In an effort to stay informed and capable of speaking to the issues of our culture, I catch my share of secular news media—unfortunately. And as I do, nearly every moment, I have to remind myself of a few things. If I lose sight of these things, invariably the situation seems dire, the news—hopeless, the future—bleak, and God—just plain mean.
And lately, it’s out of control! It’s like Satan is ramping up the rhetoric. The message I hear most in secular media—the message behind the message is—“Be fearful and be angry (mostly at God!)”
Here are some things I have to drill into my own head when talking heads are trying to drill another message:
1. Secular Media is Humanistic—The talking heads and those behind them serve the purposes of the prince of the power of the air. They are driven by another king, led by another spirit, and fulfilling a humanistic purpose—the evolution, preservation, perpetuation, and ultimate deification of mankind. Man is God. Man’s knowledge, man’s wisdom, man’s forward motion, mans’ societal development. Man, man, man—even when God is brought into the picture, He is generally meant to serve man’s purposes.
2. Secular Media is Sensationalistic—The news cycle of modern America, at least on the surface, is driven by what holds the attention of the average American. It’s not about news or information. It’s about dollars and ratings. Dollars are driven by ratings, and ratings are driven by what holds your attention—entertainment. What holds attention must be entertaining—it must be ever more sensational, fatalistic, fearful, worrisome. Nothing holds our attention like tragedy, mayhem, and devastation. Nothing captivates us like fear itself!
Unlike the fiction writers and producers—who at least “make up” their stories, the secular news media is driven to capitalize on the catastrophic—to make entertainment out of emergencies. And with a planet the size of ours, there are always real human tragedies unfolding that will amuse or hold (entertain) attention of viewers long enough to sell airtime.
Remember, they aren’t trying to report what is true, what is important, what is valuable, what is needful, or what is essential (though in rare instances this may be the case.) (See Phil.4:8) No, the center of the target is attention—whatever gets attention. And in the event of not having something sensational, powerful, outrageous enough to hold attention—they will make something up or sensationalize the unsensational to demand attention. It’s all a mad rat-race to find the story that sticks—that story that will cause American emotions to salivate for more, watch longer, retweet and share more feverishly. Every now and, then, just stop and ask yourself, “Why is this news?” Rarely is the answer, “Because it’s important.” Usually the answer is, “Because it’s sensational and entertaining (often in a sick sort of way.)”
3. Secular Media is Fatalistic—No matter what day your turn on the news, the situation will be nearing a point of total devastation. In the past week, we have gone from the end of free America (through the presidential election) to the end of the East Coast (through hurricane Sandy) to the end of the economy (through the fast approaching “fiscal cliff.) Think about it. Every day this week, TV news has handed us something over which we should feel GREAT anxiety and consternation. As soon as the election was over, suddenly there’s a fiscal cliff! It’s like the assembly line is backed up with tomorrow’s fatalistic frenzy.
Simply put—hopelessness sells. It’s what works. It keeps ratings high and income streams fat. You are the consumer, and your emotions are the prize. Every day, secularists are selling hopelessness, and American’s can’t buy enough of it. And as soon as today’s crisis is old news or loses enough interest to maintain your attention, it’s tossed aside like a deflated inner tube, and the next crisis is bumped up to lead story or front page. The cycle will never end, because American’s desperate for hope are hungry enough to feast anxiously on despair.
4. Secular Media Wants You to be Angry at God—This is where it’s all so very diabolical. If you listen, there’s an unspoken message in hopelessness. There’s an unnamed enemy. There’s an indirect, subconscious directive being implanted into the human heart through hopelessness. That directive—“Be angry at God—after all, it’s all HIS FAULT!”
No, a news anchor won’t come right out and say that, but that absolutely is the final conclusion that every man and woman is drawn toward in processing all the emotional and spiritual hopelessness being marketed on the airwaves. Here’s an example.
The day after the election, as snow began to fall in the northeast, I listened as a mainstream commentator sighed in disbelief, shook his head with wonder, and said, “It’s makes you wonder how much more these people are supposed to be able to take.”
I understand people are hurting. I’m not minimizing the tragedy or the suffering or the loss. I’m simply pointing out the subtle message of media—hopelessness and anger at God. Think about that statement—“It’s makes you wonder how much more these people are supposed to be able to take.” The statement subtly infers a causitive being behind these events. It implies that these events are being forced on humanity by some unfair deity who overestimates man’s ability to “take” what deity dishes out. It implies a God who is our enemy, implicates Him as our perpetual persecutor, and the logical response or reaction is, “Be angry at God.”
There are many take aways from this. Is God sovereign over weather, elections, and economies? Yes. Does God use these events to pursue human hearts? Yes. Is all of this the result of sin and a fallen, broken, Godless world? Yes. To try to judge God’s motives, question God’s heart, or doubt His nature (goodness, justice, love, and grace) is always a huge step out of bounds. It’s an over-reach of the human intellect to try to grasp God’s ways, His logic, or to prejudge His ultimate process in working all things together for God.
God is good. He is all good. He is always good. All good comes from Him. All good is a gift from Him. And God is working all things for your good (if you belong to Him) and for His ultimate eternal purpose.
God is not the enemy. Satan and sin are. Hopelessness is not the only option. You don’t have to drink the media’s cool-aid. It’s one thing to catch up on world events, it’s another thing to swallow the sales pitch of hopelessness. If you do, you will be a most anxious, fearful, discontented, and disturbed Christian—all of which are directly opposed to the promises, commands, nature, and gifts of God to you.
It’s one thing for secular media to be angry at God. It’s to be expected that those who don’t know Him would despise and blame Him. God tells us that friendship with the world is enmity with God. The world generally chooses to reject God, that’s just how it is.
But Christians? I think too many Christians are buying hopelessness and despair. I think too many Christians are drinking the cool-aid of contempt against God. We may never admit we’re angry at Him. We may not even grasp the subtle, almost subconscious shift—but in our hearts that could be the very essence of our attitudes.
Never forget—He is very, very, very good—even when circumstances are bad! And He will never leave you nor forsake you. You always have hope in Christ.
The worst of times have always been around and always will—until the end of time. (And yes, He already tells us, things will get worse before they get better.) Can you imagine if there had been a CNN or FoxNews around during the tower of Babel debacle, the flood, the famines, the exodus journey, the Old Testament battles, Elijah on Mt. Carmel, Jeremiah prophesying Nebuchadnezzar’s take over of the known world, and on and on the list goes? It would have all been God’s fault—never man’s. The message is, “If God would leave us alone, we could live our lives in peace and prosperity.”
Snap out of it, Christian. Don’t let mainstream media—whether liberal or conservative—hold your emotions in their marketing hands. Don’t buy the lie of hopelessness. Don’t go down the path of despair and subtle resentment toward your God. Don’t let the underlying message of mass media produce within you a contempt of your Christ.
As the world continues to position itself more staunchly and defiantly against God—choose you this day Whom you will serve! And don’t let your heart get sucked into that subtle “enmity with God.”
God is not the enemy. He is the one who offers to SAVE us from the enemy! Keep your head right, by His grace, and don’t let mass media get into it!