I was wondering what hook the media would latch onto on the new encyclical Spe Salvi.
It it worth repeating what Tom at Disputations wrote some years ago about the press and papal letters.
And it suddenly hits me why reporters seize on such bits of rehashed doctrine as the hook on which to hang papal letters. It may have less to do with reporter’s prefab notions of the Church than with everyone’s experience of the Ginger Factor.
The Ginger Factor, named for a well-known “Far Side” cartoon, is a measure of the ratio of words said to words understood. A dog named Ginger, for example, only understands the word “Ginger” in the sentence, “Okay, Ginger, if you get into the garbage one more time, you’ll be spending the night outside.”
I think most people, not just benighted reporters, experience a high Ginger Factor with most papal encyclicals; my post below includes a paragraph from an apostolic letter that has a high G.F. for me. Naturally, a reporter doesn’t report on the parts of a papal statement that sound like, “Blah blah blah, blah blah blah blah.blah” And naturally, a reporter does recognize (and report on) the part that sounds like, “This means Senator Rawkins is being naughty.”