I’m a news junkie.  I get it honest – I think my Dad’s idea of heaven on earth is for Mom to stash him in a magazine store and say “Don’t go anywhere for four hours”.  And when she returns, he’ll be saying “So soon?”.

I enjoy reading papers from other places, whether it’s Peoria or Peking.  Way back in the 80s, I worked at the Dayton Daily News, across the street from Wilkie News, in downtown Dayton.  I had newspapers delivered to my office twice a day, and my smoke-break-equivalent was going to the magazine store.  I was a kid in a candy shop.

So it pained me to make the decision to stop getting the local paper.   The problem was not just money – although that was the tipping point.  The quality and quantity of the paper had also gone down.  I’m reading stories on the web that don’t show up in print for a day or a week.  To keep their expenses down, the paper’s TV section was not doing 24-hour coverage.  Critical?  No, but impactful.  So we made the decision that our purchasing dollars would go to a different place.

We’re still getting World magazine.  It’s a Christian newsweekly that goes deep and has the proper world view (“World” view, ha ha).  They present angles that the secular press just doesn’t see.  They have movie, book, and record reviews that cover a surprising array of styles and artists.  And in columnist Andree Seu is, in my opinion, a modern-day C. S. Lewis.  Her columns on temptation (beginning here) and participation in life (beginning here) hung on my cube wall for months.  Highly recommended, in case you missed the undertone.

But what I’m working on avoiding in all the news is the sort of melodramatic, headline-grabbing stuff that is not uplifting.  I’m not going all pollyanna and rose-colored glasses.  But I don’t need to read about massive car wrecks in other places.  I don’t need details about murder-suicides, wherever they happen, or shoot-outs with cops, or people’s dangerous interactions with animals, or courtroom shootings, or things of that sort.  I know the world is a bad place.  I don’t need it reinforced.  I don’t need to be a rubbernecker at everything that goes wrong in the world.  I’m trying to stay away from the gross, the savage, the obscene, the pandering.  While Bettie and I were on the road recently, a 911 tape of the octuplet mother was played on one of the “news” shows from when one of her other children went missing earlier.  The tape indicated to me that the lady had some serious problems coping with life, but I don’t need that sort of drama and distress in my life.  I asked Bettie to change the channel. Now I’m doing that sort of thing with the news I read.

What to put in place of  the missing news?  God, and good things.  I get to read the Bible for about 45 minutes every morning on the bus.  Bettie and I are memorizing a monthly Bible verse (March’s is Romans 15:13, seen in the bathroom of a restaurant in Plattsburgh, NY.  God is everywhere!), and will be discussing its applications.  I’m consciously striving to adopt a better attitude at work.  I’m reading Stephen Arterburn’s Reframe Your Life: Transforming Your Pain into Purpose and Be Still: 31 Days to a Deeper Meditative Prayer Life (Really?  A book based on a DVD, from the same Judge Reinhold who did Fast Times at Ridgemont High and the Beverly Hills Cop series?  Yes.).

Why?  Two reasons.  1 Cor 6:19-20:

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?  For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.

and from Philippians 4:8 (from KJV and The Message, including verse 9)

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.

Good enough for me.

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