A critical eye is warranted. Newspapers, like all the works of men, are imperfect things, and the nation's newspaper editors and television-news producers are very much at fault for the low general level of trust in the media. But they do not traffic wholesale in fiction. All of the cries of "fake news!" in the world are not going to change that.
A good rule of thumb moving forward in this brave new world is: if some shocking, scandalous, or crazy revelation makes its way across your newspaper, television, or web browser, take a deep breath. Investigate further. Verify the facts.
Shame, Guilt, or Fear?
Which is the emotion that Americans struggle with most? While traditional evangelical preaching has rightfully focused on helping people find a way out of guilt, it seems today more people struggle with shame.
Shame has become particularly powerful in American culture in the internet age, said Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research. A single mistake or embarrassing moment posted on social media can ruin a person's life. "What's our biggest cultural fear? Shame," he said. "What's surprising is not that personal freedom, ambition, and doing the right thing are valued by Americans. It's that risk to our reputation is what matters most."
This does not mean abandoning talk of guilt, because a lot of shame is driven by guilt. But it might mean focusing on verses that address shame, from Jesus enduring our shame (Heb. 12:2) to "Whoever believes in him will not be put to shame" (Rom. 9:33)—among many, many others. Andy Crouch wrote about this eloquently in CT two years ago in Return to Shame. (Sorry LifeWay, we scooped you.)
A Porn Optimist
That would not be me! Mostly I link to articles that are thoughtful or praiseworthy in some way, even if I disagree with some things or find the tone disagreeable. This link is NOT one of those. I share it to suggest how normalized porn has become in our land. In more places, it's often talked about in the language of pro and con, on the one hand or the other, as if it's just one of a number of issues we can improve through one technique or another. So while the author acknowledges that porn creates "serious problems," overall, he's optimistic that we can learn to use it for good:
The interactive nature of virtual reality has the potential to turn pornography users from mere onlookers into participants in an experience. This means we can envisage a different kind of pornography delivered by these technologies.
Since young people will always access pornography, perhaps we should be seeking to change these experiences into something more positive.
Instead of predicting doom, perhaps we should insist on a more positive future from virtual reality porn.
Apples, Oranges, and Toads
From the blog Siris comes this delightful piece on how different cultures use two items to suggest difference. We say you can't compare apples and oranges, while the French and Spanish say you can't compare apples and pears. And then there are the Serbians, who say you can't compare grandmothers and toads. And there's more!
Grace and peace (which can be compared),