Media bias is nothing new

Hopefully most of you understand that media bias has been a reality since before “media” was even a word. Sometimes though I do wonder if this reality has escaped our society’s conscious mind and slipped into the ether of, shall I say, ignorance? I certainly don’t say this to be mean spirited because that is not my intention at all. The time has finally arrived though that leaves me shaking my head on a daily basis, wondering why people (in general) are so easily sucked into very blatantly biased stories and articles.

On one hand it appears that too many readers (or listeners) have no idea that they are being tricked into believing this way or that way through a crafty selection of emotionally charged words. Then I realize that some of these people that react as the writer predicted should know better and some are even writers themselves. These people know how to piece together a convincing story that drives their audiences to predetermined conclusions, opinions, or reactions.

Other people that I have interacted with, both online and in person, seem to think that this media bias is a new concept that has no place in a proper society. While I might agree for the most part the latter part of such an opinion, the first part is simply not true.

I remember well the very first time I caught on to this historical fact. I was doing some research for a US Civil War book and became very interested in the Lincoln-Douglas debates. To find out more about this historic period I turned to a number of newspaper articles. It was interesting to me to read the different points of view, but what really caught my attention was what I discovered about the papers themselves. As it turned out, Republican and Democratic groups had long ago stumbled onto this phenomenon and they purposefully started newspapers to bolster their cause.

Now, these papers weren’t overtly marked as the official newspaper of this or that party, but when you look into the editors, writers and supporters of each paper it was very clear that these were partisan rags, not impartial journals of fair and balanced news coverage.

More recently I came across evidence of media manipulation even earlier than the US Civil War. If you read the diaries and correspondences of the 1700’s, you’ll find so much evidence of manipulation through the “media” than you could possibly devour in a lifetime. Some of it (then and now) wasn’t even published for partisan advantage.

Competition for readers was just as important then as it is today. It has been an entertaining and enlightening exercise to learn about 4 such competing papers in the colony of Virginia. A person would naturally think that four different papers would distinguish themselves with different names, but in this case that would be an incorrect assumption. Apparently in an effort to confuse the public for the pure chance of picking up their paper, all of them named themselves the “Virginia Gazette.”

If that wasn’t enough, these newspapers contrived quite a nasty method to convince the public to purchase their product. As the population was predominantly English, there was the unfortunate reality that such people looked down upon the people of Scotland with much fervor. The newspapers injected false letters to the editor between faked personas that appeared to be waging a personal war of words. As it turned out, the characters in these letters never even existed and the letters were written by the publishers themselves.Some of these exchanges were recorded in Ivor Humes book, 1775 Another Part of the Field. He wrote,

“I have pursued this journalistic exercise for some distance because it well illustrates the kind of devices which colonial newspaper publishers used to exacerbate the prejudices and rivalries of their readers, while masking their purpose behind a guise of good-humored impartiality.”

I wonder if there is any hope left that people in today’s “enlightened” society may ever fully understand the way in which they allow the media to tug, push, pull and antagonize their emotions for reasons far removed from simply informing the public of the things of truth. Such thinking may indeed be folly because I know much about the writing craft and (fortunately or unfortunately) the predominant motivation behind just about any story, article, or other such work is to illicit a response. It would be a wonderful world to live in if such responses were delayed somewhat while the reader poses what truth may or may not be hidden in the well-chosen words, but the evidence is not there just yet.

2017 – The year of my writing resurgence

It really is hard to believe that it has been 3 years since I wrote on my writing blog, but facts are facts. I look back over those three years and realize just how much chaos was going on. We struggled to sell our house, ended up in a temporary rental twice as long as we had planned and then finally last year we were able to move into our beautiful country home.

Then came barn building, fence stretching, machine-fixing, and animal raising. It was all quite a learning curve, but I think we are finally in a place where I can once more get back to the writing craft I so enjoy.

In fact, I’ve already written articles for two clients in this first month of the year. Not a bad re-start. It will certainly take some time to get back up to speed with the changes in the writing market, but I look forward to the challenge.

