You probably have a phone like mine. I get news that I didn’t ask for, and it comes to me all day, every day. Some are information, some are manipulation, and some are advertising for things I could buy. I also can learn about the lives of movie stars.
We also have polarized truth. The vegans believe they have found the truth and the truth is meat-free, but the carnivores think they have the truth, and it is vegan-free. We also have political arguments, and polarized news about our health, and what did I miss? We are divided.
I used to try to read it all, but I have learned, there are news sites that I can go to any time. I can just pick a favourite, and it will give me a summary of just about everything I should know.
If a site seems biased and slanted, I can change to a new one with just a click. Since I learned that, I start my day by scrolling to the bottom of the “news” on my phone, and I tap the words “clear all.” It all goes away before I read it.
Don’t judge me too harshly, I just don’t have time to go through all that “news” and read some of it. There are not enough hours in the day.
This is not a good time to be a journalist.
Things were different when I was a boy. We had one newspaper, and it was big on Thursdays and Saturdays. I know, because I was a ‘rag boy.’ My friends and I got our pocket change by delivering papers to homes, after school. Those paper bags were heavy, on some days and every family was a customer.
My whole family read the paper. I still like reading comics, and I’m pretty good with crosswords. We treated that paper with great respect because someone else was waiting to read it, and the arguments could get nasty.
We also had the six o’clock news. We had two or three channels with news, and we usually finished eating before the news came on.
That was how we got our information. It seems so simple now.
With technical progress, we have a new world. We are overloaded with information, and we are being deceived by it, and that deception is dangerous to our spiritual lives. We are closer to disaster than we know.
Let’s agree on the word “deceive.” The word “lie” can be a lie. Someone can put out information that is technically not a lie, but with skilful editing, writing, and speaking, they can lead you to believe something that is not true. You can be deceived by information that might pass a fact-checker.
One of my favourite tricks to catch is what I call the ‘Reverse Weasel Words.’ I just made that name up, but I like it. Imagine seeing a picture for a news item, that catches your attention. So, you get interested and read the title. Now you are even more interested. Then you read the first few lines, to learn about those people and their ideas. Following that are several paragraphs that tell you why these ideas are wrong. Usually, there are many details. Most of us stop reading at that point. We don’t have time and the detailed writing is boring.
Get it? Wink wink, nudge, nudge? A writer or editor knows you won’t read those final words, and you are not supposed to. It is no lie to say that both sides of the argument were presented, but really, most of us only read the interesting side with the picture. No one has the time or interest in the blah-blah-blah other side.
That is one tricky way to deceive without lying.
I see these tricks all the time. Maybe that’s because I once worked as an English teacher, and I specialized in the language, not so much in literature. I have graded many student assignments.
Two thousand years ago, the Bible predicted the future that we are in: “Evil people and imposters will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.” (2 Timothy 3:13) It doesn’t say ‘lying and being lied to.’ The truth can be twisted to deceive us.
We do have Fact Checkers and apparently, they can help us to sort out the truth from the lies. That’s an idea, but now fact-checkers are checking other fact-checkers, and the news is not good:
Do you want to be a better writer or speaker? Learn when to stop. And I’m almost there now.
Also, if you speak, maybe for a podcast, write a script with a beginning, a middle, and an end. The end is critical, and it should come soon.
Now back to our spiritual lives. The whole world is being deceived, on a huge scale, and we could fall into some terrible place. There is no God in that place; we are being pulled away from our creator.
So, be a Fact Checker. It’s in the Bible:
“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (1 John 4)
“So do not be attracted by strange, new ideas. Your strength comes from God’s grace, not from rules about food, which don’t help those who follow them.” (Hebrews 13:9)
“But answer them in a gentle way with respect. Keep your conscience clear. Then people will see the good way you live as followers of Christ, and those who say bad things about you will be ashamed of what they said.” (1 Peter 3:16)
In a time when the truth is so hard to find, we are supposed to find it. It’s a spiritual assignment from God.
This song is not everyone’s music style, but I like it. It’s about a conversation where the truth was spoken by a humble man: