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Joel BelzVoices Joel Belz

Mind shapers

Elections matter, but not as much as the media and the schools

Mind shapers

(Krieg Barrie)

It may have been only 20 weeks since Election Day, but we’re already hard at it again. So may I remind you, as I have before in this space, of a lesson that seems hard for us to learn: Government isn’t the problem.

You’d never know it from the way we allocate our time, our energy, and our dollars. “I can’t remember,” I’ve already heard a variety of folks say with all sincerity, “when there has ever been a more important election.” They’re talking, believe it or not, about 2020.

But in fact, our government—big and influential as it may be—is not so much a shaper of its people as it is shaped by those people. Two other players in the culture of American society do much more to influence our citizens’ thinking. They are the mainstream media and the massive educational establishments.

I mean “media” in the big sense—including both information and entertainment. There’s almost no such thing as a straight news program on TV anymore; if TV news isn’t also vividly entertaining, it doesn’t last. The same influences affect the print media as well—probably including WORLD. We print people are also scrambling to compete for your attention. Information, by itself, just doesn’t cut it anymore.

Structurally, the deck is stacked. In any election cycle, the mind-shapers are all wearing pretty much the same uniform.

And I mean “education” in the big sense. Certainly that includes government education on the preschool, elementary, secondary, university, and graduate levels—a 22-year monopoly, from age 3 to 25, on the thinking of at least 75 percent of all citizens. But even when private education steps in with a substitute, it is typically private education of the sort offered by the nation’s Stanfords, Dukes, and Notre Dames—an ideological substitute that really isn’t any different. And sadly, even much of what goes by the name of Christian education is little more than warmed-over secularism.

So structurally, the deck is stacked. Coming into any election cycle, the mind-shapers are all wearing pretty much the same uniform.

We should hardly be surprised then when we also find a monolithic ideological worldview stamped all over the system’s products. As numerous and diverse as all those media and educational forces may seem, on almost all the basic issues of life, they speak with a common point of view. For example, in our nation’s media and educational establishment:

•Naturalism almost always trumps supernaturalism. Darwinism’s dominance over the last century hasn’t ultimately had to do only with science. Darwinism’s true impact has been on everything else. For if God isn’t the Creator of all that exists—if He isn’t the first mover—then He really doesn’t matter much. Now He can be marginalized. That is the implicit assumption of the media and the educational establishment throughout our society.

•The “out-of-adjustment” explanation always trumps the “sin” explanation. No behaviors anymore (with the exceptions, of course, of intolerance and hate crimes) are always and positively wrong. When something does seem out of kilter with society’s norms, it’s probably traceable to a bad childhood or some other kind of maladjustment. But even then, the problem is seen as minor. For if we saw our problems to be major, then we would need major outside help. And just as we resist the idea of an outside first mover, our pride forces us to resist the idea of an outside helper.

•Pluralism always trumps truth. If you can fudge the truth about origins and pull off a huge cover-up on the nature of what’s gone wrong since then, probably it won’t matter much if you start questioning the essence of truth itself. So it’s part and parcel of today’s media and educational scene to argue strenuously that no one has a corner on the truth. For Jesus to claim, “I am the way, the truth, and the life,” is too arrogant and exclusivist for today’s mindset.

Indeed, so pervasive has such thinking been within the media and educational establishments that you might consider it a miracle that anyone takes even minor exception to such non-Christian assertions.

Soon, we’ll be exploring whether a few new faces in Washington and several state capitals might make a difference. It’s a good exercise. But the people who want to monopolize your mind are pretty much everywhere.


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  •  Brendan Bossard's picture
    Brendan Bossard
    Posted: Mon, 03/18/2019 02:01 pm

    It is easier to point the finger than to look in the mirror.  I am a parent.  I am responsible for teaching my child in the way he should go.  I am responsible for doing the very best that I can to work with whatever tools God grants me to use to accomplish that goal.  Blaming Big Education or Big Media--both of which are merely extensions of Big Government, all of which are granted to me by God--for my failure is not an option.

  • Janet B
    Posted: Tue, 03/19/2019 04:00 pm

    Thank you, Mr. Belz, for these words of truth.

    On a positive note, there is Hillsdale College, a small college that, since 1844 has admitted people regardless of race, creed or biological sex, and given a liberal arts education, without accepting any government money (and thus, their forced influence).  They have a private classical K-12 Academy, and they have the Barney Initiative, designed to help people to start and operate classical schools in their area.  It is a David against a Goliath, but we know how that story ended, don't we?

  • Woodman
    Posted: Mon, 04/15/2019 01:19 pm

    This is spot on thanks Joel. As parents we’re responsible for bringing our kids up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. When they head off into the world the controlling spirits of satan supported by godless university professors and fake news media take their minds captive. Personally I’d throw in feel good Biblically flaccid institutional churches too. We need to pray for God to raise up leaders to take back these strongholds.