WorldMag.com WORLD Magazine / Prodigal Press / Chapter Two
Spiking the Spiritual


Prodigal Press cover

American journalists and their critics have been engaged in a lively liberal vs. conservative debate over the past two decades. Many books and articles have been written about the tilt to the left at mainline media institutions. But a far more crucial type of bias has been ignored almost entirely.

As noted in Chapter One, much of American journalism until the mid-nineteenth century emphasized God's sovereignty and man's responsibility. Kings who disobeyed God were exposed as sinful. Duelists were without honor because they thought esteem among men more important than following God's commands. Lightning storms taught spiritual lessons. Lack of repentance had murderous consequences. One minister said that he enjoyed opening up the newspaper to see what God had done that day.

Non-Christian journalists who came to dominate newspapers following the departure of Christians tended to put out a very different kind of product. There is little evidence of editors explicitly banning God from the front page. Instead, they redefined "reality" to exclude the spiritual realm. For earlier editors, material and spiritual aspects of the world were both important. They knew that comprehensive news stories and news analysis requires reporting of the workings of Providence, as best we can understand them. But many editors of the past century have tried to publish God's obituary.

The Bible provides excellent examples of complete news coverage, coverage that takes into account both material and spiritual. News reports circulated immediately after the parting of the Red Sea (Exodus 15) or the defeat of the Canaanites (Judges 8) noted the interaction of spiritual and material forces. The Book of Job's report of a sensational disaster story-family wiped out, house smashed by tornado, herds stolen, and so on-is introduced by a dialogue in Heaven between God and Satan that is essential to an understanding of the drama below. One realm is no more "real" than the other. Both Heaven and earth are fact.

Earthly reporters, of course, cannot know exactly what is going on in Heaven; inspired Biblical reporting is greater than anything we can produce. But Christians do know that there is a spiritual realm as well as an earthly one, and that activities in the spiritual realm do influence the origin and outcome of news stories on earth. Christians know four spiritual facts that are essential to understanding earthly news events:

-God is sovereign, so events do not happen by chance. Obedience to God brings blessings; disobedience brings curses. The blessings and curses may not always be apparent immediately.

-Satan is active in the world, intent on doing evil. Since events on earth are subsets of a larger battle between God and Satan, we may not know why certain events occur.

-Because of the ravages of sin, man without God's grace is prone to do evil. Yet, the redemption brought about by Christ's sacrifice is real. It gives Christians not only eternal salvation, but the power to fight Satan's attempts to rule this world.

-God answers prayers. He does so not by making us feel better psychologically, but by actually transforming earthly situa-tions, not always in the way we expect.

Few reporters now accept this spiritual reality as a necessary backdrop to stories, because fact has been defined to include only material. The result has been incomplete reporting. If, for example, we apply only the last of the spiritual facts listed above-God answers prayer-there emerges a different way of covering one of the major stories of 1986, the overthrow of Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines.

The New York Times, ignoring its Christian origins once again, covered the material facts. But an article in the Evangelical Beacon by Robert Carey told a much deeper story: "Christians of all persuasions had been uniting in fervent prayer before, during and after the election.... Many churches held all-night prayer meetings. Others met for special times of prayer in homes or churches.... There is, I believe, no way to explain the events we have witnessed apart from answered prayer."

There was, of course, another means of explanation, that used by the Times: Count the tanks and guns, and estimate popular support for each side. But Carey in his report asked a series of hard questions:

"What accounted for the fact that the military forces did not overrun the crowds? They had sufficient tear gas and water cannons to disperse the people.

"What kept hundreds of thousands of people from becoming a wild, uncontrolled mob? What held their emotions in check?

"What enabled President Marcos to exercise restraint and keep cool when his top military man called for action to attack and neutralize the rebel forces?

"What enabled the crowds to show kindness and offer food and drink to their 'enemies' in the government forces?"

Carey concluded, "As I lay in bed listening to the radio through my headset during the wee hours of the morning, I heard an evangelical leader asking people to get up and wake their families and pray during a particularly crucial period. On two such occasions I woke [my wife] and we prayed together for God to control the situation. The same thing was taking place in thousands of households across Manila and throughout the Philippines.... And God answered prayer."

