Friday, December 10, 2021

Information overload. . .

One of the problems with COVID has been the information dumps that regularly take place by the CDC, the President, and the media.  It is simply too much information.  People are no longer hearing anything  because they are hearing too much and hearing too many different things.  That is what happens when we hear too much and when we hear it dumped on us over and over again -- we stop listening.  Even to the things that are true and beneficial for us to know!  Although the agencies and their spokespeople are the culprits in this, the media are those who make it happen.  We no longer value truth as much as who is the first to report things and we no longer wait for clarity but pursue a conclusion with the barest of facts before us.  This is what the 24 hour new cycle has done.  It has put the emphasis on how fast things get out rather than upon the clarity or accuracy of what is reported.  The talking heads and experts would have nothing to say if they did not have the space given them to fill with the tacit encouragement that accuracy and truth are not as essential as being the first to air something.  

It might seem strange to suggest that we have too much information.  For a very long time, it might have seemed like information was precisely what was missing for most folks.  When it took a couple of weeks before anyone realized that World War I had even begun, you might think that the problem was timing.  Maybe it was, in part.  But now we find ourselves daily barraged with information that is current but often unclear or unsubstantiated and we are in the opposite position of our ancestors.  We think we no everything because we have the technology to know what is happening while it is happening.  How often don't you hear people say that they have researched something -- only to find that this means they have paid attention to what comes in the social media feeds instead of pursued something more than what was the factoid of the moment?

As true as this is for the culture, it is also true of the Church.  All our technology and all our social media have turned every one into a religious expert who knows better than anyone and everyone else what is true, what is right, and what is correct.  Every crackpot and kook has a venue provided by our technology and we have the right to listen only to those who agree with us.  Again, as bad as this is for our culture, it is even worse for the Church.  The central focus of the Church is not on information but on truth.  It is not how much you know but who you know and how you know Him.  Knowledge is not the primary commodity of the Church but faith and trust.

This is why I have warned about Bible studies that impart information to satisfy curiosity but do not focus on building us up in the faith.  We live in an age in which more books, journals, and internet sites are devoted to increasing Christian knowledge but sometime at the very expense of the faith itself.  The things of Scripture are treated more as curiosities that faith and the center of the Scripture is not Christ.  How does all of that information help the Christian grow in faith?  Furthermore, some of things actually become a distraction to the faith and to the faithful.  In the end, too much information is as much of a problem as too little.  Where there was once a hunger for the things of God, there is replaced a fullness that translates into laziness and boredom.  If we are doing things right, preaching increasing the yearning for more and faith that insists "I believe" is accompanied with the prayer, "Lord, help my unbelief."  If we are doing things wrong, then the Scriptures become a book of trivia to satisfy interest without pointing to Christ or building up the faith.

1 comment:

Michael Taylor said...

There is enough information for everyone to believe enough things so that there is a daily and changing tower of Babel