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Not so fast says Jeffrey Bilbro, editor in chief of Front Porch Republic and the author of the new book Reading the Times: A Literary and Theological Inquiry into the News, published by IVP Academic. Bilbro warns that “objects on screen are more distant than they appear,” and that “the public sphere is simply not conducive to the formation of loving, sustaining communities.” He writes this:
When the news sets itself up as the light of the world, it is usurping the role that rightly belongs only to the Word proclaimed in the gospel. But when the news helps us attend together to the ongoing work of this Word, it plays a vital role in enabling us to love our neighbors.
So take a walk! Carve some wood. Spend time in embodied communities. And don’t worry too much about that next election, he says:
Epistemic humility, particularly regarding the workings of Providence, requires us to acknowledge that even when our candidate loses, or when a court case is decided in a way that seems wrong, or when tragedy strikes, God is still working out his will—and he cannot be defeated. The reverse holds true as well: it may be that just when we think we are winning, we are going astray from God’s kingdom. A high view of Providence and a chastened sense of our ability to recognize God’s methods of victory frees us from worrying about whether a given event is good or bad.
Bilbro joins me on Gospelbound to discuss the perverse incentives of our media ecosystem, holy apathy, and whether anything good can come from TV news.