Category Archives: society

When Did The Evening News Become The 24/7 Conjecture?

GREAT ASCENT WITH GREATER DESCENT

There has been much marvelous advancement in broadcast journalism since I came into this world. At that time, we only had a console radio in our home. When I was a toddler, we got our first black-and-white TV but we could only get reception from one local TV station. By the time I was old enough to start paying attention to the news, we were able to receive broadcasts from local affiliates of the three major TV networks, as well as a weak signal from an independent station in another city. In the past 50 to 60 years, technological improvement has been phenomenal and the sources to choose from have increased by several orders of magnitude. However, as has been glaringly obvious lately, along the way, a key element of the news has been frighteningly perverted, if not lost. That key element is, simply, the reporting of the news. “Back in the day”, you could count on the fact that when you tuned in to news programs, like The CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite, you would just get the known details of that day’s current events. That seemed worthwhile and productive. Today, to a great degree, news reporting has become lost in a nearly endless supply of conjecture. This seems, at least counterproductive, if not dangerously destructive.

NO VALUE

The current coverage of the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 is, by far, the clearest example of this decline in broadcast journalism. I think Politico summarized the “not worthwhile” aspects of this well with an article entitled “Rush Limbaugh slams plane media ‘show’”. I’m not a “Ditto Head”. I very rarely listen to Limbaugh these days. But, I think he hit the nail on the head in saying,

“We’ve got anchors and anchorettes who don’t know beans about even why an airplane flies. They couldn’t explain the concept of air pressure differential or lift to you if their jobs depended on it. They go get guests, and nobody knows what happened here, so you got a bunch of people on TV who just want face time.”

DIMINISHED VALUE

Beyond Limbaugh’s “not worthwhile” points, there have been many instances where the coverage of this story has fallen into the category of “counterproductive, if not dangerously destructive”. Some of the current theories on why this flight has gone missing include:

  • Some incident led to the crew, or perhaps all on board, being rendered unconscious. The plane continued to fly until it ran out of fuel and it went down, most likely at sea.
  • Terrorism - The plane went down in a failed attempt.
  • Terrorism - The plane landed, to be used in a future attempt.
  • Hijacking - For some cargo on board.
  • Hijacking - For some person/s on board.
  • Crew suicide.
  • Some nation’s military mistakenly shot it down.
  • Struck by a meteor.
  • Taken by space aliens.
  • Sucked into a black hole.

ADDED VALUE

Now, I won’t say that none of this speculation has been interesting to me. It has, and I understand that it’s interesting to others too. But, beyond entertainment value, what does it accomplish. I don’t see it adding to solving the mystery. With the resources that our nation and dozens of other nations have dedicated to solving this mystery, I assume that it will be solved, if possible. The current press coverage adds nothing to that and in fact, it can detract by making it necessary for those seeking a solution to divert their attention in response to the press. Also, publicizing weaknesses that could be exploited by terrorists or hijackers or the suicidal doesn’t aid the experts doing the searching. It’s more likely to result in encouraging others with ill intent to carry out their evil plans. And, if I was among those who buy into meteor or space alien or black hole theories, I wouldn’t need the encouragement of the press to put on my tin-foil hat and head for my bunker in Northern Idaho. Moreover, I see none of this as bringing comfort to the loved ones of the crew and passengers who were aboard Flight 370. In my view, our society would be much better served by the media if they would limit themselves to, simply, reporting the known details of current events and applying enough true journalism to assure that all with related responsibility are held to account. If that was the case, I’d be completely comfortable in knowing what’s going on in the world and that all that can be done about a particular occurrence is being done. Furthermore, the resources that are currently being wasted on conjecture could be turned towards other issues that are just as important, if less titillating.

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Filed under Current Events, Journalism, media, society, The News, TV

All Are Precious In His Sight

Barbara Boyle's 3B Class - Warren Elementary - 1955-56

LIVE IN HARMONY

This past week, I got to spend a little time with a First Grade Teacher who is also one of my very favorite people. She was teaching our class to join her class in singing and signing a song called The World Is A Rainbow. This was in preparation for an assembly that, I assumed, was related to the upcoming Doctor Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. Although it would be an oversimplification (and somewhat outdated) for me to say that her purpose in this was to teach racial harmony, that was certainly a part of what she had in mind.

