12th March 2021

A woman talks to an interviewer in front of who-knows-how-many millions of viewers and presents ‘her truth’; pain, humour, sadness, regret and more are on display. Commentators give their opinions. Experts are brought in. In a TV studio tempers flare.

Racism, misogyny, divisions between generations and nations, polls and politics, tradition, loyalty, mental health, duty, tragedy, change and continuity – many things are in the mix.

Maybe it’s just a distraction, but it happens in a world in which, more than ever, discernment is needed. Elsewhere conspiracy theories abound. Recently a US TV evangelist admitted his predictions had been wrong. Newspapers continue to present different ‘takes’ on the same events. Politicians continue to avoid answering questions.

Courts of Law ensure that both sides of a story are heard to enable a jury to make up its mind without prejudice or ignorance. The ‘Court of Public Opinion’ is not so careful. Much depends on what anyone chooses to read, listen to or believe. Social Media are often called ‘echo chambers’ – they tell people, as the Bible puts it, ’what their itching ears want to hear’.

So to our faith. We inhabit a ‘word’ world; much depends on what is said, who is speaking and who has authority. ‘May what is spoken ring with truth, may what is heard and understood be touched by your Spirit, and may what is decided lead us all on towards your Kingdom’ – or, as it says in the New Testament, ‘Do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God’.

Michael Docker