Carey's reporting was moving. That God did answer the prayers of Christians in the Philippines is clear. How exactly he answered them is not yet clear, and may not be for many years, if ever on this earth. We do not know what will happen in the Philippines-civil war may still occur. But the Bible does tell us that events happen not just because of individual or national sin or faith, but for God's glory. From observation, we know that those who spiked the spiritual by refusing to recognize the mystery of the Philippines crisis-the fact that something outside of what we perceive as the usual chain of events happened there-were missing a major story.

Carey's story, then, was different from that of the New York Times: Different not only in interpretation of events but different in selection of details. A former Times editor, Lester Markel, described his newspaper's reporting and editing process by explaining that"The reporter, the most objective reporter, collects fifty facts. 0ut of the fifty facts he selects twelve to include in his story (there is such a thing as space limitation). Thus he discards thirty-eight. This is Judgment Number One.

"Then the reporter or editor decides which of the facts shall be the first paragraph of the story, thus emphasizing one fact above the other eleven. This is Judgment Number Two. Then the editor decides whether the story shall be placed on Page One or Page Twelve; on Page One it will command many times the attention it would on Page Twelve. This is Judgment Number Three. This so-called factual presentation is thus subjected to three judgments, all of them most humanly and most ungodly made."

Markel's description of the "ungodly" process is generalizable: Reporters and editors, like all of us, are always making choices. New York Times reporters in the Philippines, if they were pounding the pavements or even listening to local radio, had to be aware of what Filipinos were calling "prayer power," but they evidently saw that set of activities as relatively insignificant. Robert Carey was clearly aware of the military and public opinion configurations, but he considered those facts to be of secondary importance.

Many major American journalists would prefer, for three reasons, the materialistic accounts of the Times to the spiritual/material accounts of Carey.

First, many would say that the Times is objective. But the Bible points out, and philosophers from many backgrounds have tended to agree, that all descriptions of human activities are based on certain convictions as to the nature of the universe. Readers of every news story are receiving information but are also being taught, subtly or explicitly, a particular worldview, whether it is theistic, pantheistic, materialistic, or whatever.

In philosophical terms, newspapers offer not only phenomena, but noumena; not only facts learned from study, but an infrastructure that gives meaning to the facts. When the Detroit Free Press offered its readers a typical newspaper report on urban crime, introductory facts and anecdotes were immediately followed bw list of "things that spur killings . . . stress, joblessness, poverty, guns, and subcultures of violence." Sin was not mentioned.

The key line of defense for most journalists would be the second: That the New York Times, in describing material, was describing fact. Anyone with sight, regardless of his theology, could see the tanks and guns, and those who could not see could touch. Therefore the tanks and guns were really there, while the spiritual world cannot be seen or touched by many people, so it might not be there.

And yet, without diving too deeply into the philosophical black hole of epistemology (how we know things), we could say that the tanks and guns were not dependent for their existence on the ability of reporters to see or touch them. If all reporters were blind and deprived of their other senses as well-in which case, obviously, they would be inadequate reporters-the tanks and guns would still have been there.

The Bible makes a similar point about spiritual things. Paul writes in Romans (1:20), "Since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities-his eternal power and divine nature-have been clearly seen, being understood from what had been made." That some do not see has no more to do with the factuality of the matter than the absence of sight or touch in some has to do with the factuality of tanks.

Psalm 19 discussed this crucial point more poetically: "The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world." Many reporters do not acknowledge God's glory. They develop convoluted interpretations to avoid admitting that creation is His. But, as Romans 1:20 notes, they are without excuse.

Just because reporters do not see spiritual things, or admit to seeing spiritual things, does not mean that spirit is not fact. John Newton, a slave trader who became a Christian, wrote of differential sight two centuries ago: "Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now am found, was blind, but now I see."

Reporters might say that everyone with normal senses can experience tanks, but not everyone with normal senses can experience spirit-yet what makes us think our senses are normal? The Bible says they are abnormal apart from God's grace, since man's fall from the garden of Eden onwards has cut us off from natural perception of the spiritual. The Bible also tells us that man's decision to suppress the truth by ignoring the spiritual is a conscious, deliberate result of sin and guilt.

The third, fall-back defense of journalists who defend the reporting of material fact and the spiking of the spiritual is journalistic tradition, backed up by their own personal sense that the tradition is right. Reporters are right to assert that tradition is now on the anti-spiritual side. Let's look at a few examples of the ways in which materialist reporters have missed stories of man's sin and redemption, God's sovereignty, and Satan's activities.

