Sniffing Out Real News from the Garbage

I’ve never considered myself to be much of a prophet—not in the popular sense of the word.

If you read the Bible books that bear the names of the prophets of old, you’ll find, as my Old Testament professor was fond of saying, “The Old Testament prophets were more ‘forth-tellers’ than foretellers.”

Yes, indeed, some amazing foretelling, by God’s power, is certainly there. But much more involved was “forth-telling,” proclaiming whatever message God gave them to preach, and the forth-telling often caused these amazing God-servants a very high price. It was rarely much fun to be a prophet.

No, I’ve never been much of a prophet, not in the foretelling department. And probably not all that great in the forth-telling department either.

So, recently, I’ve been more surprised than anyone to discover in myself some hitherto unrecognized powers of prediction.

It works like this: if I’m perusing what claims to be news on my iPad or cell phone, and I see a headline, I’m often able to predict fairly accurately what particular news media organization is behind it. Alas, this is no proof of my “predictive” ability; it is a sign of rotten journalism.

I’m not sure that any of us, years ago, knew whether news anchor (and now news legend) Walter Cronkite leaned left or right politically. We just trusted him to give us the basic facts of the news and then let us decide what to make of that information.

But these days, just read the headline, and it’s not hard to figure out with just a couple or three guesses which media outlet is behind it. And I’ll bet my “powers” in this regard are not better than yours. Anyone who sifts through a compilation of media “reports” does this all of the time. We know that most of the “news” reports we hear are at least a little—and often, a lot—skewed by the political perspective of the organizations putting them forward. Unless we possess the mental capacity of an eggplant or just enjoy being manipulated, we’ve had to develop the good sense to know which way slanted news needs to be nudged to be more “bubble in the center” believable—and which needs to be tossed out with the garbage.

That, friends, points to a sorry state of affairs regarding journalism. Add in a social media-fed willingness to seek out and gorge ourselves with the slants and the flavors of the partial or total falsehoods we and “our bunch” most enjoy believing, and it’s a downhill spiral.

Peruse the compiled “news” stories on, say, Apple News or Flipboard or any other such compilation, and you’ll see some serious news items (but watch the bias), some frivolous news items about the latest celebrity marriages, failed marriages, and meltdowns, and more than a few “stories” so silly that they’d sully the National Enquirer. They’re all tossed in there together. And we must make a choice as to what matters and what is just salacious, stupid, voyeuristic, foolish, and insulting to the intelligence of the average 10-year-old. Only a very foolish person indeed would believe that it all is real, that it all matters, and that it all is equally important.

The media need to do a better job. We need to push for it and expect it. And we need to grow up, occasionally try thinking a rational thought, and be less willing to dance puppet-like as idea-barren politicians and loud media pundits derive power and ratings by pulling our strings.

It’s a wretched mess; allowing myself to “feed” on it can make me sick and cynical. I think a prescription for better spiritual health for me is this one: I need to spend more time bathing my soul in the written word of the One who “changes not,” no matter the day’s latest headlines. I need to spend more time talking to the One who knows us completely, who knows our every need, and who is always ready and willing to truly quench the thirst of parched souls.

His message is real news, good news, and filled to the brim with truth that we’ll never find on MSNBC, CNN, or FOX. I’m no prophet, but I predict that, focusing on our Father’s good news, we’ll find real joy. And the subscription is free.

You’re invited to visit my website, http://www.CurtisShelburne.com, and I hope you’ll take a look there at my new “Focus on Faith” Podcast. At the website, just click on “Podcast.” Blessings!

Copyright 2021 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.

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