I have a question. I did not grow up watching the news and my parents never really talked about current events. I realize how little I understand the current events of the world, and I lack interest. However, I realize that in society it can be beneficial to read the news, however some say it can get depressing and/or biased reading what is happening around the world.
Do you have any advice on how I can get to know the world around me and not get too overwhelmed? Are there any biblical benefits to reading current events and becoming a more well-informed adult?
I imagine there are a lot of young people who can relate at some level to where you are. Let's face it, current events and news programming (outside the world of sports or entertainment) are fairly low on the interest scale of most young people — at least that was the case with me (and I turned out to be a journalism major!).
But alas, at some point we must grow in our awareness of the larger world around us in order to help give some context to where and who we are in that broader picture of history. That isn't as difficult as it sounds, actually, but I would like to offer some guiding principles for where to get your information and how to process it.
Most importantly, if we don't have a decent grasp of what God is about in history and where He is taking it, the events of the natural world will seem a jumbled mess. So make the Kingdom of Heaven — creation, the Fall, and redemption (now and future) — your primary concern, and you'll have the proper context for processing current events.
You need to know that in back of the unfolding of natural, seen events is the unseen activity of a supernatural world where God is sovereignly working, bringing about His plans. As thousands of natural events fly past us in a lifetime, the reality of a God who is completely in control, who never sleeps, who actually laughs at the plans of nations who conspire against Him, and who has told us where He is taking it all, keeps us anchored and at peace.
As for becoming informed of current events, just know that every source has a lens through which they see things. Some will be more aligned with your view and some will be less so. But every news outlet, be it broadcast, newspaper, magazine or Internet site, all have people, not robots, bringing you the reports. Not all is necessarily "advocacy" journalism, but all have a view. That isn't to say don't use a source that isn't perfectly aligned with your view of the world (that would be difficult to find), but simply be aware of the lens.
So you need to be discerning about your sources. The expansion of cable news outlets and the explosion of Internet news sites has really given us more options from which to choose, not just for news but also for commentary, options that only a few years ago were not available.
But increased options, while on the whole I believe to be a positive thing, require greater discernment. As you "try out" different sources for news and commentary, it won't be long before a few rise to the surface as the ones you know you can rely on as credible.
As for news and commentary from a distinctively Christian perspective, I of course recommend Focus on the Family's Citizen magazine as well as the equally excellent World magazine. There are many more, but those are two great places to start your journey.
A final thought. Beware of the temptation to feel like you must know and understand everything that's going on in the world — that you can't miss a thing! You can't know and understand everything, and if you could it would so overwhelm you, you wouldn't be able to sleep at night. Omniscience is reserved for only One.
The sheer amount of information available to us can be overwhelming. And in order for the 24/7 news culture to keep churning, it has to keep increasing the hype. Everything is breaking!, as if you absolutely must stay tuned or you will miss an historical moment, and it is almost always negative. It's ridiculous, really.
I say this as a well-informed Christian with a degree in journalism: I've gotten to the place where I actively consume very little news anymore (my careers haven't always afforded me that opportunity), yet I've not missed any major events. Our home has only basic television cable with the three major networks, and if I ever turn it on, it's usually for the weather. Most of my information comes from a little time spent here and there on the Internet, then I move on. Learning to say "no" can be a helpful habit when it comes to consumption of news.
If you will keep the Good News in the front of your mind, be discerning about your sources, and use caution on your amount of intake, you'll be off to a great start.
Copyright 2010 John Thomas. All rights reserved.