The Problem of Press

I come to this post from a number of positions I have long, long, held as truths that in my view, intersect. If you expect thick paint and a very wide brush, you will be disappointed.

My continual mention of authority being the core issue in all relationships and relational blowouts, who gets their way, who controls/”runs the show” and how each individual, group or all of us in any nation or for that matter, on the planet both think and feel about “it” whatever the issue -is foundational.

Few in the Western world will return (if they ever experienced in the first place) a lifestyle of bartering, hunting-gathering, living off the land survivalism, subsistence living in rural areas. Some reading this may romaticize such a life but most will not and in fact most of us live in urban areas or near enough that the conveniences and benefits even WITH the miseries and dangers- are not things we are prepared to lose.

I am as comfortable in the woods and on the waters, small towns and the like as I am in massive urban areas. I may be a minority in that sense, but there you are.

My point is urban and rural dwellers are not 100 percent living in the same ethos and who “wins”, who gets control re. comfort, perceived and actual needs, standard of life often boils over when elections and indeed, press comes into play.

Anyone with a Facebook, Twitter or other social media account, perhaps a blog or doing things that garner public notice of interest (to somebody anyhow!) is “fair game” for press of some sort. Individuals are free to write, pod/vidcast or opp-ed about you and I and anyone via a massive and I mean MASSIVE communications infrastructure which in a nation with a Constitution such as ours largely allows. Make no mistake, I’m FOR IT!! BRAVO PRESS -whether you’re truly “idiots” or simply trying to make a living, trying to better or destroy people. File me under GO FREE PRESS, regardless. The historical alternatives to this are horrific and too obvious to reference here.

IS there such a thing as “false news”, what elementary school teachers have taught as “yellow journalism” long before my early years in English classes? Of course. Nothing new under the sun.

I’ve written both blogs and lyrics re. truth, lies, propaganda and both true and false judgment for years. Even in the churches among professing Christians gossip, slander and just “grapevine” chatter is common, right or wrong, for good or ill, whether fully true, fully false or any variation or mixture on either side of that spectrum.

Did any of us REALLY expect anything different from public media outlets, be they social media, radio, tv or film, much less personal social media, whatever and however?!!

On top of this never forget plenty of people are after more personal gain (or keeping what they have),publicity, fame, greater and better-paying job offers, building personal empires and such. We can (and do) guess what the motives must be for this or that person but can we not admit we are not God and do not know for certain in each and every case?

And yet, just like developers, “positioning”, “branding” often means getting control and once the land is yours, you build with profit motive. Is this ALWAYS evil or ALWAYS good? Too simplistic to say yes to either of these in my view.

Meanwhile Jesus says things like “By your words you shall be justified and by your words you shall be condemned.” Proverbs states “Life and death are in the power of the tongue”. Back to New Testament: “People will give account for ever careless world they uttered”. So please know my personal position with regard to my faith and relationship to Jesus Christ and The Bible brings me back to these verses and like texts over and over again. IF it’s about personal profit, all bets are NOT off, because often betting and hitting the jackpot is precisely what folks are after… sometimes.

The press are in business like all business people, to make money. I know, right?!! Duhhh. Whoda thunk it 🙂 !

ALL of them are liars? ALL politicians are liars? ALL. THE. TIME.? Please! You can’t have a brain or for that matter heart, you cannot literally be anyone but “judge of all the earth” if you take such an extreme view. As Yoda posed, “So certain are you”!

“To whom much is given much shall be expected.” Indeed. And it does come back to power, does it not? Who is believed. Put another and very important way, who “wins”. Who can persuade, sway (with or without actual integrity as to motive and goal) public opinion. Because branding is everything. Well not according to Jesus but I digress…

The two immediate problems that come to my mind at this juncture of reality are that any person or group of them can pretty much say what they like and will be believed because of any number of factors, at very least “I LIKE” or “I AGREE” with them, their general ethos, their typical thinking, policy idea or simply “I’ll get more of what I want/need/am comfortable with”. Sadly, in all this truth and indeed integrity are left out of the picture.

Indeed editors, program directors, the researchers, reporters, writers, publishers, management and owners all have motives and goals. Again, DUHHH. To say all are “pure as the driven snow” is plain ignorant because only God knows (and sometimes not even the individual doing the communicating does) what their own actual motives (good or bad, righteous-sinful, productive or destructive) ARE. We guess. We kick ideas and concepts around like a football (soccer… see what I just did there?) and OF COURSE YOU WANT TO CONTROL THE MESSAGE! So does everyone reading this, president, news outlet, movin’-up-the-ladder persons, angry peasants with pitchforks.

