Watching the News makes us DUMB?

Many folk consider themselves well-informed because they watch or read the news. T David Gordon, in his book Why Johnny Cant Sing Hymns, pgs 111-112, [Pand R Publishing, New Jersey, 2010] writes the following, which should make us think a bit about what we spend our time and energy on today.

“This Lippmann-Boorstin discussion reached a fairly current moment with the 1999 appearance of Professor C. John Sommerville’s How the News Makes Us Dumb: The Death of Wisdom in an Information Age. A historian, Sommerville has a predictable thesis: there is wisdom to be gained from giving our attention to things that happened some time ago (say, thirty years or more). The consequences of such events can be observed, and a chorus of interpreters of those consequences can place their thoughts before the public, which can judge whether the interpreters of those consequences are right, whether lessons can be learned. But this cannot be done with what happened yesterday. We do not and cannot know the consequences of a recent event, nor is there time for competent interpreters to develop their interpretations. The news “makes us dumb” because we give our attention to what can never make us wiser.

“Sommerville joined his voice to those of Lippmann and Boorstin in reminding us that commercial forces, and commercial forces alone, have cultivated the appetite for “the news”. There is no other way to account for it, since there is no other reason to give attention to whatever has happened, simply because it has happened, and happened recently. But in giving so much attention to what is recent, Sommerville argues, we become contemporaneists, people who intuitively believe that giving attention to what is recent is more important than giving attention to what is not recent. Otherwise, why would I care to read a newspaper account of someone robbing a convenience store yesterday rather than read an account of Abraham Lincoln’s presidency? And again, it is entirely understandable that commercial forces will benefit from this; the question is why we permit those commercial interests to dictate our choices and our values.”

Perhaps we just do not understand where to find wisdom. If not on Fox, CNN, talk-radio, etc ad infinitum ad nauseum, then where? Perhaps a liberal arts education? That is the what the fathers of the LCMS thought when they developed the system of schools/colleges and seminaries. It was liberalism which said that the preacher should enter the pulpit with the newspaper and the bible and seek to be relevant. Perhaps the fathers of the LCMS and those confessional Lutherans before, understood what Solomon meant when he said in Proverbs

Prov. 4:5 Get wisdom! Get understanding!
Do not forget, nor turn away from the words of my mouth.
Prov. 4:7 Wisdom is the principal thing;
Therefore get wisdom.
And in all your getting, get understanding.
Prov. 16:16 How much better to get wisdom than gold!
And to get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver.