catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 13, Num 7 :: 2014.04.04 — 2014.04.17


A false sense of security

I was eight years old.  The headline for the four-inch long article on the right side of the front page read “Missionaries murdered in Ecuador.” I knew just a little bit about missionaries. Up to that point the newspaper was good for the comics, especially the ongoing tales of the tiny people. I am not sure why that headline caught my eye, but for the first time I realized that The Daily Review carried news that might interest regular people like me, and I started reading every page. 

Within a few years I would read my own work in that paper, as the reporter for a 4H club and then as a teenager when my name would show up in articles about high school news.  I was 16 when the next big headlines forever imprinted themselves on my mind — straight across the top of the paper in thick, black letters: “President Kennedy assassinated,” and in much smaller letters near the bottom of the page, “Writer C.S. Lewis Dies.” 

Paralleling my growing affinity for the printed news came the national and local news brought into our home on a black and white TV, before I went to school and just after supper.  Once the paper was read and the TV news devoured, I felt safe — most days!

You see, I grew up in the Cold War era, and we learned to hide under our desks when we heard the siren go off.  I am not sure I ever felt really safe after those days, until I heard and read the news.

In my adult life, the electronic media brought into my home vivid images of another Kennedy being shot, of Martin Luther King’s murder, of the riots on the other side of the university campus we were attending, of the Viet Nam War conflict and announcements of the deaths of people I went to high school with in that war. Then came the natural disasters: earthquakes, floods, tsunamis and blizzards.  Somehow being able to read about them, to see where they were, I generally felt in just a bit of control of my life. It was the unknown I feared, not the known.

Then we served as missionaries in Chad, Africa.  Not only did we not have access to newspapers and electronic media, we had no electricity at all.  Month-old magazines would occasionally make their way to our house at the end of several dirt roads, but we generally depended on three-week-old letters for most of our world or stateside news…and I had to put my money where my mouth was, so to speak.

I had been a practicing believer all of those years, but I depended on my access to news for much of my security.  In Africa, not only was there no dependable source of current news, a lot was going on: war, civil war in fact, anywhere from 200 to 20 miles away from our home. I had to learn to pay more attention to a Book filled with old news — from 2,000 to 6,000-year-old news, and that had to be enough. That Book reminded me that those who filtered the news, those who presented or wrote the news, had nothing to do with creating the news, and absolutely nothing to do with my security.

I learned, or relearned, to cast all my care on Him who cared for me.  I still read the paper through.  I still turn the news on before I take my shower, but if I miss it, I know the world will not fall apart. I know that old news is much safer and carries much more influence over what is going to happen to me today. 

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