Tag Archives: Pilate

Rather outspoken on who controls your news

For better than 40 years Dan Rather worked in mainstream journalism. In fact he was a “star” reporter among his fellow journalists from the early 1960s to 2005. Rather worked as the evening news anchor for the elite media outlet—the CBS News network—during a time when the TV news supplanted the newspapers and radio as the most important source of the news that Americans depended upon to keep them up to date with what was going in their nation and world.

For Rather, quality journalism demands grit. Why? Because good reporting and worthwhile news requires the courage to ask of the powerful  the tough questions despite the costs. Most of the public doesn’t realize the high price that some journalists must occasionally pay to report the truth. In Mexico reporting truthful news about the drug cartels and the legion of corrupt governmental officials has meant a bullet in the back of the head for dozens of Mexican journalists while others have had to flee into  exile to avoid the same fate.

This type of violence and threats is not common for American and Canadian journalists. However, Dan Rather’s personal experience illustrates that journalistic freedom is more illusion than fact in the 21st Century as entire nation’s news organizations are owned by just a handful of multi-national corporate media giants. Any North American journalist who fails to understand that it’s not smart—professionally speaking—to ask tough questions that embarrass the political and/or economic elite, will soon be looking for a new job.

After all, some of Rather’s controversial coverage—such as the news story about the sadistic operation at the American-run Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq—resulted in “so much heat,” in lost money and influence, in Washington D.C. that Rather was forced out of the CBS Evening News anchor chair by his corporate masters.

Was reporting a controversial truth worth the risk of cutting short a long and distinguished career? Two years ago Rather reflected about the importance of the Abu Ghraib story in a Newsweek magazine feature story about the top ten news story’s of the 21st Century’s first ten years:

“Abu Ghraib has opened our eyes, serving as a dark icon that reminds us our fiercest enemies – hubris [pride], cruelty, and ignorance – wage war from within.” 

Rather’s observation is practically biblical:

Pride goes before destruction,
and a haughty spirit before a fall. It is better to be of a lowly spirit with the poor 
than to divide the spoil with the proud (Proverbs 16:18-19 English Standard Version).

It bears remembering Dan Rather’s main point: the mainstream news organizations in the 21st Century are not operating in the public service. They are large, usually multi-national corporations, working hand in glove with  political/economic powers  to determine what we see, hear, and read. The corporate masters of these news organizations are in business to make big profits and to earn fat bonuses for themselves. Telling the truth is okay, but only if it doesn’t get in the way of the bottom line.

That’s why the World Tomorrow is different. We are in the public service to tell the truth, which as it turns out has always been a dangerous enterprise:

Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the [religious/political elite in the employ of a group of rapacious, violent overlords]. But my kingdom is not from the world.” 37 Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” Pilate said to him, “What is truth?” (John 18:36-38 English Standard Version).

Some news stories—and that is what the gospel is… truthful good news—are never stale or out of date. Just remember that a great price had to be paid to tell you that story as well.

Will we be the “Dumbest Generation?”

idiocracy the movie

There is a small, but vocal, group of educational professionals who are deeply worried about the intellectual abilities of young people in secondary and post-secondary education these days. Mark Bauerlein, a professor of English at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, said in his recently published book The Dumbest Generation:

 

According to recent reports from government agencies, foundations, survey firms, and scholarly institutions, most young people in the United States neither read literature (or fully know how), work reliably (just ask employers), visit cultural institutions (of any sort), nor vote (most can’t even understand a simple ballot). They cannot explain basic scientific methods, recount foundations of American history [many Canadian high school students don’t know who Winston Churchill was or what he did], or name any of their local political representatives. What do they happen to excel at is – each other. They spend unbelievable amounts of time electronically passing stories, pictures, tunes, and texts back and forth, savoring the thrill of peer attention and dwelling in a world of puerile banter and coarse images. http://www.dumbestgeneration.com/home.html

Many seasoned teachers say that students today have shorter attention spans than similar students that they taught two decades ago. Too many students are finding it difficult to concentrate seriously on anything requiring sustained intellectual effort. More than a few commentators would conclude that the current generation of students is inordinately focused on their social lives to their long-term intellectual detriment. Even in class many students find it incredibly hard to focus on the task at hand, rather they run their mouths, listen to their iPods, play video games or engage in “social nitwitting” on their so-called smartphones.

26“There’s trouble ahead when you live only for the approval of others, saying what flatters them, doing what indulges them. Popularity contests are not truth contests—look how many scoundrel preachers were approved by your ancestors! Your task is to be true, not popular. Luke 6:26 The Message, a paraphrase.

As parents and educators we are going counter to the social/cultural currents of our time when we ask young people to take the time to study and reflect on the great literature of the past or the political-social-religious foundations of our Western culture. Intellectual curiosity about the nature of our society and the world around us, the pursuit of logic and an understanding of cause and effect, learning for the sheer joy of learning, and the search for demonstrable, enduring truth seem to get trounced in the battle with the latest media technology – the gaming console, online or cable entertainment, and web-based social-networking.

In his book Mark Bauerlein asserts:

The technology that was supposed to make young adults more astute, diversify their tastes, and improve their minds had the opposite effect.

