Essay / Culture

St. Augustine and the Mainstream Media

I admit it—I am a news junkie. The first thing I do when I get up in the morning is turn on the computer, and see what has been going on in the world since I last was awake. I often end my day pursuing the many news channels to see news and commentary on the day’s events.

My daily interaction with the main stream media has often caused me to wonder if a majority of them were trained by the famed journalist “Chicken Little.” Gas prices are going to ruin the economy/ we are too dependent on foreign oil. Thousands are marching against the Iraq war. Iran is going to gain nuclear weapons, and use them on the west. China is going to destroy our economy. The list of potential catastrophes we are facing goes on and on.

As much as I realize that most of this “sky is falling” mentality of the MSM is sensationalistic, I can find myself drawn into their doom and gloom predictions of the future. I find myself worrying about oil prices. I find myself being concerned about the economy and being able to provide for my family.

I was able to think about this during the week in light of the text I was teaching. It was Augustine’s City of God. Augustine wrote this work as a response to Alaric the Visigoth sacking of Rome in 410 AD. Many of the Christians of the day were wondering why God had allowed them to suffer such an evil. Augustine responds to one aspect of their situation in Book 1 chapter 10:

[L]et us now turn to the question of whether any evil has befallen the faithful and godly that was not turned to their good. Or are we to conclude that the utterance of the apostle was in vain when he said “We know that all things work together for good to them that love God?” They lost all they had. Their faith? Their godliness? The goods of the inward man who is rich before God? Those are the riches of the Christians, of which the great apostle spoke:

“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be content. For the love of money is the root of all evil; which while some covet after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”

Those who lost their earthly riches in the sack, therefore, if they had held those thins in the manner of which they had heard, as one poor without but rich within—that is if they had made use of the world as if not using it—would have been able to say, with one sorely tempted yet not conquered: “Naked came I came out of my mothers womb, and naked shall I return into the earth. The Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”

Augustine goes on to say that many rejoiced when their earthly treasures were not found by the pillaging Visigoths, but how much more secure were those who had treasures stored up in a place that no Visigoth could possibly find. Regardless of whether the doom and gloom predictions of the main stream media turn out to be right or not–I need to remind myself that my true treasures are well invested, and I do not need to worry about them.

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