Have you heard the expression “Pray with the bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other?”
Let’s explore it in this Vincentian Mindwalk.
Andrew McCarty begins his reflection on How to Read the News as a Christian…
When you hear someone say, I don’t know about you, but I just love… (take your pick)
I don’t even need to see you right now to know what you’re thinking!
Roughly half of you want to close this window immediately because you judge me for upholding the stereotypes of White men while others silently applaud my right-side enlightenment.
McCarty says what I believe we know… each of us carries gut-reaction biases to the ABC’s, Breitbart’s, CNN’s, FOX’s, MSNBC’s of the world.
From biases to prayer
We need to ask … where are our gut reactions and biases leading us?
Left alone, do they lead us deeper into a Kingdom of love and grace? Conversely, by insulating ourselves, do we risk surrendering to apathy, anger, or worse towards others who think differently?
McCarty suggests ways of moving beyond our biases to praying the news of the day.
He calls for us to
- approach the news as learners,
- receive news from a broad array of sources,
- deepen our awareness of our bias, and
- have the humility to pray about the news long before we react to the news
Another article, “Prompts for Praying the News, took me further.
Prompts for Praying the news
This article took me beyond my biases to actually “praying the news” we consume.
What if there is another way? What if we first create space to meet God in a hurting world?
To begin, take some time—either before you read the news or after you have heard a particularly moving story—to quiet your heart. After taking time to quiet yourself, follow these prompts for praying the news:
- “Read through or watch the news story, and offer your initial reaction to God.
- “What do you carry as you come into this time? Surrender that reaction to him and ask for a heart that reflects his. Take a few more minutes of quiet.
- Who in the story do you feel yourself drawn towards?
- Who do you feel a resistance toward? Has your mind created a dichotomy between “us” and “them” or a “good vs. bad” mentality?
- Ask God for the humility to see that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
The fruit of the Spirit
He reminds us, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, peace, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control.
- Do you see anything rising up in you that is not of the spirit (i.e. hate, stressful striving, fear, impatience, arrogance, pride, ugliness, apathy, or impulsiveness with words or actions)?
- “Keep in mind that sorrow over the brokenness in the world mirrors God’s heart.
- Anger at injustice or brokenness can be the exact thing that moves us towards action, (unless it turns to self-righteousness and condemnation of others).
- “In what way can you move toward the kingdom in your own life regarding the story you’ve just read or witnessed? “
- “How can you move in love towards your enemy?
- “How can you seek to understand another’s perspective?
- “If you feel an anxious energy to act immediately, sit with this longer. Be sure you are being motivated by love. Your anxiousness may be an indicator of something other than love (i.e. self-protection, ego, etc.).
Isn’t this the kind of listening that Pope Francis calls us to?