoted him on other matters did not quote him praising the Lord. Only a couple referred generally to his Christian beliefs.
Cliched headlines, cliched secularism -- and harder questions generally go unasked and unanswered. The American Medical Association last week endorsed cloning for research but did not back Norma McCorvey (the Roe of the Supreme Court's abortion-legalizing Roe vs. Wade decision) in her plea to reopen the famous case. Unasked question: Why do so many doctors now endorse the destruction of human life? Marriage is under assault in Ontario and in several American states, as well. Unasked question: Is marriage God-ordained and proven good, or is it something that can be twisted and used to pick up the image of any comic strip it's pressed against, like silly putty?