New Article in Journal of Media and Religion

I’m pleased to announce the publication of an essay, coauthored with Jon Radwan of Seton Hall University, in the Journal of Media and Religion: “YouTubing Eudaimoniae? Pachamama, Inspiration, and Manipulation in Platonic and Biblical Rhetorics.”

Here is the abstract:

Rhetorical functions of media are outlined in the Platonic and Biblical traditions and applied to 2019ʹs “Pachamama YouTube iconoclepsis (“image-stealing”) controversy. Where post-Enlightenment theory brackets or dismisses spiritual communication, pre-modern frames offer clear heuristics and vocabulary for interpreting mediated religious protest. In reaction to a culture of sophistic manipulation, Plato envisioned ideals approached via cooperative dialectic. Psychogogy, leading souls, requires artists and orators adapting true, beautiful, and good ideals for people in their care. Plato uses a pharmacological metaphor to show how art and public discourse can harm and diminish, or heal and restore, spiritual wellbeing, and social eudaimonia. In contrast to Plato, the Biblical tradition cedes invention to God, whose message is shared with passion and urgency to guide people away from evil toward flourishing. The culmination of prophetic communication is the Incarnation: Jesus gives humanity direct contact with divine truth and light, and upon His resurrection the Holy Spirit inspires missionary outreach. Today YouTube activists engage power dynamics within sacred space and imagery to attempt Church reforms.

The article is currently behind the paywall (as are most academic articles). If you do not have access through your institution and want to read it, please message me privately, and I will send you an e-offprint.

This is the second publication that Jon and I have authored together (our first is here). I’m grateful to him for proposing the topic; I was unaware of the “Pachamama incident” before Jon brought it to my attention. Our initial impressions of the event were understandably different, reflecting our respective Protestant and Catholic viewpoints. While I enjoyed writing the portions focused on the biblical texts, I learned a great deal in the process from Jon about Platonic thought, communication theories, and Papal rhetoric.

As often happens with academic papers, the research was substantially completed back in Fall 2020, but is appearing only now after a long process of peer-review and editing. The Pachamama incident itself (October 2019) feels like a distant memory, given that it happened “BCE” (Before the COVID Era). Yet many of the issues covered continue to be relevant, including images, worship, technology, online “ecosystems,” hierarchies, and the spread of information.

About Benj

I’m a native North Jerseyan, transplanted to Pennsylvania...lived and taught in Eastern Europe for six years…Old Testament professor, ordained minister, occasional liturgist…husband to Corrie…father to Daniel and Elizabeth.
This entry was posted in Bible-Theology, Culture-Economics-Society, Research and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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