We see them every day.
They are the hallmark of 24/7 cable news. They fill up the air waves on “talk radio” and the numerous “news/information shows”.
Typically they appear on split screens. People shown from the waist or shoulders up – hence the term “talking heads”. They are present for the sole purpose of providing a perspective – to give a particular point of view.
They are appearing for one of two reasons:
- either to support the view or story line of the host of the show or,
- to provide a contrasting opinion and provide the opportunity for debate. They are on to enhance ratings.
I spend a lot of time in my car. And as I travel I will often listen to the many “talking heads” via satellite radio which includes TV broadcasts. However, it is getting to be too much.
News and information has increasingly become less about news and more and more about:
- creating a narrative which sounds good or feeds a certain perspective.
Everyone has one. Everyone looks at the world and can tell you what is right, what is wrong, what needs to change, what should remain, how to solve situations….and so on.
It used to be you would walk into a coffee shop and there you would find people engaged in offering their opinion over how to solve the present situations. There would be people engaged in debate over the issues of the day. It may still be the case, but the venue has shifted to the airwaves or the host of social media outlets.
Now, there is nothing wrong with having opinions. In fact it is much better to have one than not pay any attention to what is going on around us. However, in listening to the many “talking heads” this week I felt compelled to write about them.
The difficulty of opinion is that in an age where every opinion is valued and has equal weight it becomes impossible to discern which opinion matters most. “Experts” are no longer people with knowledge or insight, they are people who know how to communicate louder or more eloquently than someone else. Actual knowledge or wisdom is irrelevant. Which leaves us with the challenge of trying to discern what is real or fake, truth or a lie, which biases are present, and so on – in the midst of all the noise.
Discernment has become the key.
But it is hard.
It was predicted long ago that we would face this challenge. As the Apostle Paul wrote to a young preacher named Timothy he identified a time yet to arrive where people would look for those who would reinforce their own perspectives instead of truth.
In 2 Timothy 4:3–4 (NLT) we read,
3 For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will reject the truth and chase after myths.
It seems like we are there.
But it also makes me wonder if in our confusion over who to believe, in gathering around ourselves those who provide a message we want to hear, if we are also struggling with hearing another voice?
Which voice has greater weight?
- Is it the voice we like to hear the most – because they say what we think?
- It is the voice with authority even if we don’t always like their message?
I am wondering where God’s voice falls?
Has He become another “talking head” who says things which get thrown into the mix of many voices? If so can we then dismiss it when we don’t like the message or it doesn’t line up with our preconceived understanding of what should occur? Does His voice become one of the many to listen to?
Where does His voice stand?
Hearing the many “talking heads” has made me stop and shift course.
Instead of looking for those who say what I want to hear, I am paying more attention to the context. I am making a concerted effort to recognize what is merely opinion (most of it by the way) and what is fact. I am also making a point to recognize that God is not just another talking head.
What God says, through the scriptures, is more than simply opinion. It is truth. It is what matters.
Jesus often said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
Give me ears to hear. Help me listen for more than “talking heads”. Let me hear the voice of the One who always speaks truth.