My first lesson in racial harmony came when I was First-Grade-aged or younger and it took place in church, not in school. Then, the song we sang was entitled Jesus Loves The Little Children. As I thought of these differences in experiences between the kids of today and the kids of my day, that led me to consider the ramifications.

ALL THE CHILDREN OF THE WORLD?! Continue reading

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Filed under Christians, Church Issues, community, Culture, diversity, Education, faith, Family, God, Jesus, Love, race, religion, society

Play Mean but Play Clean

dick-butkus-coverWhat comes to mind for you when you hear the name Dick Butkus? Immediately, I think along the lines of the caption on this Sports Illustrated cover … “Dick Butkus of the Bears – The most feared man in the game (NFL Football)”. No doubt, many others (especially those of my generation) share that same first thought. And, there’s ample justification for that line of thinking. The 6 ft 3 in, 245 lb Butkus, was known as one of the most feared and intimidating linebackers during his nine years as a player for the Chicago Bears.

Next, you may think of Dick Butkus as a celebrity endorser and actor. That’s my next thought too. And, here too, there’s plenty of good reason for thinking that way. The “most feared man in the game” persona of this Pro Football Hall of Fame member has been very effective in promoting brand names, from his Miller Lite commercials with Bubba Smith  to his “I’m sorry, Dick Butkus” spots for FedEx. And, Butkus has had numerous roles on TV and in the movies. He was even the namesake for Rocky’s English Mastiff, in both the Rocky and Rocky II movies.

So, if you met him today, wouldn’t you expect to meet a somewhat older version of the Dick Butkus you’ve come to know about over the years? That is, an imposing figure who still lives in his hometown, Chicago, whose time is mostly spent enjoying the leisure activities of retirement, along with some dabbling in the worlds of sports and entertainment. That’s what I thought when my Wife, Ruth and I had the pleasure of meeting him recently at a MarriageTeam Tailgate Party & Auction. I will say that the qualities I expected to find in his makeup all seemed to be present and undiminished. However, I also got to start becoming acquainted with some dimensions of the man that were a pleasant surprise. One of these is a campaign he started, called Play Clean™. It’s a program that encourages teens to “train hard, eat well, and play with attitude”, instead of resorting to illegal steroids. His willingness to take this stand against steroids caused USA Today to comment that Butkus may have a greater impact on the game in his 60s (now 70s) than he did playing in his 20s. Continue reading

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Filed under character, commitment, community, Culture, entertainment, faith, Family, ideals, Love, Making a Difference, Marriage, society, Sports, Substance Abuse, values

American Heroes and Idols

AROD

The kickoff of the NFL’s 2013 Regular Season was this past Thursday, September 5th. So, the enthusiasm of NFL fanatics for their idols is in full ramp-up mode. That fervor will reach a crescendo with Super Bowl XLVIII. Although I’m an MLB fan and not an NFL fan, there’s a part of me that has looked forward to this, to help take the spotlight off of the disgusting circumstances surrounding the MLB’s highest-paid player, Alex Rodriguez.

There’s no denying that Rodriguez is greatly gifted with baseball talent, talent that makes him more than qualified to be a sports hero. And, having sports heroes can be a good thing. My baseball hero, growing up, was Mickey Mantle. Of course, when I criticize Rodriquez as compared to Mantle, as a sports hero, others consistently bring up Mantle’s alcoholism. However, that was not commonly known during the Mick’s playing days and it had nothing to do with his reputation as a sports hero. He was looked to, as a role model, for the way he played the game on the field and nothing else. On the other hand, AROD’s off-the-field misbehavior is well-known. Sort of belying the present uproar, his use of steroids has been common knowledge for sometime. And then there’s his infidelity, leading to divorce, followed by serial womanizing. To me, it’s disturbing enough that, with these things out in the open, he has continued to be looked upon as a sports hero. What I find more disturbing is that he has been idolized for these very behaviors.

