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A word about this blog

Daily News and Prayer is inspired by The Christian Science Monitor, one of the most important (and most underappreciated) newspapers in the world. Posts are usually (but not always) responses to articles in the Monitor about events and trends that call for prayer.

The blog's aim is to help strengthen humanity's collective confidence that we can triumph over even the most deeply entrenched evils, in ourselves and in the world.

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Note on submissions: If you would like to contribute to this blog, I would be happy to consider your submission. It should be 500 words or less, well written and fit the topic. Read several postings to get an idea of the subject matter and tone. It should also fit the audience, which is general, international and non-denominational.

Please email your submission to me at kscollins@gmail.com. I will get back to you as soon as I can. Please be aware that, while I appreciate the interest and efforts of anyone who wishes to write for the blog, publication is not guaranteed. If I feel your piece is promising but needs revision, I will let you know. Nothing will be published without your seeing the final copy.

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Monday
Jun222015

What is truth?

An occasional commentary based on Alain De Botton’s thought-provoking book, The News: A User’s Manual, about the role of news in modern society.

De Botton is a Swiss writer and philosopher – a philosopher of daily life, as some have called him. He is dedicated to taking a fresh look at things that we take for granted, and in 2014 he turned his eye on the news.

The news tells us the truth. Wars are fought and people die. Politicians buy votes and sell their souls. People have accidents and hurt themselves and others.

But how much of this is truth, really? Everyone knows that what the news reports each day is not the whole truth of what human beings do, or even a tiny fraction. The human trafficker filling up the boat in Libya may have kissed his children goodbye that morning. Perhaps the former action is one for the news report and the latter for a novel, but they are both relevant to a story about the human condition.

Billions of us don’t commit even small crimes. But that’s not news. Who wants to read about a mother who resisted the urge to stick the swimming suit into her purse and walk out of the store? Yet that’s us as much as, or maybe more than, the liar and cheat.

And what is truth at all? That’s a metaphysical question, of course, and it’s perhaps not the role of journalists to decide, but wouldn’t the news be more insightful if journalists were tuned into that level of truth, beyond what the senses are saying? After all, divine Truth is silently persuading and forcefully commanding us all the time, shaping human experience, whether we know it or not. What’s happening on the level where the human interacts with the divine may be the most important news of all to convey on any given story, but capturing it is hard, hard, hard.

This was not meant to be a set-up for another kind word for The Christian Science Monitor, but I guess that’s where I’m going here. The Monitor does try to bring deeper realities into our field of vision. It tries to make the metaphysical, as it touches the world, seem more tangible than the triple homicide.

“There is a task for the news here,” de Botton says, “not only to remind us daily of society’s worst failings, but also – sometimes – to train and direct its capacities for pride, resilience and hope.”

There’s an article in today’s Monitor from Christa Case Bryant that tries to put readers in a state of mind that will enable them to exert some energy for good in the world. It’s about Israel’s state-of-the-art efforts to increase the supply of fresh water in the world. Say what you will about Israel’s military policies and relations with its neighbors, its scientists and entrepreneurs are helping the world solve a massive problem. There’s truth on many levels in that fact.

Reader Comments (2)

Alright, I'll say: I think, given the state of war that has existed for decades, in the region centered on what is now known as Israel and the Palestinian territories, Israel, the sole functioning democracy there--save Turkey--has maintained the most civilized/moral (if hard-nosed) posture--certainly going back as far as Jerusalem's Palestinian Grand Mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini being a Hitler/Nazi collaborator.

June 22, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterRob

Incredible post, Keith.

June 24, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterVictor Bourdain

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