Journalism and exegesis

Bill Moyers is the telejournalist who did the much-sung PBS piece on “Amazing Grace.”  I don’t know, but I think he’s in the league with Ken Burns, of Civil War and Jazz and Baseball documentary fame.  Moyers is thoughtful, thorough, and non-incendiary.  Yesterday evening, I caught 5 minutes of his being interviewed by, of all people, Jon Stewart of the Comedy Central channel.

[The punchy Stewart, incidentally, is probing in a different way from Moyers.  If Stewart’s language weren’t so often foul, I think I’d watch him more often, because he pokes at the right only 200% more than at the left, instead of 900% more, like the more legitimate, non-comedic remainder of the news media.]

In contrast with the recent interview with Bill O’Reilly (who lost face and was off his game with Stewart, who hit the target with his jabs at Mike Huckabee’s ill-begotten jam session with Ted Nugent), Moyers almost left a respectful Stewart speechless.  Part of the reason for Moyers’s success and status appears to be that he hasn’t gone for cheap, hyped, cutting-edge news-generation.  Rather, he’s moved in and around those who want to be thoughtful, reflective, and honest with news and other subjects.

One Moyers comment struck me for reasons that will be obvious.  It went something like this:

My process has always been this:  I shoot extended interviews, and then I spend a lot of time editing to get to the gist of the message.  In forty years of journalism, I’ve never once been called by an interviewee for taking him out of context.

Wow.  Forty years.  I don’t think I often go a week without hearing scripture taken out of context.

If only all Christians (preachers, speakers, teachers, and everyone else, too) would aspire to–and attain to–such a contextually sensitive record with scripture.

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6 thoughts on “Journalism and exegesis

  1. ababblingbrook 06/03/2011 / 11:48 am

    And we should be keeping each other and our leaders more accountable for scripture than in journalism… proper context is very important in the media (as a budding journalist firmly believes) but if we can’t go to scripture without getting it wrong much of the time, how can we rely on anyone for the truth?

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    • Brian Casey 06/04/2011 / 9:10 am

      Hmmm. Now I think it’s OK with God for us to be sincerely, searchingly wrong sometimes, I’m not sure I follow. Are you assuming that a precursor to being right is being wrong a bunch of times first?

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  2. godschildrenorg 08/09/2013 / 4:34 pm

    I don’t remember if I learned it at ACC, or if Dan taught me, “Read IN Context.” Do you remember the joke about piecing scriptures together…something about, “Jezebel hung herself…go thou and do likewise!”

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    • Brian Casey 08/09/2013 / 8:14 pm

      Oh, yes, I remember that well and use it once a year or so. It’s Judas, though, isn’t it? ,-)

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