BEWARE OF MEDIA BIAS

outofblanceTwenty-five years ago, I got my first real education into the way that media bias can drastically transform a story. Being an eye witness to what took place and then seeing how those same events were portrayed in our evening news helped me to recognize that a story can be distorted just as easily through creative editing as it can by an outright lie. Tragically, objective and impartial news has become something that is almost extinct. Too often, news reporters today (right or left) are more interested in proving their narrative of the world than they are in objectively and unbiased reporting the news and we, who are the consumers of the news they report, need to compensate for this shortcoming. Impartiality is always difficult, but it is something we must strive for if we care about the truth at all. And when those who report the news no longer willing to strive for impartiality, then we need to work even harder to overcome their failings or we will end up being taken in by their lies.

 

How my education began

Our local school board had introduced material into the Jr. and HS curriculum that contained significant portions of text that were nothing short of pornographic. This curriculum was introduced under the guise of “multiculturalism” and our community was outraged when content of that material was revealed. At the school board meeting following that revelation, the room was overflowing with angry parents. During the portion of the meeting reserved for public comment, the normal rule of alternating speakers on each side of the issue had to be changed because those desiring to speak in opposition to the schools board’s decision so vastly outnumbered those who were supporting it. After a tally of all speakers was made, it was decided that for each person speaking in support of the school boards decision, five people would be permitted to speak against it. About half way through the public address, the principle from one of the schools spoke in support, her speech began as follows “You, board, should be ashamed of yourselves because you have already allowed parents to have far more input into the curriculum of our schools than is proper! These are not professional educators and they should not be influencing……” This is about as far as she got before the room full of angry parents erupted. It took several minutes for order to be restored, and one man, who would not calm down, was escorted from the meeting by the police.

 

What was presented on all of our local news channels that night

The news that evening showed excerpts from five speakers during the public address section. They chose excerpts from four speakers who had supported the school boards decision, and they chose the most well articulated portions of their speeches, even though these four speakers represented only a tiny fraction of the total number of speakers, and they choose one of the least educated and least articulate speakers to represent the views of the vast majority who had attended. Then they showed video of the irritate man being led away by the police, but did not air the portion of the school principle’s speech that led to the rooms eruption or make mention of the reaction of the rest of the room to her comments. Those who watched the news that night were left with the impression that almost everyone in attendance, with the exception of a few uneducated angry parents, supported the schools decision.

 

What I learned that night

  1. It is important to consider both what has been reported and what may have been left out.
  2. It is important to look for other sources to collaborate what is being said. For example, a review of the published school board minutes would have revealed a perspective that was contrary to the reports on the news that night.
  3. It is important to consider the biases of those who are reporting the news, and what story we believe that they would like to tell.

When we watch the news, we need to recognize that far too often the story we hear is the one the reporter wants to tell, even when it is very different from the actual events that took place. We need to do our do diligence and look for reliable source to collaborate the story we have been told. And we need to be even more careful to verify sources that appear to support our own perspectives, knowing that it far easier to blindly accept information that seems to support our perceptions.

Stand United

UnitedI think that Jason Foster has a lot of good things to say and his articles are often thought provoking, but in his article, Why ‘God And Country’ Christianity Is Just Another Phony Prosperity Gospel, he really took a wrong turn. The “false gospel” he confronts in this article (while it is truly a false gospel), is not something that is taught in our churches. This false gospel is the invention of Emergent church leaders like Bell, McClaren, Evens, etc… who needed something to rebel against and, sadly, too often we have uncritically given legitimacy to their false narrative and then beaten ourselves up over it.

That isn’t to say that there isn’t some merit to the issues he raises; there is, and Jason has almost hit the nail on the head as he tries to identify them. But, as he rightly pointed out in another article, “in a spiritual context, being almost right is often the same as being all the way wrong.While I share many of the concerns Jason raises in this article, issues that should deeply concern all of us, and I too have been appalled by some of the rhetoric voiced by a number of our prominent evangelical leaders during this political season, I believe that mis-characterizing their beliefs and exaggerating their errors does not help to bring correction, but only deepens our division.

I, like I believe Jason also does, truly hope that we, as the body of Christ, will take a hard and critical look at the mistakes we have made and be unafraid to loudly voice those concerns to our brothers and sisters in Christ, but let’s stop using the false narrative of those who truly hate the church to beat one another up.

Renewed in his love!

Renewed in his Love

See if you can spot the difference in these two Hebrew phrases above.

Sunday morning we were reading Zephaniah 3:17, “The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. (ESV)”. The text of Zeph. 3:14-20 (especially in Hebrew) is the language of a loud and jubilant celebration. In this context, the phrase “he will quiet [you] by his love” in the middle of 3:17 seems startlingly out of place. When I looked at the Greek text to see if there might be any insights about why read as it did, I found that it read very differently i.e. it reads “He will renew you in his love[i].” In Hebrew the difference between these variants is a only single letter, and the two different letters that account for these variant readings are so similar that they are frequently misread. Adding more weight to the possibility that the Hebrew text may have long ago been mis-transcribed, the Syriac text also follows the Greek text[ii], providing a second ancient witness for this variant reading i.e. “He will renew you in his love[ii].”

שיר המעלות לדויד-ב

This text above comes from Ps. 133 in the Dead Sea Scrolls. The text below is a transcription into modern Hebrew letters. Look at how similar the ר and ד are in this ancient text.

While most English translations follow the Hebrew text, several have felt that this variant is significant enough to mention in the foot notes, and the NET has opted to follow the Greek/Syriac texts, noting that “the MT (Hebrew text) reads, ‘he is silent in his love,’ but this makes no sense in light of the immediately preceding and following lines[iii].” The NET footnote mirrors my on thoughts as I read this passage i.e. “this makes no sense!” Given the textual evidence, and the context of this passage, I think it is very likely that the Greek text (a text used by the Apostles) has captured an original text that has since been lost in Hebrew.

God is celebrating because his people have been renewed in his love!

What an awe inspiring thought!


 

[i] LXX “καὶ καινιεῖ σε ἐν τῇ ἀγαπήσει αὐτου”

[ii] Syriac “ונחדתכי בחובה”

[iii] The MT reads, “he is silent in his love,” but this makes no sense in light of the immediately preceding and following lines. Some take the Hiphil verb form as causative (see Job 11:3) rather than intransitive and translate, “he causes [you] to be silent by his love,” that is, “he soothes [you] by his love.” The present translation follows the LXX and assumes an original reading ) יְחַדֵּשׁ ykhaddesh, “he renews”) with ellipsis of the object (“you”). (NET NOTES on Zeph. 3:17)