It seems John Travolta’s vintage Mercedes sports car has been stolen. It happened in Santa Monica, California. Travolta parked the car on a residential street Sunday afternoon and stopped in at a nearby Jaguar dealership for about 10 minutes. When he returned, he found an empty parking spot and no sign of the car, a 1970 Mercedes-Benz 280-SL. You can read about it at ajc.com. There, you can also read about the efforts to have Troy Davis’ execution stopped, a shooting at a preschool, deals on travel packages to Canada, a 3-year-old who fired a shotgun inside a automobile, a review of the first night of Dancing with the Stars, the latest on Charlie Sheen and Ashton Kutcher, and plenty of talk about the Atlanta Braves’ recent woes.
It is staggering to think about the limitless stream of events and stories happening right now… How does any one newspaper decide what to cover and what to leave off? I think editors have a difficult job. This struggle extends out to a wide-range of media: newspapers, television, radio, and even internet sites. In one way, their task is reactionary: they print the news as it happens. In another way, they have some discretion as to what to send reporters out to cover. They have to think about sales, so winnowing down the list of topics must include some thought about public interest and preference; Columbus’ residents are not interested in local politics of Saskatchewan.
In a real sense, we all have the same challenge, though. Each of us makes decisions daily on what gets our attention. What will we listen to on the television in the morning, in the car as we drive, or at night when we sit down to unwind? What stories do we read in the paper or online? I am no different; I get my print news by browsing the headlines that come across my twitter feed, where I follow news agencies around the country and world. I tune into one specific station on the radio, too. I am making conscious choices about what I tune into, with my ears or eyes.
From a very young age, we have learned that gaining and keeping attention is power; think about a young child calling their parent’s name over and over and over again. It has been true across the ages. We grant power in our lives to those people and things to which we give our attention. Jesus said using our eyes can lead to destruction, and went so far as to suggest serious steps to prevent it from happening in Matthew 5. The Hebrew prophets proclaimed that we must give attention to the commands of God (see Jeremiah 7) and pointed to heartache and suffering when we failed.
So … pay attention! Avoid gossip. Listen to people who speak the truth. Avoid conversations on trivial matters. Tune into news that matters. Read good books and lengthy articles that expand your mind. Do all of these things that you might use the gift of your time and your mind for the glory of God, and not for the glory of something so much less.