Project 12

Discovering Discipleship in the 21st Century

The Danger of American Christians as “Embedded Reporters”

Posted by Jon on October 9, 2008

Today in my Drama of Scripture class we discussed this quotation from the book:

Everyone has a basic story. How are we to relate the biblical story and the… story of western culture? In its different versions, the modern western story has been so dominant and has so strongly asserted its right to be the story that it is often assumed that we should use it for understanding the grand narrative of Scripture. But biblical Christianity claims that the Bible alone tells the true story of our world. [Italics mine]

Shelby Monroe, a reporter embedded with U. S. Troops in Iraq, learns how to fire an assault rifle.

Shelby Monroe, a reporter embedded with U. S. Troops in Iraq, learns how to fire an assault rifle.

In one of my usual digressions from the text, I asked the students if they remembered what the reporters who traveled with American troops during the invasion of Iraq were called. “Embedded,” I reminded them. And what did that term, “embedded reporters” mean? It meant that these reporters were having what they saw, what they were able to learn from others, filtered to them through the official channels of the United States military. “This meant,” I said, “that often what they reported to us was in fact the ‘official story’ of the United States government.” We viewers did not get the story of the invasion, but rather a story which had been sanitized and defined by our own government.

I contrasted this to the Viet Nam war, which I watched reported on television as a child. The reporters during that war were free to go anywhere, and to see and report on anything. I remember seeing actual firefights and wounded and dead soldiers and “unauthorized” footage which exposed American wrong-doing in Viet Nam. The result of such reporting? A rejection of that war by the so-called “silent majority.” Those reporters were not embedded, at least not in the way those in Iraq later on were.

But all that was illustrative, I suggested to the Project 12ers, of how we Christians in America are also “embedded reporters.” We hold cultural assumptions which, more often than we realize, are at direct contradiction to and variance with the Scripture’s clear teaching. It behooves us as believers to re-examine, and continue to re-examine, our assumptions and beliefs in light of the Word. American values should not determine what we see; biblical values are the lenses through which we are meant to perceive our neighbor, our enemy, our self, and Our God.

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