IGNORING FACTS OF SIN AND REDEMPTION
Whittaker Chambers and Alger Hiss were the two major figures in a big story of the late 1940s. Chambers was a former Communist Party member and spy who had become a Christian. He gave investigators solid evidence (unlike most of that produced by Joseph McCarthy during the 1950s) of Soviet espionage in the State Department. Alger Hiss was a former State Department official with favorable recommendations in his file from Presidents, Supreme Court Justices, and dozens of other leaders. Chambers charged that Hiss had been a spy, and produced microfilm and other evidence to back up his accusations.

Washington Post reporters, for two reasons, refused to believe Chambers' charges, even when the evidence became overwhelming. One reason apparently was economic: Chambers was casting doubts on not only the integrity of Hiss but the management of the federal bureaucracy generally. The growth of that bureaucracy, Washington's major industry, was crucial to the Post's economic future; the Post regularly sprang to the defense of that industry just as newspapers in other cities tended to protect their own.

The second reason, judging from Post articles, was theological. Reporters evidently did not understand that the ravages of sin had turned Hiss into a traitor. Nor did they see that the grace of redemption propelled Chambers to leave a comfortable job to become a witness against communism.

Chambers tried to teach the reporters. He told them of the true evil of communism (not just mistake, or misfortune, or trying too hard to make progressive changes, but satanic evil). He described the true grace of God (not just existing in some abstract form, but actively changing men's hearts and creating the opportunity for new lives). His first statement to the press, shortly before appearing at a Congressional hearing, was that he had left the Communist Party because "it was an evil." He continued to use such blunt words throughout his public agony.

Chambers consistently stressed religious presuppositions. He criticized "the great alternative faith of mankind," the Communist vision of "Man without God . . . man's mind displacing God as the creative intelligence of the world." Chambers argued that many non-Communists also had the modern "vision of man, once more the central figure of the Creation, not because God made man in His image, but because man's mind makes him the most intelligent of the animals." Chambers testified that he had been consumed by that sinful vision also, until God had changed his heart through free grace. Sin and grace-Chambers' story was impossible to understand unless those concepts were taken seriously.

Articles from both liberal and conservative newspapers, though, indicated that many journalists did not consider sin and grace to be facts of human life. It made no sense that officials with impressive resumes should become traitors-but it made perfect sense, given an awareness of original sin. (Biblically, scribes and Pharisees often are traitors.) It made no sense that a liar such as Chambers should now be trusted-but it made perfect sense if there is a God who so transforms hearts that those who once loved lying now find false witness abhorrent.

MlNIMIZING THE SPIRITUAL DIMENSIONS
Newspaper coverage of two major stories of 1962-the public school prayer debate in June and the beginning of the modern abortion controversy in July-showed how unimportant spiritual dimensions had become to many journalists.

The U.S. Supreme Court's contention in June 1962 that prayer in public schools is unconstitutional was heatedly denounced by many Christians. Major newspapers downplayed the controversy, though. The New York Times complained about "far-fetched attacks" by opponents of the decision. The New York Herald-Tribune suggested that "we accept the ruling with respect, and calm." Other newspapers that waxed fervent even about small political issues editorialized that the prayer question was unimportant, or almost entirely ignored it.

Another need for some spiritual discernment arose the following month (July 1962) when "Miss Sherri," star of the Phoenix version of "Romper Room" (a nationally syndicated kiddie program), decided to have an abortion. Sherri Finkbine was the "pretty mother of four healthy children" and the wife of a high school history teacher who also gave swimming lessons in the family pool behind the house. She was an attractive woman with high professional status who decided to have an abortion because the child she had been bearing for two months faced the possibility of birth with substantial birth defects."

Concerned journalists could have covered the story in this way: "She has a pleasant home, adequate finances, and a supportive husband, but plans to kill her baby." Or this way: "Woman insists on abortion even though there is only a 20 percent chance of deformity in the child she carries." Newspapers could have run features on babies with birth defects who were nevertheless thriving. But with isolated exceptions-one Catholic newspaper editorialized, "Brush away the sentimental slush of a thousand sob-sisters and the cold fact remains that this woman wants to kill the child now living within her"-reporters rallied behind the visible and even changed typical vocabulary in order to ignore the hidden.