Worldview Wednesday – A Christian Model of Social Activism

© mzachaChristians have long struggled to find a balance between the Great Commission and the Cultural Mandate. Some of this is due in great part to the fact that many Christians are completely unaware of the Cultural Mandate. Others who are aware of the mandate often engage one another with sizeable debate as to just how to go about fulfilling it. On the other hand, the Great Commission is widely recognized throughout Christendom. It is this commission that has kept the kingdom growing across the centuries. Even so, the proper application of this commission also creates sizeable debate as to how to achieve it.

In both instances there are those Christians who tend to gravitate towards one or the other and in doing so become quite overzealous in their application of it. The two “camps” then proceed to emphasize the one while understating the other. Let’s make a quick review of both issues first, before we begin to apply their meanings.

The Cultural Mandate

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Genesis 1:26-28 ESV)

It is very clear through this passage that God created mankind for a distinct purpose. To restate it in simple terms, we are to have children and properly utilize the resources of the earth. Deviation from this point is where the great debate ensues. Many Christians view this as a directive to mold every aspect of global (and local) culture into obedience of God. This includes aspects of political dominance and social doctrine. Some Christians, on the other hand, view this as a simpler model of living that requires the proper raising of families and a balanced utilization of the earth’s resources. Neither of these views are mutually-exclusive, but in many methods of application they are indeed opposed to each other.

The Great Commission

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20 ESV)

This passage appears to be a very straightforward command, but it too has various interpretations. There have been zealots that have overstepped their authority to “make disciples” and instead embarked on violent missions to subdue people into submission. In this case, those living under a totalitarian regime based upon perverted religious mandates are by no means disciples; they are instead subjects to a brutal master. Because of the many mistakes in our past, many Christians shy away from any activity that would place them in direct opposition to the secular society around them. These Christians tend to move quietly about their daily business unsure of whom to witness to and thus disciple.

Application

Make no mistake, there have been great men and women of both the Cultural Mandate and Great Commission “camps,” who have successfully navigated them both. This, however, is not the norm. All one has to do is pay attention to current news stories to understand there is an imbalance taking place. Well-meaning Christians have long attempted to “overthrow” the processes of government in order to institute their own understanding of submission and dominion. In similar fashion there have been men and women (commonly referred to as “Bible-Thumpers” who demand complete obedience to a law-centered religion apart from the culture.

The end result is a combined misunderstanding of Christianity, by both the secular and spiritual societies of the world. One side eventually grows tired of the other and because they remain at odds, neither are compatible. So just how is a Christian supposed to live out the particulars of a Cultural Mandate AND a Great Commission? Aside from Jesus Christ himself, perhaps one of the greatest examples we have is that of Paul the Apostle.

Throughout the account of Paul’s missionary journeys, there are no examples of him raising up mass demonstrations against local governments in order to achieve the calling God placed upon his life. Instead, Paul’s daily work was the craft of making tents. Through this understanding of the Cultural Mandate, Paul utilized the skills given him in order to provide for the sustainability of families and businesses (while also supporting himself and his mission).

While on mission, Paul did not march to the local magistrate and demand justice for the people. When he visited a city, his typical targets were the houses of worship and synagogues. Here Paul spoke the message of the Great Commission and many believed. Those that did not utilized political forces to usher him out of their cities, but on many occasions Paul simply returned to the Great Commission within that jurisdiction. In doing so, Paul influenced communities by changing the hearts of the people, not by enacting legislation or by forcible submission to the gospel.

By doing things in such a manner, Paul emulated the life of Jesus Christ. He didn’t seek recognition or power for himself or those around him; instead he sought to bring people new life and new understanding. The result was a lasting cultural change and an enduring legacy of disciple making that lasts to this very day. Should we too benefit our culture through emulation of men like Jesus and Paul, or should we continue to falter, trying to understand our own way of doing things?

Worldview Wednesday – Praying for Patience

© juliaf We’ve probably all been there at one time or another. That place in life where we find ourselves feeling cornered by the many pressures of life. The near breaking point causes many, if not most, of us to “pray for patience” in order to weather the storm. As Christians, we go to the Bible for answers and it can be a frustrating experience when God’s Word simply tells us not to worry. It should be a simple thing to do since there are a number of verses telling us in such plain language not to engage in the activity of worry.

