Whether or not it was the 20th Century Theologian Karl Barth who said 'a Christian should have a bible in one hand and a newspaper in the other' is debatable - but the quote has resonance and power regardless of who actually conceived it. We must look around us, be aware of the realities of the world, and be prepared to weigh up those realities in the light of the spiritual and political wisdom that we possess in our scriptures.
The problem is that our newspapers, and our media in general, rarely present us with 'reality'. John Pilger's new documentary 'The War You Don't See' was aired this week, and it was a bitter reminder that the 'truth' offered to us in the printed or electronic media can be as far from reality as governments need it to be. From 'the Guardian' to the BBC, from 'the Sun' to Fox News, spin and lies are regularly fed to the Western Populaces and the news reporters are complicit in the game, failing to live up to even a pretence of journalistic integrity. One after another, famous reporters and news presenters admitted that if they had done their jobs properly, we would not have gone to war in Iraq.
I have long held the news media with a suspicious, contemptable gaze. Solace has been found in my daily edition of the Morning Star newspaper. I find it almost miraculous that it still exists, a daily paper for socialism and peace. It manages to survive despite the fact that so many retailers often refuse to stock it (try ordering a copy at your local newsagents) and despite the fact that it has stayed true to it's values in an age where the daily papers have mostly sold out to consumerism or popularism.
It is quite simply remarkable. Almost nothing in wikileaks is news to those of us who read the Morning Star. The insightful reports from Pilger, Hughs, and, one of the only decent MPs left, Jeremy Corbyn, help my analysis, and the world news section throws a light on the parts of the planet where Capitalism is not seen as the only answer (especially the lessons being learnt from Latin America)
The Morning Star is green, has no corporate advertising, and reports from the front line of the struggle against cuts, the peace movement and the bits of the radical Christian world so often ignored by the media (who else reported Ekklesia's Symon Hill's 'pilgrimage of repentance against the homophobic church'?)
Of course it has its biases, but that is why it is as important to Christians as reading the Bible. In common with Jesus, it proclaims good news to the poor. I think during the current cuts crisis, it will become essential reading for those trying to get a better picture of the horrors being thrust upon us by a political elite so distant to the realities on the ground. Order two copies today, and give one to someone you love!