Wednesday, March 28, 2007

No Atheists in Foxholes

This post covers two areas of digital rhetoric that have seen dramatic growth of late: military-sponsored websites and those related to mega churches in evangelical Christianity.

On the military front, Women in the Combat Zone provides the nascent public face of women in the military for purposes of online outreach, especially now that recruitment for soldiers is facing problems reaching its targets while retention is on the wane. From an information design standpoint, it's an odd web page, because flash elements that would invite interactivity -- because they look like one word navigation topics -- are not actually clickable.

On the same subject, note how this Bag News Notes analysis of images of women in the military presents a somewhat different picture, one in which questions of gender and sexuality can't be avoided. The New York Times has published a multimedia piece, "The Women's War," about Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder that argues that sexual assault and harassment from within the military was actually the key catalyst.

The stands of Baptist bloggers on homosexuality have certainly stirred debate, particularly this inflammatory post by Albert Mohler, which suggests hormone treatments for fetuses who are identified as genetically predisposed to homosexuality. Meanwhile, the official website of the New Life Church seems to be suppressing the obvious scandal surrounding former pastor Ted Haggard's secret gay double life. A formal letter to the congregation appears to be intentionally very vague about the precise accusations involved, although the words "improper" are repeated several times. To get a sense of Haggard's own rhetorical presentation, the Internet Archive has Ted Haggard's one-time official site partially preserved here.

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