Thursday, August 22, 2013

Prone to despair. . .

At one time I was much more in tune to the news than I am now.  I read a couple of weekly news magazines (can you recall when Newsweek or Time were actually NEWS magazines instead of liberal political commentaries - which killed off Newsweek?).  I watched the news at the news hours (5-7 pm with national and local news sharing the two hour slot).  I must confess that the more news outlets there are available, the less I pay attention to them.  Quite frankly, I am sick and tired of all of them.

The George Zimmerman marathon trial coverage was over the top.  The incessant need to make news and then to make this news urgent has taken its toll.  The Zimmerman trial is case in point.  It was tailor made for the media (liberal and conservative) and created a story where, at least locally, there was none.  The paid talking heads and those who feed on exposure (Al Sharpton among them) decided this was a story and the media created one.  When that story ended, the response and reaction to the verdict became the next created story.

Chesterton lived long before this era of routinely manufactured news but he saw it coming.  Common sense, always in short supply but now seemingly absent from the media and news, has turned us all into victims, self-inflicted because we watch it all and hang on every word.  The end result is often despair.  Chesterton says that journalism consists of saying “Lord Jones is Dead” to people who never knew that Lord Jones was alive.  Even though we did not know Lord Jones lived, we have become sad at his death.  Our grief is perhaps real enough to us but the end result is that we lack empathy for the dead whom we do know.  The Trayvon Martins of this world have sapped all our emotional energy and we are left cold and empty for the lives, sufferings, and deaths of those near to us.  Celebrities (Randy Travis) or wanna be celebrities (Cory Montieth) become the focus of our feelings while we are callous to the suffering and death that happen routinely (as city's reaction to the drug killings so rampant in Chicago).

...the news industry is that it “must be a picture made up entirely of exceptions”. The newspapers, says Chesterton, cannot announce the happiness of mankind at all. They cannot describe all the forks that are not stolen, or all the marriages that are not dissolved, all the murders that are not committed. And so they do not give a normal picture of life at all. “They can only represent what is unusual.”

Recently a person to whom I was conversing asked me if I were troubled by the news.  This person was having trouble sleeping at night for all the terrible news headlines dancing in the mind, fed by the words and images of the media.  I generally do not have trouble sleeping.  Maybe I am a terrible person but I am not tormented by the news.  Despair is one of the fruits of a diet too rich in the news and media; indifference is the other.  Both are bad.

Perhaps the most dangerous thing about our preoccupation with news, bad news, horrifying news, is that we have lost all sense of God's providence, of His presence amid disaster and death, and therefore of the hope that is ours in Christ.  Christians need to take care lest their addiction to the 24 hour news cycle saps their faith of the joy that is inherent in Christ and steals their confidence in the providential care of God and power of His sufficient grace to enable us to stand, to endure, and to persevere.

So I recommend that you be careful what you listen to... be careful what you watch... not because of the agenda of the largely liberal and progressive folks who control most of the news outlets but because our addiction to news, nearly all bad news, is like a cancer upon the soul of the Christian.  The effects of its progress are nearly always a loss of joy, confidence, courage, and peace.  These are already in short supply in this mortal life.  Let us be careful for whom and for what we surrender them.

For me, even my satellite radio on the car is not exclusively tuned to Fox News.  Often, more often than not, after a few moments I end up switching to classical music or to the treasure of sacred music on my I-Pod.  I find that when the poisonous tongue of the news threatens, nothing like Bach or Beethoven or Mendelssohn can restore a little calm and salutary effect to balance it all off.  I highly recommend it.


Janis Williams said...

Next up: News Theatre, where the anchor people act out the news....

Anonymous said...

The news has become so terrible in the last several years that I minimize my time watching it...and completely agree with you on your thoughts about news.

Many portrayed in "news" are either completely worthless (Lindsey Lohan in rehab again) or violent or negative. Most of it I don't need to know about or things I can't do anything about. The time previously spent watching this stuff has been replaced with reading things such as this blog! And I have to say, I'm much better off.

After taking a break from the news for a while, my family visited and had Fox on 24/7. What I noticed was the repetition of the same story over and over across several shows. To me, it felt like brainwashing and manipulation. I'm conservative and feel even all media (yes, even everyone's beloved FOX) incites division and hatred between people and rallies people against others. Think about what messages you are being fed constantly.

Interesting: The number of corporations owning US media outlets went from 50 to less than 5 in less than 20 years. The big 5 corps that own media: AOL Time Warner / Viacom / Walt Disney / Vivendi and Sony. Can you trust the people in these corps to not promote their various agendas or their ability to influence the population and continue to dumb us down with sex and violence.

You are right in saying that it attacks our peace and joy. Therefore:
"Come let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and perfecter of our Faith..."

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the reminder, Pr. Peters.

Anonymous said...

Pastor Peters wrote:

"This person was having trouble sleeping at night for all the terrible news headlines dancing in the mind, fed by the words and images of the media."

Mainstream media is for people who enjoy an endless diet of sports, trivia, celebrity gossip, and the police blotter.

I too, have trouble sleeping, but for different reasons. For those independent, alternative blogs that dare speak the truth, well.....the truth can be even scarier.

Is it God's plan to allow the world to turn into a Sodom and Gomorrah-style, 3rd world police state. All the evils of this world make me want to run away and hide from it all.

Anonymous said...

A few more "eye opening" alternative websites:

Marke said...

I, too, prefer classical music on my radio in the car. I like to think it's the Holy Spirit's way of keeping me from committing vehicular manslaughter during rush hour.