The news seems to be at an all time low. I think I missed all the good stories during my finals week. I was so tired that I failed to read up on the stuff coming out of Iran, I have no idea what happened in Lebanon earlier this semester, and I paid no attention to the whole fillibuster thing going on in the Senate. So, I think I will discuss something pertinent to the news.
It takes oodles of time to keep up on what's going on in this world. I know many people who keep up on some portion or other. I have friends who can rattle off all the economic news of the day. I have friends who can tell you exactly what's happening in the American government and why it matters domestically. I have friends who keep up on what person could run against Hillary in 2008, because that's such a major concern. I have friends who can tell you every miniscule victory that Republicans win around the country. Then there's my former debate coach who knows crap about everything and likes to point out why Karl Rove has no conscious. I have heard some people talk about how news is bad for people especially as Christians and we should not keep up on it. While there are verses in the Bible stating that those who fear God ought to bar evil from entering their minds, I tend to disagree with the way this is interpreted.
My approach to the news differs. I agree that as a Christian I ought to be careful what I put into my head, however not so extreme as to exclude all news. I also believe that if you keep up with the news for the right reasons it is acceptable. Some people attend to the events of the world simply because they want personal gain. Either they want a certain position, or they want to show off to all their friends. Showing off is more common. It is possible to become almost addicted to current events. I mean, take a look at Rush Limbaugh. And the fact is everyone has a different opinion about any given current event. Most of us assume that our opinion is right and get annoyed at people with other opinions.
In short, this is a messy subject that appears to have no straight answers. How should we look at the news? How should we view the world? What is extreme when it comes to watching the passage of events? Is it right to censor everyone who reads a newspaper? Personally, I have seen Christians grow angry at other Christians for buying a newspaper. And I have seen other Christians revel in the news until they know every sick detail about every person or event that could be called "newsworthy."
Neither of those options seems appropriate to me. I read the news so that I can know the arguments surrounding various events, and so that I know what is going on around me. Someday I may be in a position where I will have to remember many of the things that happened in my lifetime and it would be unfortunate if I had to catch up on everything all of sudden because I was too slow to pay attention while it was happening. Besides, if you wait and catch up later you do not immerse yourself enough so that you know all the paradigms of your entire history. That is to say, catching up never works as well as just knowing at the time. This does not answer the universal questions either. To what extent should a Christian be informed about the world around them?
The Bible says to be as shrewd as serpants and as innocent as doves. To me that means that we should understand human nature in the course of great events, and act in a way that is self controlled. Essentially, as Christians we should know what is around us, but not become like it. This does not mean that we ignore the pain of our fellow man because it is evil to read a newspaper. Nor does it mean that we read about another's sorrows in a lighthearted or happy way. Many is the person I know who will turn to me in response to some horrible event in say Africa and say, "I'll just stay in the USA," or, "Glad I don't live there." That is a callous response, God asks us to be thankful of our circumstances, not gleeful at the misfortunes we miss out on. Neither extreme is appropriate. I would point out that Jesus himself did not ignore the events of his time on earth as a man. He sought first God's kingdom. That perhaps is the most important point. In understanding events we should seek first the kingdom of God, and then we will not be acting according our own interests. We will know not so that we can ignore, laugh at, or look better than others. We will know so that we can respond to God's callings with understanding, instead of ignorance.
Thus, in response to these all important questions, I suggest that we understand human nature even as we read the news, and ask God to help us control our own. Hold God's purposes above the events of this earth, but do not ignore those events, for God's purposes may be found within them as well.