Friday, September 28, 2012

Integrity and Civility in News Media

On Wednesday, Sep. 26th, 2012, a 13 year old boy ended his life with the pull of a trigger. He was on campus at Stillwater Junior High School in Stillwater, OK. Many of his peers and some faculty witnessed his suicide. Several news organizations began to connect aspects of the developing story with larger, unrelated themes and events. The victim was dressed in a superhero costume, as part of a theme-week activity with the school. One news agency linked that to the Aurora, CO shooter.

Friday, Sep. 28th, 2012, a man who had been involved in a high speed chase with police, and having fired his gun at the officers, fled his vehicle, pointed his gun at his head and ended his life. Fox News mistakenly aired his suicide on their nation-wide evening broadcast.

Fox News anchor Shepherd Smith somberly apologized for the error, saying that once the man had left his vehicle the news broadcast went to a 5 second delay were something terrible to happen. It did. Twice. The man killed himself and Fox, even with their delay somehow aired the event.

Are we so desensitized to one another, the feeling of community, the connection of humanity and belonging  that we are willing to go to such challenging and disruptive lengths to gain a market edge? Fox News already dominates the cable news ratings. Does America really need to know and watch a high speed chase? There are movies for that.

The indirect tragedy of the Stillwater Junior High story is how quickly reports became hyper inflated, almost intentionally in order to gain clicks, views, re-tweets and shares (read that as "ratings").

The question, "have we forgotten that..." is already answered. Yes. We have forgotten.

We've forgotten that these are human beings, with families and friends and dignity, who deserve respect and peace. We've forgotten how to mourn death, so we try to remove ourselves from it by turning it into sensationalized entertainment.

We've forgotten that some folks struggle with real problems, and real depression, and real pain. Too many people suffer from increasing stress and pressure and guilt and anxiety and confusion. We've forgotten them and their struggles.

And the culture of entertainment-journalism has fed us with out of context sound bites and given us the sweet drink of opinion as fact reporting.

Perhaps Shepherd Smith will pull a Will McAvoy and start a campaign for civility and integrity in reporting. Perhaps he will lead a charge within his industry for a return to analysis of fact and seeking truth. Perhaps "We report. You decide." will actually have real meaning one day.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Sermon 7-29-12

Week 2 of my foray into weekly preaching. Thankfully it was my last for a while. 

We know this story – it’s a great sermon starter for a stewardship message that could practically write itself - especially when interpreted as the people being inspired by the faithfulness of the boy to lay it all on the table and share what he had for the benefit and wellbeing of all.

But this is not that sermon. 

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Urban farm blinds

Our bedroom windows face the south, the ceiling is vaulted and there's zero attic space above it. So in the summer, it's an oven. There is usually a 5 degree difference from our room and the rest of the house.

So we got some sun blocking curtains for the bottom windows, but there are 2 smaller windows above.

These windows let in a lot of light, which i don't mind- but the accompanying heat is something else. Plus, several times a year the moon shines in RIGHT IN MY FACE!

What to do...

We've been going off this "urban farm" idea for a while with some other decor, so we thought we'd play with that. We had some old fence panels hanging around in the backyard, just loitering and causing a general ruckus. So I figured I'd dispatch them.

Introducing, window fencing!

Behold, a glorious wonder of wood and nails! And sun-blocking power! (not rated for UV-A or UV-B protection)

I think we'll paint something crafty on the inside, like "Keep It Clean!" or "Put Away Your Socks!". I'll probably paint something on the side that faces the street like, "Get Off My Lawn!".

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Sermon 7-22-12

So, as my mother pointed out, in reference to my sisters and I:
"So nobody is updating their blogs.

i'm sad.
I love reading what my brilliant children and good-children are writing.
you all are so smart.
get to it!
I haven't updated in over a month. Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up. Buttercup is marry Humperdink in little less then half an hou. ...

I was hired for the last half of July and first half of August as the full-time Minister of Administration at my church. It was a 4-week gig that I'm happily unemployed from. I attended more meetings and took more phone calls in those 4 weeks than I did in the previous 7 months. Reason for this little journey, as I mentioned earlier  the transition minister left the position immediately, so it left an administrative and pastoral care void until the new Interim Minister began in August. 

So I preached on 7/22 and 7/29. check the July 22nd sermon after the jump: