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Marisa Ruiz

October 4, 2008

Religion 150

Religious Story in the News Report

The Audacity of Claiming the Last Word on This Word

The New York Times lists as a moderate news source, but accused of being both liberal

and moderate in its reporting and editorial content. With respect to Peter Steinfels’ article, “The

Audacity of Claiming the Last Word on This Word,” I found that his reports only agenda is to

clarify terminology used in journalism. Although it makes mention of other news sources, it has

taken responsibility for being guilty of doing this exact thing.

In his article, featured in the Beliefs section of September 13, 2008 edition of The New

York Times, Steinfels evaluates the media’s usage of the term “orthodoxy” when referring to or

reporting on religious issues. Routinely, the media uses this ambiguous term interchangeably

without realizing its connotations. The author explains the difference between the uppercase”

Orthodox” and the lowercase “orthodox,” which are often mistakenly confused with each other.

The first referring to labeling a faction within a religions group that has its disagreements, but

does not cause heated arguments. The latter being more controversial that it refers to the

ideological issue, “What constitutes correct a true teaching within a particular tradition.”

Steinfels concludes that when it comes to reporting on religions issues, simple rewording by

journalist can charge the meaning a tone of a stay from a subjective point of view to

straightforward reporting from an objective standpoint, therefore, leaving religious leaders to

contend with the meaning of “orthodoxy.”

I found a very interesting relationship between religion and a person’s self-perception. In

my opinion, aside from politics, religion has more controversies surrounding it than any other
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topic. Therefore, it is indefinable. I hold the strong belief that religion helps us understand our

experiences, deal with our own feelings, and assess the world around us. No matter the faith one

is or the belief one has, it is a foundation that keeps as grounded,giving us faith and hope to live

by. I personally identify religion as a set of strongly held values and beliefs that plays a vital role

in our lives. Moreover, it plays a big part in how we view ourselves.

Whether a faith, a faction, or an individual is liberal or conservative in their religious

views, I think it does not make either one of them more orless orthodox. After all, who is the

authority on whom or what is orthodox? If this “term” is at the heart of any particular religion’s

issue, this can cause the entire group and factions within to quarrel and criticize each other. The

ambiguity and contradictions of what we learn can be downright frustrating, resulting in

questioning their purpose, faith, as well as each other.

To the degree that this controversy affects an individual is uncertain, but I can only

speculate from personal experience that feelings of doubt can cause indifference in someone’s

faith. Moreover, as a person internalizes these conflicts, it can easily make a person susceptible

to self-doubt. This may breed cynicism towards faith that is at the very core of our belief and

trust system and that of our society.

As I reflect back, I believe that this had some affected on my life as a young girl to the

point of me finding interest in the Buddhist faith as an adult. I believe faith conveys a message

of peace, happiness, hope, and love. I think religion should notbe used to instill fear in anyone.

There should be respect and harmony within it is their religious community.

For example, I grew up a Roman Catholic; I was baptized, participated in Eucharist, and

Holy Communion. As with many Catholic Churches, the crucifixion is displayed in the church.

I always hated looking at the crucifix. It made me very sad and scared. My mother, a Roman

Catholic grew up in a convent run by nuns in Madrid. In our church, we had the biggest and
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most life like crucifixion of Jesus on the wall behind the altar. I fought tooth and nail with my

mother so that I did not have to go into the church. When my aunt came from Spain to visit, she

lectured me on how true believers of our faith could face Christ on the crucifixion with

humilities and acknowledge that he suffered and died for our sins. As an impressionable eight

year old, I was in total turmoil. I thought that Jesus would not love me because I would not look

at him dying on the cross. Moreover, I have seen some intense arguments that stem from this

very issue between my mother and my aunt as to what is correct within Catholic and who is more

“orthodox” than the other.

There is a correlation between religion and self-perception. Faith and religion seemed to

help people cope with everyday life. Therefore, judgment as to who is more orthodox can have a

negative effecton a person and cause further problems within their faith. Whether or not one

lives by strict doctrine or not should not be up to any ones judgment. Even within a particular

religion, people interpret and live by doctrine accordingly. Whether therapeutic, self-awareness,

or salvation among many reasons, a person has their own personal goals and reasons why and

what they seekto achieve through their faith. To the question and judge others who is or who is

not orthodox and those who make claims to know what is for what is not orthodox creates

ambivalence and indifference among those seeking something spiritual.

Steinfels, Peter. “The Audacity of Claiming the Last Word on This Word.” The New

York Times 13 Sept. 2008, Beliefs 13.