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Sensationalism, commentary create anger, polarization


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I’m tired of the 24/7 news cycle, and I’m tired of feeling angry, and I’m wondering if the two are related.

News outlets desperate to fill airtime resort to sensationalism and commentary designed to gin up indignation and raise the ire of listeners.

Advocacy journalism on the major networks, the proliferation of cable news and character assassination on Internet blogs and websites create anger, polarization and fear.

Our nation has been deeply divided before (recall the Civil War and the Vietnam War), but division today seems driven by a cultural war — a clash of ideas about right and wrong, secularism versus religion, and government mandates versus the right of conscience.

It is often the case that the first casualty in any war is the truth.

We attempt to justify ourselves and create a false unity by demonizing others: the 1 percent, the Tea Party, the Occupy Movement, etc.

Political and religious leaders, as well as media personalities, build movements and create support for themselves by capitalizing on the tendency in each of us to point fingers.

Isn’t it convenient to believe that the source of our problems lies in others and outside each of us?

But this temptation is from the devil, the father of lies.

God’s word doesn’t lie, which is why you won’t hear it on the evening news.

God’s word leads us to confess our own sins, not those of others.

Republicans are just as sinful as Democrats. Occupiers are just as sinful as Tea Partiers.

All have turned aside from God; the tongues of all practice deceit.

The greatest threat to me isn’t someone else, but the sin that dwells within me.

The same can be said of you.

God’s word unifies us with the audacious claim that there is no one righteous, not even one.

God’s Word further unifies us with the audacious claim that God has already declared all sinners forgiven and righteous, not by their voting record or position on an issue, but through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The Apostle Paul wrote, “God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, not counting men’s sins against them.”

God no longer counts your sins against you.

Believe it, and you have the forgiveness Christ earned for you.

We are all equally lost, but more importantly we are all equally loved by God. The cross proves it.

This good news can never be heard enough, and it is the best medicine I know of to ease minds and calm hearts.

Spend too much time plugged into the ceaseless news cycle and you’ll likely become angry, frustrated and you’ll tend to point fingers at others.

Spend more time in God’s word and you’ll humbly acknowledge your own failures, you’ll rejoice in God’s mercy to you, and you’ll realize that all of us have more in common than you once assumed.

The Rev. John Armstrong is pastor of Columbus’ Grace Lutheran Church and may be reached at gracecolumbus.org.

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