Tag Archives: essay

Intrepid Reporter

An Obituary

(a two minute read)

2020 Journalism: It’s not what I was taught at university. My old craft is dead; I pray for its resurrection. This is no longer a reporting of facts. Rather its regurgitating a narrative already written in the editorial meeting.

1970s: ‘All The News That’s Fit to Print’
1980s: ‘Dirty Laundry’
1990s: ‘The News is What We Say It Is’
2000s: ‘We Report, You Decide’
2010s: ‘When News Breaks, We Fix It’
2020s: ‘All The News That Fits Our Narrative’

2020 Journalism: Writers use a paint roller instead of a scalpel. They cover over the truth with a uniform ideological coating instead of revealing it bit by bit for logical consumption.

2020 Journalism: Writers use a shotgun and make excessive noise while shredding facts to create holes to peer through at whatever truth just died behind the target.

2020 Journalism: A walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is put on endless loop in an echo chamber. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing and confusing everything. (apologies to W. Shakespeare)

2020 Journalism: Andy Warhol’s Fifteen Minutes of Fame writ large by people hired for being blessed with great hair and teeth.

2020 Journalism: In name only.

So – Where is the hope?

Any hope we have lies in the truth. Not ‘my truth’ or ‘your truth’ or ‘truth that is “okay for you.”’

Turn off the internet, the TV; put down the newspaper, the magazine. Stop listening to and sharing rumor and gossip. Do all this and sit in the silence. Then ask God to bring you the truth. He will.

So where is the wise philosopher who understands? Where is the expert scholar who comprehends? And where is the skilled debater of our time who could win a debate with God? Hasn’t God demonstrated that the wisdom of this world system is utter foolishness?

For in his wisdom, God designed that all the world’s wisdom would be insufficient to lead people to the discovery of Himself. He took great delight in baffling the wisdom of the world by using the simplicity of preaching the story of the cross in order to save those who believe it.
– 1 Corinthians 1:20-21 (TPT)

Performance Failure

(a three-minute read)

This post is a last-ditch effort by someone who sometimes makes the mistake of over-promising and under-delivering. It’s the online equivalent of push-starting a car after it has been left for dead, way too far from a safe parking spot.

I will admit to feeling unprepared, which can be bad for the stomach as well as the reputation.

Have you ever had projects like this? Where you were fighting a deadline, but inspiration wasn’t anywhere near the ring – not even waving a white towel?

I’m no stranger to writing deadlines. They were a constant presence for more than 20 years. In fact, they often spurred me on to great heights.

Too bad I’m afraid of heights.

My current crisis comes from the endless artificial need to provide you, Dear Reader, with what in the industry is called ‘fresh content.’ No problem. I have some experience pulling this together ‘on automatic’ you might say. But gosh, I’ve been busy. A day went by. Then two days and three, and suddenly I am up against it. But, gosh, I’ve been busy.

(At least give me credit for thinking of you as ‘Dear Reader’ instead of ‘just another set of eyeballs.’ After all, respectful relationships are important.)

The ticking of the deadline clock grows louder, like Poe’s Telltale Heart. Finally, there are only two choices, both poor. Either I tap dance through the bald faced lie when I ‘call in sick,’ or I shuffle you off to re-run land with something that’s been posted before.

How do you like my footwork so far?

I admitted earlier to feeling unprepared. I lied a bit. Unprepared is not entirely true, because I DO have a post, it IS entertaining, and it is now HALF DONE.

Failing to meet my own expectations, and the even more painful experience of failing to meet yours, are not new. But as always, the finger of blame can only point at the pointer.

So what do I do about that?

They say if you fall off a horse or a bike, you need to get right back on and keep riding, or you will lose your self-confidence.

Do you know what this is like? I am the actor who forgets his lines. Or the salesman who calls all day with no order sheets to show for it. Or the athlete who is in a horrible slump. Or the farmer who sees an entire crop wiped out by bad weather.

Or the writer who can’t make the words appear on command.

We must steel ourselves to start over and try again after we fail. Sometimes we come through in the clutch. More often, we manage something adequate, like this, just enough to keep going and show up, instead of being shown up.

Before I finish, because you are my Dear Reader and not an anonymous set of eyeballs being tabulated by an automatic counter, here’s a secret. This post was not actually made up from whole cloth. There is nothing new under the sun.

Because of all those years as a deadline writer, a hoarder of words, a pack rat of paragraphs, a collector of cogitations, I was actually able to resurrect some ideas from the last century and ask them to help me limp across the finish line.

I may not have made the grade, but at least I have made a grade. Now that I am finished, and have admitted my performance failure, I can move onto the next thing.

Logging off.

The Dandelion

[A 3-minute read]

At the end of its blossom cycle, the dandelion waits for the breeze. It has come again to the pinnacle of its existence. Life-giving nutrients have poured in from the earth, navigating the tubercles, the hair roots, the secondary roots, through the tap root anchoring the plant firmly in the soil.

Day after day, the plant has turned its happy yellow face to the sun, combining water and minerals from below with carbon dioxide and sunlight from above: creating energy. By osmosis through its veins, nutrients get to each cell. I am like the dandelion. My water and nutrients come through my system and into the blood, also moving through veins, deposited in each cell of my body.

The dandelion is all potential and no pretense. When it is ready, it goes. There is no hesitation. The dandelion is faith in action. It is what I would be if I had no doubts. Although I too have potential, I’m often held back by pretense.

Each of the dandelion’s 2,000 seeds has the potential to produce anther plant. There is no pretense in this either; it knows what it is about. It is following God’s command to ‘reproduce after its kind’ The dandelion is certain of its identity, and unconcerned about its future.

A seed may land just a hairsbreadth from its parent, or on a calm sunny day ride a thermal for half a mile. But it matters not to the seed. When it goes, it is ready to go, and it flies without fear. It is ready to go be a dandelion.

The future of the seed is held in the nature of its landing place. If there is good soil with good growing conditions, it prospers. If not so good, it may still prosper, if it is hardy enough. But, if it lands in stones, or water, or on pavement, or becomes some creature’s meal, it will not sprout at all. The seed’s potential to be a dandelion will be lost.

I see myself in this too, spiritual being than I am. Because I have imagination, I unwisely concern myself with my landing pad. My brain insists on knowing about the landing pad before the launch.

However, faith does not work that way. Faith is leap first, look later.

As it is, God has yet to let me down when I leap. In spite of His faithfulness it always seems that, as I ripen into seed, I question whether what He’s prepared will be good, or at least good enough. And – is it safe to go?

In those moments, it is important to remember my advantage over the dandelion. God plants the seed, but I can do my part to help Him prepare the soil. By staying close to Him, by fixing my heart on Him, I remain able to follow His command to be fruitful and multiply.

Yet the dandelion has an advantage over me. It is not a thinking being with doubts and fears and anxieties. It never questions whether God will disappoint. It never ate of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil like I did. It knows no shame.

The dandelion boldly pushes ahead. It always has more than enough seeds to fulfill what God asks of it. You know what? So do I. The secret is choosing to let Him work and only help when He asks me to.

Not all my seeds may find the best landing place. But I can improve their odds, and that is the best advantage of all.

 

If you liked this essay, you might also like this poem.

(Photo used under CC licence from PiccoloNamek at Wikimedia Commons)