Now we’ve become used to instant news and instant access. Sometimes that’s a good thing. And sometimes not so good – especially when there is instant access to fake news stories that stir up emotions and lead to foolish actions.
It seems as if the more we know about the world, two things happen simultaneously. First, we become aware of needs that we can often help with – we are able to help relieve some suffering. Often we are aware of illnesses that can be controlled if we learn about them soon enough. Second, though, people often panic and react to everyone’s detriment.
For some of us who are of a “certain generation,” things just move too fast! For our younger sisters and brothers, who have become used to instant access – we need to find a way to help them ground themselves in discerning truth from rumor; information from demagoguery, the new helpful thing from the new destructive thing. So far, we don’t know how to do that.
Being uninformed is the new “sin” – being up to date is the new goal. But it takes some grounding to figure out what is truly up to date and what is basic fad and foolishness. What happens if we take the time to filter our first reactions through the wisdom of our forebears? We find out how some of their decisions were based in error, and we discover how valid were the decisions they made that were successful because they were grounded in reason.
One way to be grounded is to be aware of what’s happened before our time through historic narrative and, believe it or not, through Scripture. In our Bibles we have a narrative of the results of careful, moral decision-making, and the results of rash judgment. It takes a little time to thoroughly read through the ups and downs of our experiences in Scriptural history, but the reading is very informative. One of the things we notice as we read is that human nature, no matter what technology or speed or information is available, doesn’t change much from century to century. It’s a good thing to be aware of.
Bob Dylan once had a song with words that said you’ve got to serve somebody. Whether it’s the devil or whether it’s the Lord, you choose – because you’ve got to serve somebody. This is not a word for word quote, but you get the idea.
And the leader of Israel after Moses – Joshua – said this: “Choose today who you will serve... as for me and my house we will serve the Lord.” But you can’t choose blindly. It takes knowledge and faith and hope to be able to choose to serve what is good and healthy and true.
In today’s culture, it seems it might be helpful and good to return to study what has been called “God’s instruction” over the centuries. It might be helpful to know what has remained stable throughout our human history, and what has become troublesome.
In this New Year, 2017, I invite you to open your Bible – to read the story of faith – to attend a place of worship and hear some of the information you’ve found interpreted through a heart of faith.
I’m just sayin’. May your New Year be blessed with joy and peace, and may we all live in a world of grace.
Rev. Dr. Marcia Dorey is pastor of the Halifax Union Society.