Some examples: The Los Angeles Times defended Miss Sherri, a "tanned brunet wearing a sleeveless dress of white linen," and instead of using the word "abortion," headlined her desire for "Baby Surgery." A columnist wrote of Finkbine's desire to avoid the possibility of "mothering" a drug-deformed child. The New York Journal-American described an operation to "lose the baby," and the New York Times reported, "Couple May Go Abroad for Surgery to Prevent a Malformed Baby." Eventually, reporters dropped use of the word "baby" entirely, and substituted the medical term "fetus."

There is no evidence that reporters were trying to be daring, or that they were thoughtfully attempting to transform editorial interpretation by changing abortion terminology that had been dominant for almost a century. Reporters were only doing what came naturally, telling a story about likable folks in trouble. But in doing so they ignored key questions.

MISUNDERSTANDING BASIC QUESTIONS
By the 1970s, many reporters seemed unable to understand even basic Christian concepts. Ignorance of fundamental definitions of sin was evident on Easter Sunday, 1973, when embattled President Richard Nixon went to church in Key Biscayne, Florida. Minister John Huffman noted in his sermon, "I don't like to talk about sin. But let's face it. It's a fact of society and a fact of your and my life. We can sweep it under the rug and dismiss it . . . or you can walk out of here transformed individuals by the power of Jesus Christ."

One member of the White House press corps, doing his job, asked Huffman after the service, "Was this aimed at the President?" Huffman said, "No." A reporter asked, "Was it a Watergate sa~ mon?" Huffman said, "No, it was not a Watergate sermon."tr reporter then asked, "Well, then, apparently you are saying that nothing in your sermon had any relation to the President?" Huffman replied, "Absolutely not. I wouldn't say that at all, because if I single out anyone in the congregation and say a sermon had nothing to do with them, that person might as well not come to church."

The press corps persisted. Another reporter asked, "Well, then, you're saying that you were preaching to the President." Huffman replied, "No, I did not say I was preaching to the President as far as singling anyone out." A reporter demanded, "Well, what are you saying?" Huffman responded, "I'm saying simply this: that I preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. I try to preach it as clearly as possible, as faithfully to the Scripture as possible, and I start with myself, and I am a sinner. I need to repent and every one of us in the room is under the same conditions and whatever the President wants to make of what was said this morning is between him and the Lord."

Many reporters evidently refused to accept this basic concept of original sin, and persisted in thinking of the sermon in terms of a particular sin. News stories the next morning were predictable: Huffman had warned Nixon he should quit pretending to be a Christian, Nixon should repent of his Watergate sins, Nixon had been chastised, and so on.

In one sense, such stories were predictable. It was open season on Nixon, and he had brought that particular volley on himself. But the story behind those stories is threefold: Sometimes a lack of understanding of basic Christian concepts; sometimes a refusal to believe that intelligent people actually take those beliefs seriously; and, probably most often, deliberate suppression of truth about God and self. As sociologist Robert Bellah generalized about the attitude of journalists toward Christianity, most "think it's somehow slightly embarrassing, a holdover from the Dark Ages . . . something only ignorant and backward people really believe in."

Many Washington correspondents, living in a politicized world, see error or plot in politics and economics, but will not accept its origin in the original sin within individuals. They consciously avoid admission of sin's power, for such admission would condemn themselves. Journalists, like all of us, have trouble answering Jesus' question: "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?" (Luke 6:41).

REFUSAL TO ACKNOWLEDGE WARNINGS
Pharisees in New Testament times liked to believe that everyone on this earth received what they deserved-which meant that those who were healthy and materially prosperous could assume that their spiritual health also was good. But Jesus said, concerning Galileans who had been brutally treated by Pilate, "Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them-do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish" (Luke 13:2-7).

The current AIDS plague has provided an opportunity for widespread repentance. Paul told the Romans that when men do not give thanks to God, their thinking becomes futile, and then God lets them turn thought into action: Men abandon "natural relations with women," are "inflamed with lust for one another," and "commit indecent acts with other men." Finally, they receive "in themselves the due penalty for their perversion" (Romans 1:18- 4 32). Recent news accounts have speculated about a variety of potential causes of AIDS, but materialist reporters could not take seriously the belief that AIDS is a God-sent warning to homosexuals and to adulterous heterosexuals and to anyone who scorns Him.

