Doce me faces voluntarem tuam quia Deus meus es tu

Thursday, September 30, 2004
Here is my response to part two of Al Mohler's series on Christians and the media.

I'll work with same format as my last blog on this topic, which is posted below. And now...

Principle Six: The likelihood of being uninformed and misinformed increases as the number of news sources decreases.

Me: Not necessarily! While filters and biases exist in the media, there was time when one could pick up the morning paper and listen to or watch the evening news and get a pretty general idea of what was going on. The problem here is Dan Rather, Peter Jennings and Tom Brokaw, it is not an inherent trait. The current problems with MSM are just that - current. We can fix these problems and, to some degree, return to a point where on the whole we can rely on our morning papers and evening news.

Principle Seven: Beware the error of following the crowd.

Me: I'm not sure the point here. Beward of the mob is good advice at all times, not just as it regards the media. Mohler's broader goal in all of this seems to reinforce a proper worldview, which is sorely needed if anyone gives the Dixie Chicks or Whoopie Goldberg the time of day.

Principle Eight: Those who get their news only from broadcast media are missing much of the story, and much of its significance

Me: Again, not necessarily. There is not inherent problem with broadcast media. The problem is the biases of the journalists and producers, not in the format itself. Most Americans simply don't have the time to read the blogosphere or any number of alternative media source. Mohler is speaking to the current problem with tv and radio news, but I think his point loses some of its strength the minute the New York Times and CBS News (and CNN and ABC and ...) demonstrate some accountability and begin reporting the facts. I'll argue that we should always seek more information, if it's nothing more than reading U.S. News or Time. But there are limits to what each individual can do, and that is one reason why the MSM must be reformed.

Principle Nine: When it comes to issues of importance, turn off the tube and think.

Me: Excellent point. The evening news has a lot of bad stuff in it. Hurricanes have been the order of the day lately. But a thinking Christian should know the difference between a hurricane and genocide. Hurricanes just happen, and all we can do is offer our prayers and support (money, material goods, labor) to the victims. Genocide in Sudan can be stopped and in some cases prevented. Christians should know the difference. We are useless if we can't make the distinction.

Principle Ten: Use the news media as material for worldview analysis

Me: Sigh. The sky is falling, isn't it? Look, there's a lot of worldview analysis to be done by watching Bill O'Reilly or Dr. Phil or the ladies on the View. Alan Colmes, Rush Limbaugh and Hugh Hewitt all have a worldview that determines the presentation of their radio programs. However, a properly fucntioning, objective media shouldn't have much of a worldview to interject.

Here's a scenario. The Bush National Gaurd story comes up. We know that Bush was in the TANG and that he served for several years. The evening news could say the Bushies say point A, and the Kerry group says point B. If Brit Hume simply states what the facts say with documentation, there is no worldview at work. He could then refer viewers to Hannity and Colmes to see the topic debated. Worldview would then come into play, as Hannity argues one thing, Colmes goes for another thing.

Worldview might come into play in this regard. An editor feels strongly about the post-hurricane suffering in Haiti. He or she might order a story to appear on CNN or Fox or what have you. But even then, while worldview determined the story's appearance in the program, it didn't necessarily have any impact on how the story was told. I guess if Linda Vester said "the Godless savages are experiencing divine punishment for their sinful ways" in response to the AIDS crisis Africa, worldview might come into play. But she didn't. Seriously, Linda, I think you're great, so please don't sue me. It was just an example.

I think Mohler has made some great points, though I fear that he might be preaching to the choir in a lot of respects. I also think he's making a few mountains out of molehills. The MSM is a corrupt institution, but that is not its permanent state. Mohler provides a Christian response, but he does little to offer a way for Christians to change the circumstances. Christians can make a change, either by voting with the remote control and waller, or by being mature Christians who work in the media. Is that such a novel idea? We need the media, and the current problems with it cannot be reduced to an us vs. them mentality.

The good in all of this is that Mohler is encouraging engagement, which is needed. He does not resort to oft-heard cries of a godless media hellbent on destroying the Church. I simply wish that his principles on the matter extended further. Nothing is permanent, an in this sense Christians can be part of the revolution, not just the reaction.
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