Should We Watch the News?

poehler_meyersIt is a morning tradition at my house (and has been for years) that my wife and I get up, get ready, and have breakfast together while watching the morning news.

It's been at least 8-9 years now and something has started to shift in me.

I still love my wife and I will still eat breakfast (most important meal of the day!) but something has snapped within me regarding broadcast news - or any news for that matter, honestly.

The term I use to describe what I'm seeing is "tragedy porn" - the way each angle of human depravity and destruction is played up at full volume, complete with surveillance footage and 911 recordings that give horror a fourth dimension in the hearts and minds of those who take it in.

I think I've had enough.

My question here is whether or not those of us who are actively involved in becoming like Christ and addressing the mission objectives of justice and hope in our everyday world should be "informed" in this way? Is it important to our life in Christ to have an understanding of the darkness that is provided every moment by news outlets?

There is the competition for ratings that drives much of television news, not to mention the political biases (sorry to break this to you, but "fair and balanced" doesn't fetch ratings) and the attention spans of the normal viewer.

It's here that I return to Paul's word to the church at Philippi:

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 4:4-7, NIV)

I believe this teaching is worth committing to memory, and I'll often direct people who are dealing with impatience or out of control anger to memorize this verse and keep it close to the front of their mind. We are an anxiety-driven culture, anxious we won't have enough of ANYTHING and anxious that we may miss out on something if we don't know everything. Faith and trust are hard to come by in that kind of world. Antacid has become the anointing oil of the anxiety-culture we find ourselves in.

However, it is the verse that follows the passage above that strikes at the heart of my question about news:

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. (Phil. 4:8-9, NIV)

Peace. Lack of anxiety. Guarded hearts and minds.

There is no world in which these things are worthless and easily dismissed - they are like gold in the lives of those who live out the mission of Christ and seek to have their character overcome by His character.

Yet is it possible to digest the anger, partisanship, darkness, and fear-driven scripting that is the watermark of broadcast news?

I agree we need to know our world, but the question is: how do we know our world without losing our very soul? 

The discussion continues...