From our own experience we know that worrying is not good for us in many ways and it can often lead to rash decisions that lead to further catastrophe which is then added to our worries. We can verify our experience against what scripture tells us is the inevitable consequence of worry. Proverbs 12:25 tells us that, “Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad.” Our experience also tells us that worrying honestly does not produce relief and again we can read this truth in scripture, “And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life.” (Matthew 6:27, ESV)

Whether or not we acknowledge these things in the moment of weakness and worry, we eventually find these truths to be very real. Once we have passed through the times that gave us trouble we can look back and examine how unprofitable the worry was for our particular situation, but it doesn’t resolve the reason why we worried. It also often does not provide us the comfort we need the next time something stressful enters into our life.

So what is the answer? Just the thought of not worrying about something can evoke feelings of worry itself. What is really happening and how can we find the patience to handle these tough situations without sinking into worry and impatience?

The answer is self-denial. This is a hard thing for most of us to comprehend much less incorporate into our busy lives. We have bills to pay, meals to purchase, housing to maintain and so much more. How can we possibly deny ourselves when so much is depending on what we do?

If we can read words in scripture that identify the causes and symptoms such as those above and know them to be true, then perhaps we should take the scriptural solutions more seriously. Unfortunately we often fall into a false belief during times of trouble that God has “forgotten us” and that we are all alone in our struggle. That simply is not true for, “…if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you…” (Matthew 6:30, ESV).

No, God has not forgotten you. His love for you is not an earthly, temporal love based on conditional elements. We may not understand what is happening and we may never wholly understand these things here in this life, but if you are a child of God, He is never going to forget you or your needs.

We, on the other hand, can forget God and we do it more often than we may even consider. We become so full of our own desires and comfort that we forget the life God has called us to. We put aside our service to others for our own personal gain. We stop being content with what we have and begin to seek after worldly things.

The only way to “fix” this is to follow the examples in scripture. God gave us a roadmap for personal peace, if we will only follow it. The bible has much more to say than these three verses, but these are three basic steps that, if incorporated into our daily life, will serve as protection against those things that would otherwise bring us worry:

1) Seek first The Kingdom of God
Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matthew 6:31-33 ESV)

2) Exercise humility
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:6-7 ESV)

3) Rejoice and pray
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:4-7 ESV)

One Christian’s Response to the Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman Case

jesuslove I, like so many others visit Facebook frequently each day to keep up with family, friends and current events. Lately though I am increasingly troubled by what I’ve been seeing there, especially among my Christian brothers and sisters.

I realize of course that it is, well, Facebook, so I get it that everyone wants to be engaged in popular topics of discussion. What I find disheartening is the message that I continue to see being propagated by my Christian friends about the Zimmerman/Martin case. It is disheartening because, my Christian friends, we should know better. We should know better than to scour the internet trying to dig up dirt on anyone in order to validate our own opinion. Perhaps some people may not even have an opinion, but are inclined to engage in debate of a situation in which they have very little tangible, first-hand information and are only being engaged as pawns by others who would sit back and stoke up the fire while simultaneously stirring the pot.

I don’t have an opinion about Trayvon Martin OR George Zimmerman. Why, because I don’t know either one of them. To assume that I am familiar with their “kind” is pure foolishness. To assume “this” kind or “that” kind of human being is a matter for unwise people.
God has not put us in a place to spread rumors and hatred about one group or “kind” of person and in turn heave praises and words of honor upon another “kind.” There is only one “kind” of person and that God sees.

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. “ Psalm 139:13-16

How can we go about our daily lives engaged in discussions about any “kind” of person being justified or unjustified in taking the life of another of our “kind.” No, brothers and sisters, Trayvon Martin was not made inferior to you and George Zimmerman was not made superior to anyone else. God did not place either of these two lives on this earth for your purposes, but rather for His.

How can any of us look in the mirror, remember our lives before Christ, and then sit at our keyboard and engage in vitriolic fervor to justify and/or condemn? No, we are called to love and to make peace. Not a weak and meaningless pacifism, but a real and honest effort to enter into the lives of both the Martins and the Zimmermans of this world. We are not to engage is the wickedness of this world and become slanderers, bigots and snakes.

