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Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Infotainment and the stuttered gospel

You may have gathered by now that I am an irredeemable SBS or, occasionally, ABC TV news viewer. I have long been suspicious of media owned by private individuals, and, since reading the late Neil Postman’s ground-breaking study Amusing Ourselves to Death  a quarter of a century ago I have been very sceptical of the ability of ratings-hungry and privately owned entertainment media (channels 7, 9 & 10) to address anything remotely discomforting in the infotainment episodes they pass off as news and current affairs bulletins. Call me a snob, but when a company’s income is dependent on ratings, and ratings are dependent on an audience’s good feelings (warm fuzzies), I doubt they’ll address genuinely challenging, discomforting issues.

But, as usual, I digress. These days I get most of my news from Al Jazeera and SBS. Not even ABC (who have slowly compromised in obedience to their owner, the government's need for ratings!). Over and again, night after night — on the nights I get to watch the news — I am confronted by the world’s injustices. In particular at present I watch the news out of Syria, and despair. Who is telling the truth? How can I know? If the Spring Revolution of Egypt is any indication atrocity and evil will only give way to more atrocity and more evil (if you recall my Advent studies on Revelation this is no new theme). I feel helpless, confused, and helpless again.

I often do. There is, as ‘the preacher’ (or Qoheleth) of Ecclesiastes reminds us, nothing new under the sun. Call me a wuss but as I am confronted by the enormities and the injustices and the sheer insurmountable  hurdles of collective human and of individual fallibility I am thrown more and more back into the slender hope of a Saviour. Not, as many Christians believe, a saviour of ‘the saved’, but a Saviour of the World. What that means I do not understand, but in my preaching and in my living I will hope to continue to stutter that possibility. It’s bigger than my small understanding, and so more and more I will fall back on the simple, incoherent Christian hope: come Lord Jesus (maranatha) and that first Christian creed, stuttered against all odds, ‘Jesus is Lord’.
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