Some people would suggest that our children are merely shifting to a new type of technology-based learning suitable for the 21st Century. They would imply that the learning is not “inadequate”; it’s just “different.” They might even ask, why should kids need to study civics, history, current events, Shakespeare’s works, or Newton’s Laws, much less philosophy or the Bible any more!

Today’s students may be able to do well on the multiple-choice, machine-gradable standardized tests that allow them to regurgitate facts and figures. But as parents, educators, and leaders in society we need to ask, “how are they doing when it comes to the pursuit of excellence, social responsibility, and truth, instead of the pursuit of grades?” As teachers we know that some of our students in this brave new world of technology are not learning much more than the skills of “cut and paste” to plagiarize the work of others and call it their own. Truth and personal integrity have fallen under the pressure to “succeed” or the age-old enemy: sloth – laziness.

But the love of the truth is the most important element in education. The human mind to be educated must learn how to think and how to decide what is true from what is false. Ethics and morality are the work of reflective thinking. Just having information online doesn’t guarantee that people will be able to recognize and value the truth or use that information in an appropriate or ethical manner. Our young people need a meaningful education that motivates them to become better people. They need a love for the truth! Without this, everything we take for granted—our comfortable lifestyle, our freedoms, our ability to progress spiritually and materially—will erode or even disappear.

When you read the following passage from Scripture you will see that the debate over having a love for the truth is very old.

33 Then Pilate went back into his headquarters and called for Jesus to be brought to him. “Are you the king of the Jews?” he asked him.

34 Jesus replied, “Is this your own question, or did others tell you about me?”

35 “Am I a Jew?” Pilate retorted. “Your own people and their leading priests brought you to me for trial. Why? What have you done?”

36 Jesus answered, “My Kingdom is not an earthly kingdom. If it were, my followers would fight to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish leaders. But my Kingdom is not of this world.”

37 Pilate said, “So you are a king?”

Jesus responded, “You say I am a king. Actually, I was born and came into the world to testify to the truth. All who love the truth recognize that what I say is true.”

38 “What is truth?” Pilate asked.

John 18 New Living Translation

Can you recognize and love the truth when you see it? Metaphorically, would you be willing to sell everything you own to possess it like a Pearl of Great Price. Or, are you like Pilate, uncertain or ambivalent when it comes to searching for what is true. It’s a choice we make for ourselves and our children and it will determine whether we will become the “dumbest generation.”

I’ll be live streaming this topic on March 5, 2011 at 11:30 a.m. PST. If you can’t make it then, don’t worry. The broadcast will be archived for later viewing. Check it out at http://cogwebcast.com/

Christmas with the Irish Rovers: singing about the irony, the lies, the truth

Last night my wife and I went out on a date to hear a Celtic music band, the Irish Rovers, play in Nanaimo’s Port Theatre. I guess the Irish Rovers, who’ve been playing music together for over 40 years, regularly do a Christmas concert tour. And since one of the band members lives here, they make it a point to play here on Vancouver Island.

I’m not a big fan of the Christmas music genre, but I found the Rover’s selection of covers and original material toe tapping.  I loved the irony in “Grandma got run over by a reindeer”  http://www.turnbacktogod.com/grandma-got-run-over-by-a-reindeer-irish-rovers/ whose lyrics go like this:

Grandma got run over by a reindeer
walkin’ home from our house Christmas eve.
You can say there’s no such thing as Santa.
But as for me and Grandpa, we believe.

She’d been drinkin’ too much egg nog.
And we’d begged her not to go.
But she’d forgot her medication,
and she staggered out the door into the snow.

When we found her Christmas mornin,’
at the scene of the attack.
She had hoof prints on her forehead,
And incriminatin’ Claus marks on her back.

Grandma got run over by a reindeer,
walkin’ home from our house Christmas eve.
You can say there’s no such thing as Santa,
but as for me and Grandpa, we believe.

Now were all so proud of Grandpa.
He’s been takin’ this so well.
See him in there watchin’ football,
drinkin’ beer and playin’ cards with cousin Belle.

It’s not Christmas without Grandma.
All the family dressed in black.
And we just can’t help but wonder:
Should we open up her gifts or send them back?
(Send them back)

Grandma got run over by a reindeer,
walkin’ home from our house Christmas eve.
You can say there’s no such thing as Santa,
But as for me and Grandpa, we believe.

Santa Claus is, of course, nonsense: a cherished prevarication with which our culture loves to deceive its children. Why do we so enjoy telling lies to our children instead of teaching them the truth? Christmas ostensibly is set up to worship Jesus Christ. Should we teach lies as part of our Christianity? How important is truth to the Messiah?

6Jesus said… I am the Way and the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father except by (through) Me. (John 14:6 AMP).

Jesus is our door to the Father of life and eternity. It is the Father who is seeking at this time, through the offices of Jesus as mediator, those human beings who care deeply about believing and doing what is true.

23 The time is coming when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, and that time is here already. You see, the Father too is actively seeking such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:23-24 New Century Version).

The whole Santa Claus thing as well as the December 25 date that is fixed as Jesus’ birthday are fictions. The Bible’s internal evidence plainly witnesses that Jesus was born in the fall not in the winter. Yet this doesn’t seem to matter to most people who, ironically, live by the mindset of the man who crucified Jesus rather than worship Him.

37 “You are a king, then!” said Pilate. Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”38 “What is truth?” retorted Pilate. (John 18:37-38 NIV).

Are you on the side of the truth?