“A wise son makes a glad father,
but a foolish son is a sorrow to his mother.
Treasures gained by wickedness do not profit,
but righteousness delivers from death.
The LORD does not let the righteous go hungry,
but he thwarts the craving of the wicked.
A slack hand causes poverty,
but the hand of the diligent makes rich.
He who gathers in summer is a prudent son,
but he who sleeps in harvest is a son who brings shame.
Blessings are on the head of the righteous,
but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.
The memory of the righteous is a blessing,
but the name of the wicked will rot.
The wise of heart will receive commandments,
but a babbling fool will come to ruin.
Whoever walks in integrity walks securely,
but he who makes his ways crooked will be found out.
Whoever winks the eye causes trouble,
and a babbling fool will come to ruin.
The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life,
but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.
Hatred stirs up strife,
but love covers all offenses.
On the lips of him who has understanding, wisdom is found,
but a rod is for the back of him who lacks sense.
The wise lay up knowledge,
but the mouth of a fool brings ruin near.
A rich man’s wealth is his strong city;
the poverty of the poor is their ruin.
The wage of the righteous leads to life,
the gain of the wicked to sin.
Whoever heeds instruction is on the path to life,
but he who rejects reproof leads others astray.
The one who conceals hatred has lying lips,
and whoever utters slander is a fool.
When words are many, transgression is not lacking,
but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.
The tongue of the righteous is choice silver;
the heart of the wicked is of little worth.
The lips of the righteous feed many,
but fools die for lack of sense.
The blessing of the LORD makes rich,
and he adds no sorrow with it.
Doing wrong is like a joke to a fool,
but wisdom is pleasure to a man of understanding.
What the wicked dreads will come upon him,
but the desire of the righteous will be granted.
When the tempest passes, the wicked is no more,
but the righteous is established forever.
Like vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the eyes,
so is the sluggard to those who send him.
The fear of the LORD prolongs life,
but the years of the wicked will be short.
The hope of the righteous brings joy,
but the expectation of the wicked will perish.
The way of the LORD is a stronghold to the blameless,
but destruction to evildoers.
The righteous will never be removed,
but the wicked will not dwell in the land.
The mouth of the righteous brings forth wisdom,
but the perverse tongue will be cut off.
The lips of the righteous know what is acceptable,
but the mouth of the wicked, what is perverse.” – (Proverbs 10 ESV)

It is not an offense to have an opinion about either George Zimmerman or Tayvon Martin, but our opinions should be tempered by the love that God Himself has shared with us. Both of these men have needed the love of our Savior in the past and now there is no chance for any of us to love Trayvon Martin. However, we CAN love his parents and friends. We CAN love George Zimmerman. I say it is way past time to stop hating one “kind” of person and lifting up another “kind.” All of us are the SAME kind without Jesus Christ and none of us have the right to vilify anyone because we know who we were, who we ARE, without the love of Jesus Christ. If any of us had loved both of these men with the love that Christ has shown us there is a great possibility that the evil of this world would not of had the opportunity to use this instance to penetrate our lives with the amount of added hatred that has been spewing about for the past several months.

I do not say these things without seeing the log that is in my own eye, but simply want to encourage myself and others to come back to the feet of Jesus and see others from His point of view. I know it will do me a great amount of good and believe it will benefit the kingdom more than sitting idle without a word of reproach and encouragement from the Holy Spirit.

Could Zurker become your new “Home on the Web?”

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Zurker Inc. for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

The advent of Social Media saw a huge number of entries onto the world stage, but most of those attempts ended in failure. The internet public obviously has certain desires for their consumption of Social Media and up to now FaceBook has been the industry leader in this fierce battle.

That said, eventually even giants can falter.. The last couple of years there have been a multitude of changes with the way people can now interact on some of the leading Social Media sites and the responses have been lackluster. Add to that several high profile attempts at censorship on the part of these media powerhouses which have led many people to drop from the Social Media scene altogether. Others are quietly waiting out there trying to find somewhere new to call their "home on the web."

