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  • Writer's pictureTom Emanuel

BEARERS OF GOOD NEWS... This Week at UCC Watertown

"If you don't like the news, go out and make some of your own.” --Wes Nisker

The death of Washington Post writer Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul has put journalism itself in the news this week. It was certainly on our minds this past Monday night at the Watertown Public Library, as a group of us took part in One Book South Dakota. This year’s book, which we read along with hundreds of others all across the state, was Informing the News: The Need for Knowledge-Based Journalism by Harvard journalism professor Thomas E. Patterson.

We are more connected than ever, and yet quality, knowledge-based news seems harder and harder to find. Freedom of the press is restricted in too many places around the world, as Khashoggi’s tragic killing points up. Just as perniciously, though, fake news and misinformation abound.  Controlled by a handful of huge media conglomerates, networks and papers too often care more about their bottom line than they do about the common good. Knowing that negativity and sensationalism sell papers, news media live by the old saying, “if it bleeds, it leads.” But what they gain in revenue they are likely to lose in respect and relevance, abdicating their responsibility to the public.

In short: Good News is hard to find.

Any biblical scholar worth their salt will tell you that the Christian Bible is not a journalistic account of “what happened” two thousand years ago. Rather, it is a creative attempt to spread the Gospel (Old English godspel, literally “good news”) of Life, Death, and Resurrection. Biblical writers went to great lengths in accomplishing their goal, employing metaphor, symbolism, multiple perspectives, hyperbole, allusion, colorful exaggeration, and even apocalyptic fury to make their point.

Just because parts of the Bible aren’t literally true, in the sense of journalistically factual, doesn’t make them “fake news.” In fact, when we read critically and intentionally, the Bible can be one of our best news sources. It keeps our attention focused on the truth of God’s presence behind the relentless negativity and manipulations of the 24-hour news cycle. It reminds us that despite all evidence to the contrary, hope springs eternal. And it invites us to become reporters of the Good News that nothing in all creation, not even death itself, can come between us and the love of God (Romans 8:39).

My prayer for us this week is that we may we choose our news sources critically and intentionally, so that they aren’t biased by corporate interests or political ideologies that stand in opposition to God’s law of love. And I pray that each one of us might become “citizen journalists” in the Reign of God and share the hope and grace that we have found with others.

Blessin’s, --Tom

QUESTIONS FOR THE WEEK: Where do you get your news? How do your beliefs impact your media consumption? What makes a “credible source” for you?



Wednesday 10/24

•     Wednesday Youth Church, 6pm

•     UCCW Choir, 7pm

Thursday 10/25

•     Tom’s Community Office Hours, 9am-12pm @ Gather

Friday 10/26

•     Pastor Tom’s Installation Service, 5pm at the church with dinner to follow. Music by Bruce Reinhardt. Official Prairie Lakes Association representative, Rev. Marjie Brewton. Carmen Pacheco, friend and colleague of Pastor Tom, will preach.

Sunday 10/28

•     Adult Bible Study, 8:45am

•     Sunday Worship 10am - All Hallows Sunday, children and adults are invited to come in costume!

•     Book Study 4pm, (Fellowship Hall)

Wednesday 10/31

•     Pastor Tom @ LATI community office hours 9am – 12pm

•     NO Wednesday Youth Church (Halloween)

•     UCCW Choir, 7pm

Thursday 11/1

•     Tom’s Community Office Hours, 9am-12pm @ Gather

Sunday 11/4

•     Communion Worship service with candle light memorial. We will honor those of our fellowship who have died during the past year by reading their names and lighting a candle in their memory.

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