In spiking the spiritual concerning AIDS, many mainline journalists did not merely choose one worldview over another. By ridiculing even the idea that the terror of AIDS was providing an opportunity for repentance, they were suggesting to all of us that the "liberated" lifestyle popularized in the 1960s could continue, with "safe sex" modifications. Homosexuals could continue their practices as long as they chose partners carefully and used condoms; heterosexuals could continue in adultery, as long as onenight stands tended to be on the second night rather than the first. Other subsets of the one real sin-disobedience to God-could continue.

Journalists who refused even to consider a spiritual/material interface further weakened their stories by not acknowledging what is right in front of their eyes. For example, a Newsweek article gave accounts of AIDS patients, all of whom (with one exception) were heterosexuals; this was an obvious attempt to give a false impression of reality. A more subtle newspaper article, "Gays Rally for Right and Respect," reported a homosexual march as if it were an Easter parade, with the emphasis on "diversity" and "family."

Missing were accounts of groups such as Dykes on Bikes, the pederastic North American Man-Boy Love Association, or the Society of Venus (a group that promotes sadomasochism as safe sex). Those details might have made readers wonder if whips and chains make for "safe sex," so specific detail (which makes for strong reporting) was covered up.

The Bible uses specific detail to show the nature of sin. Amnon's rape of Tamar, Canaan looking on his father's nudity, Lot's sexual relations with his daughters-all make for vivid reading. The Bible is not shy about showing the ugly deeds of man; the Bible is not sanitized. But for ideological reasons, much of the news we read today is. By sanitizing homosexual marches, materialist journalists turn aside readers from the necessity of choosing between right and wrong (and avoid condemning themselves). Cover-up is no favor to readers, and no service to the cause of printing the truth, or even a vivid story.

RIDICULING THOSE WITH SPIRITUAL VISION
Lack of understanding, along with outright anti-Christian prejudice, leads to journalistic amazement or horror at the supposed self-deception of those who do see a spiritual realm. Materialist reporters have been blind persons thinking that those with sight are obstinate for not employing the blind as guides. For example, the New York Times typically attacks theological conservatives as "inflexible" persons who want to "set a tone of anti-intellectualism" and "start exorcising the demon they call liberalism."

The scorn particularly comes out, now as in the 1920s, when the topic of evolution vs. creation is debated. In 1986, Tennessee Christian parents asked their school district either to create alternative classes with alternative books for the children, or to pay for their private school tuition. They said there should be some choice in public education, not just the foisting on their children of anti-Christian books. They said that if public schools cannot provide choice, parents should not be penalized financially for finding alternatives.

The case, referred to as "Scopes II," brought up important questions. Are the public schools infringing on the right to free excrcise of religion? Can we move toward a pluralistic public school system? But many newspapers missed the real issues once again, as they did during Scopes I. Instead, the lead on one story in the still American-Statesman was, "In the peaceful hills of Tennessee Bible Belt, Dorothy and Toto and the Good Witch are on trial this week." The reporter did not understand or did not want to deal with the real, serious issue of the case, so he chose the weasel strategy of six decades ago: Poke fun at Bible thumpers.

BEYOND THE LIBERAL-CONSERVATIVE DEBATE
Again and again over the past half-century, the same story emerges: Spike the spiritual. Seeing the consistent downgrading of the Biblical worldview of spiritual/material interface helps us to go beyond media debates of the past two decades. The liberal vs. conservative debate is an important one, but some conservative reporters are as materialistic in philosophy as their liberal counterparts. Non-Christians of both sides tend to give only half the facts.

Often this is not conscious. As John Corry of the New York Times acknowledged, "There are fewer rules of pure journalism here than journalists pretend, even to themselves. Journalists, especially big-time journalists, deal in attitudes and ideas as much as events." Those attitudes and ideas lead to formation of journalistic plausibility structures, their senses of what makes sense and what does not. Busy reporters often do not have time to think things through. As one Washington hand noted, "If I got to think about a story at all, it was in the few steps running from a Senate hearing room to the phone booth." Journalists, under such pressure, tend to make snap choices of emphasis based on their basic ideas of what is important and what is not.

Some would say that personal beliefs are unimportant because "professionalism" takes over, but a few journalists with good senses of self are also aware of the effect of "selective perception." William Rivers, a reporter turned professor, has written frequently about the effect of attitudes on the ability of even well-trained reporters to spot a story. In describing one story he wrote, Rivers noted that "My prejudices did the work and I was unaware of it until, much later, I read about the phenomenon known as 'selective perception.' " As Time's former chairman of the board, Andrew Heiskell, observed, "All writers slant what they write no matter how hard they try."