Zurker might just be that new place! Imagine a site that is owned mostly by those people who use it. Yes, new members to Zurker currently have the opportunity to earn credits that will eventually turn into shares of ownership. To think that just by being a member you actually have some level of say in how the site is developed is a giant leap forward in the Social Media spectrum. On top of that, Zurker promises no censorship of your contribution to discussions which is, for many, the real power behind Social Media in the first place.

I've become a member on Zurker and can say that I like what I see so far. The navigation is a little tricky at first, simply because we have all become accustomed to a single way of doing things. It only takes a little while though to overcome this small challenge and once you do, you will enjoy this new and exciting "world."

If you, like me, arent convinced that what you've been using so far is your ultimate Social Media destination, consider a move over to Zurker and give it a spin.

http://www.zurker.com/i-433943-wbqnuyhbps

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Worldview Wednesday – Environmental Catastrophe Waits for Nobody

© wikkedhillIn the process of obtaining a college education I know that I am not the only Christian who has come up against ideas and teachings that are absolutely contrary to the tenets of our faith. Take one of the classes I am currently enrolled in, Issues in Environmental Science. One of my reasons for choosing this course is my firm belief that we as a people are not living up to God’s desire for proper stewardship of this planet. I wanted to learn more about the real issues facing our environment and how each one of us can play a part in being better stewards.

We are, of course, only part way into this class so I am hopeful that my goal will be fulfilled. That said, thus far the class has been little more than an indoctrination into the world of evolution. This isn’t the first time I’ve “ridden this bus” as anyone who has taken a natural science class, especially at the college level, can attest to.

The ideas and science of evolution do not bother me. These theories and conclusions are based upon the best means available to scientists. What does bother me is the growing animosity between the “people of faith” and the “people of evolution.” Everything, it seems, is polarized through political and social barriers which are only growing in strength and complexity.

Both camps spend a great deal of energy and determination in effort to demonize and ridicule anyone who falls on the other side of the discussion. The current prevailing thought is that the two ideas are so incompatible that the people who hold to them are no longer worth the effort to engage in civil discussion. The end result is a biosphere careening out of control faster than we can lay blame.

I even read a book for this class, The Creation: an Appeal to Save Life on Earth, written by Edward O. Wilson. The book is billed as a persuasive “letter” to a fictitious Southern Baptist Pastor in attempt to highlight the need for people of faith to join in the battle against environmental catastrophe. Without going into great detail about the book itself, I will say that I admire Wilson’s attempt. The problem with the book is its approach. The book is indeed full of great and valuable information about nature and mankind’s effects upon it. Where the book falls short is in its actual attempts at persuasion.

Wilson’s failure to persuade is the same failure I have seen and heard more time than I can count. The problems we face are real and it is powerful to bring to light the real and true scientific data that back up those facts. It is true that too many people are avoiding or downright ignoring their own impact upon our shared planet. Attempts at bringing these things to light are admirable, but knowing that the audience a person is addressing very likely has deep, personal beliefs that are contradictory, it just doesn’t make sense the wave that red flag in their face and tell them they are wrong. There is no persuasive power in that tactic whatsoever.

I believe it IS possible for people of faith and people without faith to work together on real and tangible goals without having to engage in a political battle of wits. We CAN agree to disagree on many of the processes which got us to where we are today. What we have to agree on is that humankind is making a drastic impact on the environment and we must ALL take action to reverse these troubling trends. One does not need to be a biologist to understand their own personal impact.

We need to stop fighting these “holy wars” and get down to the business of finding amicable ways of dealing with the very real dangers of habitat and biodiversity loss. Population control is a firestorm of potential controversy, but teaching about the impact of population growth and learning how to make smarter choices is not out of the realm of possibilities. We as a “species” have come so far in such a short time. We have overcome what have seemed to be insurmountable challenges. We CAN find ways to work together if we put aside our petty differences.

It doesn’t take a physicist to plant a tree and it doesn’t take a theologian to know that deforestation is poor stewardship. God has much to say in His Word about stewardship of our planet. None of those words include ignorance or outright hate against those who do not agree with your opinion.