Advent 14 and 15: Acts 15:22-31 Luke 1 Jeremiah 32:17

No post yesterday. Church, stuff at home and a trip to a major sports award ceremony prevented it.

So, two in one…

I was struck by both Acts and Luke here regarding the importance of news being reported correctly and research being done thoroughly.

I think we very often get short changed with the standard of news we get. Much of it is excellent, well researched, well written and in the public interest. However, on many occasions we get half truths and cherry picked, well spun facts in order to elicit a particular reaction or promote a political ideology.

This is something the Bible itself is accused of regularly. It’s pretty much impossible to prove one way or the other, but its clear that we are asked by God to look into things to do with faith, the way we live, the news we hear and every other important matter to make sure what we hear, say and believe is truthful and right.

With so much bias and so many agendas everywhere this is difficult, but we need to try.

Lent Day 29: Luke 23-24

This is the story of weak-minded leaders, influenced by a powerful group who have incredible influence on the masses.

This is the story of a small band of people with a responsibility to be honest and full of integrity, but who deliberately twist the facts to suit their own power-hungry agenda in order to change popular opinion in their favour.

This is the story of a population misinformed, misled, misdirected and missing all of the facts needed to make the choices they need to.

This is the story which happened 2000 years ago and still happens today.

Today’s version of the high priests are our media proprietors and pressure groups, especially certain “think-tanks”. We get a deliberately skewed version of the facts around a whole range of issues; the economy, Europe, immigration, welfare, unemployment, education and health, just to name a few. We have groups such as Migration Watch and The Taxpayers’ Alliance who claim to be offering balanced, truthful views and studies in order to inform us of important issues, but do nothing more than twist the facts to fit their own agendas, creating worst case scenarios, scare stories and outrage to make headlines.

And our news outlets love the headlines they make. The broadcast media are bad enough, spitting out headlines and soundbites more often than full stories nowadays. Our print media, led by self-interested folk such as Rupert Murdoch, Richard Desmond and Paul Dacre, are the absolute worst for it. Many in our news media do an amazing, important job. However, the headlines are dominated by spin centred around greed and hatred of certain groups. They give us a one-sided, biased and, often, untrue account of the issues which affect us.

And we swallow it. We love a scapegoat and the media give us them in spades; immigrants, teachers, unemployed, single mothers, disabled, “lefties”, homosexuals, health and safety officers, Europeans, Muslims… the list is endless. We look down on our chosen group, no, their chosen groups, with disdain and revulsion. We know they are to blame. They’re why our country is in a mess. They’re why standards are skipping. It’s all “their fault”.

And because we swallow it our politicians, rather than educating, investigating and shaping the agenda, look at the opinions shaped by the media and try to placate. They hob nob with editors and proprietors. They make the news item of the day their top priority. They punish the mob-hated scapegoats in order to keep whatever power they think they have.

And those at the top, those who really have caused the problems, those who really are to blame get away with it. They may get a slapped wrist today, but they’ll get money, awards, power tomorrow.

The world is upside down.

It’s always been like that. In a world where weak leaders like Pilate and Herod can be scared by the masses, whipped into an angry frenzy by self-centred high priests, into killing the son of God himself, should we be surprised at what happens nowadays?

I guess not.

But, here’s the thing. Jesus rose again. He came back to spread the message of love, generosity, care for the vulnerable, acceptance of the stranger, power to the meek, redemption of the sinner and humility for those at the top. He came back to defeat death and sin and the powers which crucified him. He’s still doing it, through those who truly accept him.

He is the way, the truth and the life. Through him we can all get to the father. Through him there are no scapegoats, only children of God. Through him we get the full story from the one, true authority.

And all earthly powers melt away.