The slant is obvious at times. Washington Post foreign editor Karen de Young, in explaining her positive coverage of the Sandinistas during their seizure of power, noted that "Most journalists now, most Western journalists at least, are very eager to seek out guerrilla groups, leftist groups, because you assume they must be the good guys." Former ABC newsman Geraldo Rivera, reporting from Panama during the 1970s, had a problem: The U.S. Senate was about to vote on U.S. relinquishing of the Panama Canal, and violence engaged in by the Panamanian National Guard showed that the government of Panama was not exactly a trustworthy guardian of the Canal. Rivera admitted later, "We downplayed the whole incident. That was the day I decided that I had to be very careful about what was said, because I could defeat the very thing [passage of the Treaty] that I wanted to achieve."

Most reporters want to display the world as they see it, with the goal of presenting how they think the world works. But instead of seeing pattern in events, journalists with materialist worldviews simply see the random effects of time plus chance. When readers and viewers complain about the patternlessness of it all, journalists in turn tend to complain about readers and viewers demanding more than they feel they can offer.

The end result of this spiking of the spiritual is what could be called Wheel of Fortune journalism. The name comes from television's most popular game show. The game takes some skill, but winners are generally those who avoid a bad spin of the wheel. Chance apparently rules, and the audience tunes in regularly.

"Wheel of Fortune's" success has the heads of television journalists spinning. When a local station puts "Wheel" on against news shows, the game show often gets higher ratings than Dan Rather, Tom Brokaw, or the local anchor. One network executive said, "You try to do everything right journalistically. . . and then the most successful game show in the history of the land comes along and cuts your head off." Another executive said, "It's dumb luck."

But is it dumb luck? Or does "Wheel's" success reveal something about the failure of typical news shows? News shows tend to have standard stories of people murdered, houses destroyed by fire, and so on. There is no explanation, and the game goes on: Some are winners, most are losers. That description of a news show sounds like"Wheel of Fortune." The main difference is that "Wheel of Fortune" has flashing lights and more glamour: Same product, better package. Why shouldn't viewers prefer it?

Typical newspaper stories also show the tendency to ascribe events to chance. A Houston Post article related that a twenty-year-old woman "was killed because her hand accidentally snagged on a purse that had been grabbed by a man" who demanded money and shot her when she seemed to be resisting. The Post's cause of death, explicitly, was bad luck on the wheel of fortune. Yet, what about the sin of a murderer on drugs who had become so corrupt that he was willing to kill? What about the sin of cultural leaders who tolerate and even encourage drug use? What about the activity of the murder victim who was sitting in a park at 3:30 A.M. after an evening of drinking? (She was certainly not to blame for what happened, but foolish actions do have consequences.)

Instead of probing, typical materialist explanations trivialize. One Wednesday, a fourteen-year-old student received on his report card an "F" for French. The next day he went to school, attended his classes, and at about 1 P.M. went to his French class. He waited outside the door for the previous class to be dismissed. The bell rang. The teacher opened the door. The student calmly shot her dead and wounded three others.

In the irony of God's providence, the student had mistakenly killed a substitute teacher. An NBC reporter told the story, explaining that the student was "upset" over the "F." A mild word, "upset," to describe lack of self-control leading from anger to murder. A bland word, "upset," to leave us shaking our heads over the wheel of fortune and saying, "How could a nice young man do such a thing?"

Deeper causes of the deaths of the twenty-year-old woman and the substitute French teacher-the war of Satan against God, and Satan's use of corrupting sin-are hidden from us. We do know, however, that every skirmish does have some significance in that war. Even without speculating about the heavenlies, a reporter looking for pattern in life and death, rather than assuming the operation of chance, can produce far richer stories than those developed by spiking the spiritual.

According to materialist reporters, though, life is a process of chance. Spin the wheel and see what number comes up. Most readers and viewers are so used to this method of presentation that it is difficult to imagine the news being done in any other way. Yet, what a weak and superficial journalism we have when materialism rules! What a profligate wasting of a proud heritage!

PART ONE QUOTE
All the devils in hell and tempters on earth could do us no injury if there were no corruption in our own natures.

-C.H. Spurgeon


NEXT » Not Without Personal Cost
« PREVIOUS The Decline of American Journalism