From Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman
In America, everyone is entitled to an opinion, and it is certainly useful to have a few when a pollster shows up. But these are opinions of a quite different roder from eighteenth- or nineteenth-century opinions. It is probably more accurate to call them emotions rather than opinions, which would account for the fact that they change from week to week, as the pollsters tell us.
What is happening here is that television is altering the meaning of ‘being informed’ by creating a species of information that might properly be called disinformation. I am using this world almost in the precise sense in which it is used by spies in the CIA or KGB.
Disinformation does not mean false information. It means misleading information–misplace, irrelevant, fragmented or superficial information–information that creates the illusion of knowing something but which in fact leads one away from knowing. In saying this, I do not mean to imply that television news deliberately aims to deprive Americans of a coherent, contextual understanding of their world.
I mean to say that when news is packaged as entertainment, that is the inevitable result. And in saying that the television news show entertains but does not inform, I am saying something far more serious than that we are being deprived of authentic information. I am saying we are losing our sense of what it means to be well informed. Ignorance is always correctable. But what shall we do if we take ignorance to be knowledge?
I wonder how Hananiah came to believe his own false prophesy and so much so that he expressed it publicly not only to Jeremiah but also “to the priests and all the people”? Oswald Chambers says this happens when we try to know God by figuring Him out intellectually and not by knowing Him through a personal relationship with Him.
When we try to figure God out with our logical minds, we think God is going to act according to how He has acted in the past. Hananiah is being fooled by his own moods and what he thinks about God according to his own thoughts about how God should be fair and just. He wants to be a religious hero! But he should have never tried to explain God’s ways until he had known Him personally — then he would have had the discernment that maybe whole areas of his thinking could be wrong concerning God’s ways with Israel at this particular time.
We can mess up when we try to act like we are some kind of authority on how God is going to act in a certain situation because we have figured out something about the past history of God’s actions. Like Hananiah, we want to be recognized as having some kind of godly insight. The religious teachers in Jesus’ day were like that, and Jesus roundly condemned them because they had not taken the time to really know God personally. If they did know God personally, they would know that there is only one Hero: the Lord Jesus Christ. And we don’t really know anything about God until we are led into the wilderness to be alone with Him.
John 7:17 relates to this when Jesus says, “If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority.”