History is clear in that plenty of political leaders, church folk and common people thought the printing press and therefore Bible in the language of the locals would BLOW THE WORLD APART.press Actually, it did, ultimately in very good ways as I and most people see it.

On the other hand the Nazi’s along with plenty others, were/are textbook heroes with regard to propaganda. The Klan. Lenin, Stalin, there’s a long list of despots and racists to choose from on this line. One of the core concepts is if you publish lies long and loud enough the people will accept them as truth itself.

An old Jewish proverb says “A half truth is a complete lie”.

I think the Galatians chapter five “fruit of the Spirit” of “self-control”, and things like “love, patience, kindness” and the like “against such there is no law” along with a deep gratitude for God’s grace with a generous helping of true humility starting with you, and in my case, beginning with me… is what my Soul Doctor Jesus truly orders. If, as and when these attributes and attitudes become part of us we may well lose something. Oh, say, our position, we may get  fired, suffer financial loss, freak out at the pain involved, lose friends, all SORTS of “negative stuff” can happen when you don’t swim with the rest of the fish.

Fish frys! Our family had a lot of ’em when I was growing up. So welcome to the chef’s job! Did you really expect everyone to dig every dish you ever created? Really? Every kitchen gets hot eventually and someone will choose to eat elsewhere at some point.

So (forgive me), from “Interviewing Icons”, a little booklet of prose I wrote in 1992:

THE PROBLEM WITH PRESS

first i must say plural
see i liked the sound of the singular
but for accuracy–it’s problems!
do i believe all the good things
do i accept the criticisms
they missed a few strengths
they need my list of critiques!
and the hype–these icon makers!
by what criteria–no–whose criteria
is art judged?
comparison by comparison?
trend by trend?
i must stop noticing press

the problem with press
is that
i’m in it.

I’ve done enough interviews to know the press (or anyone wagging tongue) can make you out to be Jesus or Judas with a turn or two of a word or phrase. You cannot truly control them so you cannot control public opinion… but ohhhh don’t we wish we could? Truth? Naaa, “win-lose” baby. Much as I love sports, I detest this approach to living where beating down your opponent is somehow deemed the natural, normative way to function. I rarely use the word hate, but I truly hate such as a life-tactic because love is truly set outside the door of such a life.

Years ago our particular approach to music was loved or hated and thus spoken of as such -loudly 🙂 Now, the problem is (as they often say in social media re. relationships) “it’s complicated”. And we live in a sound-bite world.

So we bite and swallow “what GLENN says” or whomever it may be. We figure “Hey, I like her/him/them -or- hate ’em, so I don’t need to think any deeper nor do any more serious consideration before I form my near-perfect (!) opinion and judge accordingly”.

Jesus’ treatment as He discussed Samaritans, Jews and gentiles comes to mind. Seems to me compassion, integrity and inclusion was His approach. He seems to continually side with the downtrodden and repeatedly challenges the rich and powerful. Yet a rich, religious ruler/insider was one of the guys He spelled out eternal life to in the most gracious of conversations (see Book of John chapter 3!). We cannot be sure how humble the dude was but in that he cared enough for direct discussion says something. In fact I think it says a lot.

Scream “politics!” all you like, that’s not how I came to my thinking at all. Bible. Relationship. Mercy, kindness, truth even when suffering results.

So I say rock on. Crank it up. You can be a virtuoso thespian or a full-on hack actor and someone will buy what you’re sellin’. Or not.

In the end I am convinced we’ll all stand before the judgment seat of God. Seems like I read that somewhere. I say this not as a defense or deflect (plenty have played that card using this sort of Bible text) but as a personal conviction which indeed shapes my relationships and my willingness to speak the truth in love best as I know how. I blunder regularly, sin daily, repent every single day and trust God for mercy without which I’m in the soup just as anyone else. Sometimes it means I must remain silent. Either way, hits will come as we journey through life in a fallen world regardless of your integrity or lack of it.

What’s love got to do with it? Everything. I’m convinced love is EXACTLY what must motivate us in thought, word, public and private choices. When it does not, whether you agree or think so, I believe my God does and therefore I respect and seek Him accordingly.

I suggest all of us, not merely Christians, not merely those in “the press”, politics, corporate leadership or the churches, all of us benefit from the open exchange of ideas even when the very ideas are suspect, flawed, or simply run against what we may like. My God loves those I am most tempted to verbally trash or even hate. He calls me to examine myself, pray, consider, act or not act out based in my best understanding of His love and truth. He Himself, and this ethic is my pursuit in life regardless of power, position, press, acclaim or persecution.

May God give you and I grace enough to share and strength enough to pay the price of sharing.

As always, thanks for stopping by! -Glenn

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