Fake news and pointless power games - Pastor's pen for 23rd August

Croatian theologian Miroslav Volf wrote this yesterday:

We are drowning in fake news and often complain about it. But it’s ubiquitous partly because we actually crave it. We fear truth about the world and replace it with fantasy – just as we fear truth about our own hearts & flood ourselves with a steady stream of our intimate “fake news.”

Robbie Burns in the Octagon, Dunedin NZ

It is sobering to me how the current social media age enables so many people to share their opinions online, particularly in the comments sections of news broadcasts and official posts about all manner of things. Folk delude themselves that their opinions are of relevance. People share their whacko ideas because they can. Foolishness comes swirling along with wisdom like a flood. In a pandemic I am interested in the opinion of the Director General of Health and the epidemiologist from Otago University, also the medical science geek from Auckland Uni. Politically changed pseudo-science and innuendo are of little value.

Obviously, it makes people feel better to vent or express online, perhaps a kind of self-therapy. However, online is where a toxic soup of conspiracy theories around Covid-19, 5G, and some 'one world government' nonsense bubbles. A saddening number of Christians buy into this.

In the dark ages, people thought you could catch the plague from 'bad air.' Modern science shows this to be false. By all means consider a range of opinions and 'facts', but marry your common sense and biblical faith to cool-headed science.

I say all this from an online platform afforded to me weekly, where I can share my wisdom or foolishness freely. I do not take that for granted. It's purpose at this time is for us to stay connected as a faith community, and for me to try to be a pastor from a distance. Sometimes you express your opinions about my thoughts, which are welcome as correction or encouragement.

Apostle Paul instructs the Roman Church:

'For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgement, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.' (Romans 12:3 NRSV)

May we always regard our own offerings of wisdom and instruction as provisional, subject to further illumination via the Holy Spirit or wiser, more learned friends. That beloved Australian cartoonist Michael Leunig penned a prayer in praise of birds, part of which I will share with you in closing; '...especially we praise their disregard for the human hierarchy and the ease with which they leave their droppings on the heads of commoners of kings regardless..' May we continue to be aware of our shared fallibility and humanity. Amen

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