How I Read the News

February 11, 2011

The news comes fast and furious these days, from a variety of sources. Online, on the phone, someone texting you, Twitter, Facebook, cable news. We’re long from the days when news came from three TV sources, the all-news radio station, and your daily newspaper. Truthfully, I’m getting most of my news these days from Twitter. I follow a few journalists in areas of interest, such as politics, sports, the church, and publishing.

In many ways it’s good, keeping the media accountable and revealing the hidden biases. But in other ways, it’s difficult to process the news, because it seems, increasingly, to be delivered by competing ideologies.

So how should people of faith read, interpret, and process the news? I’m not sure how you do it, but here’s a few steps I take when something breaks:

  • Hold that thought. I’m trying, though not always succeeding, to take in as much information as I can before I render an opinion. I’m reminded of James words to the early church, words that may be more relevant in this age than every before. We read in James 1:19 that believers ought to be “swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.” In other words, don’t jump to conclusions. Get some facts. That runs counter to the instant Twitter world in which we live, but I think it’s wise for Christians to sort of set the bar high.
  • Everything is not political. Seems there is a rush these days to take breaking events and find the political angle. It’s usually the second or third question on cable news shows. Who does this benefit? Who does this hurt? Whose to blame? If you’re a conservative, you’re looking naturally for the way you can hang liberals with the story. If you’re a liberal, you’re looking for the “gotcha moment” for conservatives. But not all issues break that cleanly.
  • Everyone is an expert. Seems everyone has an opinion these days. Everybody is a pundit. Everybody is a critic. But it’s really okay to not saying anything if you’re not very knowledgable on the subject. It’s okay to say, “I don’t know.” This uprising in Egypt is a classic case. I’ve been impressed by the way most politicians on both sides as well as pastors, public officials, etc have basically said, “We’re not sure what’s going to happen, but we pray for the people of Egypt.”
  • How can we bring glory to God? We should ask ourselves, in our conversations, in our Facebook and Twitter posts, can we bring glory to God? Sometimes we surrender our Christianity when it comes to opining on the news. I do this. But if someone read our posts, would they say to themselves, There is a follower of Christ? We should try to bring light to the issue and situation, not in a pious, condescending, holier-than-thou way, but in a way that maintains respectful conversation.
  • What’s the Heavenly angle? The easiest thing to do when a news story, especially a negative one, occurs, is to immediately surrender to fear and fear-mongering. The media likes to cover the loudest voice and often those voices spread great fear. Sometimes news stories are fearful and worrisome. But Christians, Paul told Timothy, were not given the Spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). Kingdoms and nations will rise and fall, but we know and understand that Jesus is alive, is the KIng, and will make all things right in His time. That’s not just a Pollyanna statement. I believe that with all of my heart. We don’t have to fear people or movements or isms. All of these are part of the sweep of history, held in perfect balance in the hand of God.

Those are a few of the ways I look at the news. But I’m in no ways perfect and I often given to worldly thinking about the news. I’m curious how you view the news.