What kind of news?

A Christian Science perspective: With more and faster media, are we better informed, more discerning?

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As long as there have been people, there has been news. A recent Monitor feature explores the impact on society of the vast amount of ways now available to get news. For centuries, news traveled by word of mouth. As populations increased and migrated, and humanity’s inventiveness grew, means of communicating, as well as what was shared, developed.

Between the 1400s and 1800s, movable type, newspapers, and the telegraph changed the way news was distributed. But over the past 120 years, radio, motion pictures, television, cable, and the Internet have caused news delivery to become exponentially speedier, more voluminous, and varied. Publishing, too, has radically changed. Communication that required heavy machinery, dozens of people, and days or weeks to produce and disseminate, now can happen in hours or even minutes by a single individual with an online computer or a smart phone. It’s estimated that today more than 50 percent of 21-year-olds in the United States have published Web content, and that also of the more than 200 billion e-mails sent daily worldwide, 90 percent is spam, according to a 2009 educational YouTube video called “Did You Know 4.0."

With more and faster media, are we better informed, more discerning? And how can we tell what to pay attention to – or not? These questions are critical in a world swimming in words and images, where even personal information, shared, has instant and far-reaching consequences, inspiring higher ideals but also promoting conflict.

A proverb says, “The knowledge of the Holy One is insight and understanding” (Prov. 9:10, Amplified Bible). And St. Paul advised, “All that is true, all that is noble, all that is just and pure, all that is lovable and gracious, whatever is excellent and admirable – fill all your thoughts with these things” (Phil. 4:8, New English Bible).

These qualities were exhibited in the highest degree by Jesus, who we could say was the ultimate communicator. He was both message and messenger, bringing the good news or gospel of God and His spiritual creation to the world. He said that this Godly kingdom was “at hand,” that he didn’t come to tear down, but to fulfill, and that his teachings, adhered to, would enable anyone to have life “more abundantly.” This news wasn’t time-sensitive, but as timeless as it was immediately relevant. It revealed the truth that liberates, and that reworks lives to such an extent that those who have taken his news to heart have become testimonials to the love and power of God.

There's no biblical record of Jesus ever having been duped – or indulging in slander, gossip, or mere opinion. Instead, he healed affliction and put down sin. His spiritually scientific teachings can guide us, however massive or confusing the daily deluge of information, whatever the opportunities or temptations. In Christ, Truth, there is always a way to wisdom, peace, and health.

Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of this media source – and an ardent Christian herself – wrote in its first issue: “The object of the Monitor is to injure no man, but to bless all mankind.” This Christly motto can become our own, guiding each of us to thoughtful media choices and wise and compassionate news-sharing.

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