We have inherited much from the long course of religious history. Much of it is helpful and should guide us still, and some of it seems inconsistent and at odds with the healthy progress of modern life.
A natural part of all religious groups is what outsiders perceive to be a secretiveness or an exclusiveness surrounding their innermost matters. This ubiquitous religious habit, often misperceived to reflect something to hide, or airs of superiority, is completely opposite to the wisdom and philosophy of internet-driven sharing and collaboration that has exploded in the modern imagination, modern tools, and actual way of life.
Ideally this seeming secretiveness and exclusivity should not express superiority nor hiding, but rather the natural impulse to preserve and revere that which is sacred. It could be compared to the little one who found "the world's coolest marble," who will allow only his "bestest bestest friend" into the secret tree house to see it. It is the shadow always, naturally cast by the "special."
One such place of exclusion that remains in our "everyone share - web 2.0" world is the Hajj, the obligatory pilgrimage expected at least once in a lifetime by all Muslims. Participation on this pilgrimage is strictly limited to Muslims alone. Until this time of burgeoning shared media, it was very difficult for any non-Muslim to know much about the texture of the Hajj, surely difficult at least to know its sights and sounds.
Now all that has changed. In the age of "Google-Earth," Sally in Perth can see just what I bought as I put my groceries in the trunk of my car.
But something else too is changing, and this is promising indeed. It seems the historical clash between religion and the established and popular news media is going into remission. It is wonderful to watch and hear the intelligence, the affirmation, the maturity and basis of informed understanding that underlies the AP video report on this year's Hajj. Gone is the snide, dismissive voice of ignorance and xenophobia. Congratulations to the AP crew for sound, religious reporting.