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Filed under character, community, Culture, ideals, society, values

Purple Mountain Travesty

Often, Baby Boomers, like me, are heard lamenting about things that aren’t “like they were when we were growing up.” These complaints can come off as one wishing to relive their childhood. In some instances, that, in fact, may be the case. In this instance, my grief is over losing a foundational quality to the greatness of American culture, a quality that drew our predecessors to this land in the first place. The following brief piece, presented by Bret Baier and Peter Boyer, of Fox News, is a good way to set the stage for what I want to address in this article:

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Filed under Big Government, character, charity, community, Culture, economy, Family, ideals, society, values

Because I Love My Homosexual Friends

From: Michele Phoenix

duct-tape-mouth

I’ve been encouraged NOT to publish this article.  “You’re going to get slammed,” a friend warned, knowing well that this topic can turn pacifists into thugs.  But I have to speak up.  I have friends, former students and relatives who are homosexual.  Each one of them is beautiful, valuable and honorable.  I love them.  I want them to know that I do—in all my magnificent cluelessness!  I don’t ever want them to think that their sexual identity and choices make them somehow less worthy of my loyalty than my heterosexual friends. So…thanks for the words of warning, but I need to voice these thoughts.  And if my inbox fills with hate mail again (it has before—it hurts when it does), I’ll deal with it.

Three preemptive explanations for the sake of clarity:

  • When referencing The Church, I am referring to “traditional” evangelical churches, particularly those that have expressed hatred toward the homosexual community.  I know there are exceptions.
  • This article is written from the perspective of this Jesus-follower.  I mention “sin” in the context of the Christian faith, as a conservative interpretation of the Bible defines it.  If you do not believe in the Bible’s authority, I understand that “sin” will sound offensive to you.  That is not my intention.  I am a sinner.  I live in (and can thrive in spite of) that reality.
  • I acknowledge that there are multiple theological stances regarding homosexuality and faith.  This is not a personal manifesto on the topic.  It is an essay about our failure to love.

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Filed under Bible, Christians, community, Culture, diversity, Family, Homosexuality, ideals, Love, Sin, society, values

Starfish and Ideals

As this launch of Here I Raise My Ebenezer was coming close, it struck me that the old story of the Starfish Thrower would serve as an excellent metaphor for what this site is about. I can’t tell you how many years ago (probably decades) it was that I first heard this story but it immediately and deeply touched my heart. It still does, anytime I think of it. If you’re not familiar with the Starfish Thrower Story, here is a brief version:

A young girl was walking along a beach upon which thousands of starfish had been washed up during a terrible storm. When she came to each starfish, she would pick it up, and throw it back into the ocean. People watched her with amusement.

She had been doing this for some time when a man approached her and said, “Little girl, why are you doing this? Look at this beach! You can’t save all these starfish. You can’t begin to make a difference!”

The girl seemed crushed, suddenly deflated. But after a few moments, she bent down, picked up another starfish, and hurled it as far as she could into the ocean. Then she looked up at the man and replied,

“Well, I made a difference to that one!”

Often, when I’m confronted with the daily news, I have that same sense expressed by the man on the beach when he said, “Little girl, why are you doing this? Look at this beach! You can’t save all these starfish. You can’t begin to make a difference!” Today, we hear of so many things going so much in the wrong direction in our world that when we wish there was something we could do about it, it seems overwhelming. But, the little girl in the story responded in the right way, the way we should be responding to the issues facing us, when she just diligently went back to the work that could be done immediately before her, saying, “Well, I made a difference to that one!”

The About page of this site says, “The aim of this site is to serve as a platform for presenting views that support America’s founding ideals, rooted in Judeo-Christian values, relative to issues impacting our community today.” Hopefully, you’ll find it obvious why I said that the story of the Starfish Thrower serves as an excellent metaphor here. We don’t expect that Here I Raise My Ebenezer will cause an immediate 180 degree turn in the devolution of our society but issue-by-issue, as the little girl in the story did starfish-by-starfish, we hope to bring healing to ills weakening our community’s foundation.

The role of our Writers is to speak up on these issues, to inform and to encourage constructive action. As Editor, on behalf of our Writers, I want to thank you for joining them here, to gain from their writing and to learn what you can do to end up being able to say, “Well, I made a difference to that one!”

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Filed under community, Culture, ideals, Making a Difference, society, values