"Dear friend, guard Wisdom and Insight with your life; don't for a minute lose sight of them. They'll keep your soul alive and well. You'll take afternoon naps without a worry, you'll enjoy a good night's sleep. No need to panic over alarms or surprises, or predictions that doomsday's just around the corner, because God will be right there with you." - Proverbs 3:21-26 (The Message, adapted)
The theologian Karl Barth said that Christians ought to chart their course with the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other. These days especially, it can feel like we are committing Christian malpractice if we don't devote hours a day to the accumulation of knowledge: short headlines, long think pieces, Twitter feeds, and Facebook rants about every current event, all in the name of being an informed person of faith.
The many justice issues of the day do require our attention and a strong moral witness. Those of us who belong to local UCC churches likely made a promise when we joined as members to "resist oppression and evil" as followers of Jesus Christ.
But our compulsion to consume news risks filling us with an anxiety and outrage that can actually enervate our ability to act, or make us feel as if we have actually done something when we have not. It also denies that, at the end of the day, we are living through one small slice of human history. It lures us into a kind of idolatry—thinking that it all depends on us—and denies that God has any agency apart from our own activism.
Putting down the newspaper (or the phone), and picking up the Bible, can help us regain perspective, find comfort, and churn our knowledge into wisdom.
God, motivate me to set down the news and pick up your Word. Amen.
Molly Baskette is Senior Minister of First Congregational Church UCC in Berkeley, California, and the author of the best-selling Real Good Church, Standing Naked Before God, and her newest baby, Bless This Mess: A Modern Guide to Faith and Parenting in a Chaotic World.