I have a confession. I subscribe to publications from a variety of viewpoints in order to hear from voices on both ends of the spectrum. On social media, I do my best to keep the bars of my personal algorhythmic cage as widely-spaced as possible. And I always assume I’m missing something in every story. We all are. All to often, the missing element is truth.
We live in a world currently run by the one Jesus called “the ruler of this world” and “a liar and the father of lies” (see John 12:31, 14:30, John 8:44). To find the truth, you have to research and think deeply and logically about what you read or watch. You cannot merely consume.
The Friday after the most recent election, my inbox was filled with the typical sales flyers and political emails. Among them were a selection of Red and Blue propaganda pieces loaded with highlights, bold type, red letters, shrieking capitals, and shameless abuse of the exclamation point.
Propaganda to my left and right both made similar claims:
- The election results are hanging in the balance!!!!!
- The stakes are the highest they’ve ever been!!!!!
- YOUR EMERGENCY CONTRIBUTION IS URGENTLY NEEDED TO FIGHT BACK against the enemy of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness!!!!!!
- EVERYTHING IS BURNING AND WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE!!! NOW IS A TIME FOR UNADULTURATED PANIC!!!
I have to wonder why the stakes are higher now than, say, when Hitler and Stalin made blood-soaked bids for world domination or when our own fledgling nation tore itself apart at a time when some people wanted to own other people. I thought those stakes were pretty high.
But I also have other questions:
- How, precisely, will my donation impact the results of an election that took place three days prior?
- Assuming my rushed contribution manages to (alarmingly) sway the counting of votes, how can I be sure all the swaying won’t cause fatal fractures in the whole structure?
- If both Red and Blue are threatening to destroy my liberty, who am I supposed to believe will preserve it?
You get the picture. But it isn’t just politics. The American media seems to have won a bloodless coup far more effective than all the concentration camps, purges, and gulags combined.
Just Keep Spinning
In his fine book, Amusing Ourselves to Death, Neil Postman opined that Huxley’s pleasure-dominated society in Brave New World comes closer to today’s America than Orwell’s hate-based domination portrayed 1984.
For the most part, I agree. However, Orwell’s dystopia did absolutely nail humanity’s brief attention span.
To see what I mean, all you have to do is refuse to scarf down the news like fast food fries. Instead, take time to test and discern the flavors. Look for articles with emotionally-charged language or “facts” that seem to contrast with other articles.
A simple example is the media handling of unborn babies. From one perspective, you’ll find pieces in support of a woman’s “right” to terminate a pregnancy. Yet you can also find stories where a mother and her unborn child were both murdered. In the first style of story, there is no body count; just a natural consequence eliminated. In the other, the body count is two. One is a right, the other is murder.
A careful reader of today’s news might note that the answer to the question, “When does life begin?” appears to be, “Whenever it best suits the agenda of the person you are asking.”
Our newsfeeds are full of similar contradictions covering a wide range of topics. All of them prey on a population whose collective memory seems to extend no further than seconds into the past and whose attention span is easily caught by the next shiny scandal. We move from mayhem and murder to enjoying quirky cat videos with a seamlessness rivaled only by the criminally insane.
I would argue that, apart from Christ, criminally insane is precisely what we are.
Lost and Found
But like it or not, there is such thing as truth – even if it seems to be missing in the public square. An incredible Book I’m addicted to reading mentioned as much:
Justice is turned back, and righteousness stands far away; for truth has stumbled in the public squares, and uprightness cannot enter. Truth is lacking, and he who departs from evil makes himself a prey. The LORD saw it, and it displeased him that there was no justice.
These words were written in the 700s BC. Truth, it seems, has been MIA for a very long time.
Strange though it may seem, all this madness actually encourages me. Such ruminations help me remember that human depravity and sickness of mind are as old as the Fall. It reminds me that there truly is nothing new under the sun.
What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.
What’s more, I know that while it may appear that Truth is nowhere to be found, it’s actually never been far off. Truth is as close as the wind on your cheek, as real as your heartbeat, as wide as the sky – for all of creation, including your body, contain evidence of the Truth that brought them into being.
Even better, we’ve been given a tangible document, the Word of Truth, as a gift to avoid making careless assumptions. Our feelings often override the evidence of our senses, and the God who made us knows this and gave us His Word as a reminder. Cultural norms will come and go, nations will rise and fall, lies will be tossed around like dodgeballs, but the Word of God will stand forever.
And because of this truth, we can have confidence that one day, the Truth will out.