For anyone interested in the wider world, the windows we have to it each has its own perspectives. In terms of the mass media, the press and TV and radio channels all bring their own proclivities to their choices not only of what we see and hear, but their interpretations of what it means.
The narrower, pervasive views that are custom made for us by Facebook and our search engines use sophisticated algorithms to discern our interests.
In a strange paradox, given the ubiquity of media, we can live more and more in our own bubble of self-reinforcing information.
The other challenge with all this information coming to us is, how are we to interpret and make sense of it? It is tempting to “pull up the drawbridge” so to speak, and create a world of our own security. Yet life and health and the Spirit won’t let that last for long.
It does become an issue of “what turns your head?”
Many competing claims to attention, and to truth, surround us. Voices play on our fears or our hopes. How do we sift the claims and discern the times?
One of the profound gifts of the Judeo-Christian tradition is that it is rich with themes and issues that can help us make sense of events today, and mitigate the potential to be drawn into either being seduced by the sirens of the media or the desire to retreat inside our castle.
The Preacher, the writer of Ecclesiastes, said in his discourse on life, “There is nothing new under the sun”. His rather resigned view of life was that the best we can do is to enjoy of it what we can, as we are soon gone.
Yet a good understanding and knowledge of the Old and New Testaments, and of Christian thought down through the centuries, gives us a solid framework from which we can have a better awareness of who is seeking to turn our heads, and in what direction they are pointing us.
If we, the Christian community, are going to be salt, yeast, and light in our many manifestations and engagements, then we of all people need to develop the capacity to discern the times and the messages.
Only a life—individual or communal—grounded in the great salvation story, in living that story out in our lives, will have the capacity to sift the messages and discern the times.