“This idea–that there is a content called “the news of the day”–was entirely created by the telegraph (and since amplified by newer media)… the news of the day is a figment of our technological imagination. It is, quite precisely, a media event. We attend to fragments of events from all over the world because we have multiple media whose forms are well suited to fragmented conversation. Cultures without speed-of-light media…do not have news of the day.”
–Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death (1985)
“And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.” –1 John 2:17
An article published on the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission website addresses a significant but often invisible element of modern society: the News. As Christian parents, we communicate our values and beliefs by more than just what we say. As the adage goes: “More is caught than taught”. What lessons are our children learning by how we engage with and respond to our news sources?
As children of God, we are called to live in the light of Eternity (i.e. act like our Father, 1 John 1:5-7), ambivalent to the attitudes and desires of the world which continually pass away (1 John 2:15-17). Few things are more temporary than the daily news cycle which constantly shifts its gaze–more to titillate than to educate–through stories seemingly selected to stir fear, outrage, anxiety or pride… only to be forgotten and replaced in 24 hours. Is this emotional tug-of-war in harmony with the new life we have in Christ? In an effort to be well-informed world citizens are we instead being co-opted into conforming to old habits and desires?
Paul writes in Ephesians 4:11-24:
Christ himself gave [variously gifted servants] to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ…
…you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding …Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed.
That, however, is not the way of life you learned …You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
Rather than be “tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching”, we are commanded to actively develop a kingdom perspective characterized by:
- Unity in the Faith & Knowledge of the Son of God
- Maturity in living like Jesus, speaking truth in love
- Stable in our understanding, no longer misled or distracted
- Renewed in the attitude (direction) of our minds
- Living as true image-bearers of God: overflow with goodness and life
Take some time to consider how your media consumption impacts both your spiritual maturity and the spiritual and emotional health of your family. As Neil Postman wrote, “daily news” is itself a new and limited idea, and while it constantly passes away, “the Word of the Lord remains forever.” (1 Peter 1:25)
- Where do you get your news (TV, Radio, Social Media, Friends, Magazines, Newspapers)?
- How much time do you spend in a week absorbing, sharing news, and being emotionally affected by the news media?
- What are the positive results of your news diet?
- Are there any “benefits” that are actually sin? (e.g. pride at being “in-the-know” , self-righteously comparing yourself to the world, people pleasing by being able to commiserate with friends)?
- Read Colossians 3:1-10. Is your news diet a source of life that draws you into living in the manner Paul describes?
- Read Romans 12:2. Does your news diet renew your mind, enabling you to live with confidence in the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God?
- What steps can you take to be more spiritual healthy in how you interact with the news?