By Bruce Green
Teaching Minister at 10th Street Church of Christ
Walter Cronkite was news anchor for CBS from the early 1960s to the early ‘80s. He walked a generation through their share of difficult times: the assassinations of President Kennedy, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and Senator Robert Kennedy. There were watershed events like the Civil Rights Movement, the moon landing, the Vietnam War, Watergate and protests and riots. Cronkite was there for all these things and more.
When he signed off his newscast each evening, he would look at the camera and say, “And that’s the way it is,” and add the day’s date. Cronkite had originally intended the phrase to be the conclusion to a brief story or anecdote he told at the end of each newscast—the kind of thing we hear from time to time that backs us off the day’s news by offering humor, perspective or just a break from the harsh realities of the newscast. The vignettes didn’t work out for Cronkite (they never had the time to do them), so he settled for just using the phrase.
What if Cronkite’s idea was implemented today by sharing something that would put the news of the day into perspective? It could be a story or better yet, some big, foundational truths that would frame the events of the day. Like when you’re told your vehicle needs a new set of tires but otherwise, it’s in great shape and you can anticipate many more years of driving it. In other words, what if we received some hope to go along with the not-so-pleasant news? There wouldn’t be anything wrong with that, would there? And it would give us some context for dealing with whatever the negative news was.
Imagine then, after you watch, heard, or read the day’s news, this followed it: “Finally, we’d like to remind you that the tomb is still empty, the throne is still occupied, and God is continuing to work out His eternal purposes through Christ, His people and in the world—and that’s the way it is.” Wouldn’t that be great? Getting a little hope with our headlines could do wonders for us.
We probably shouldn’t hold our breaths over that happening.
What we can do is teach ourselves to think this way when things go sideways and the news cycle is dominated by negative things that we need to know but we don’t need to dwell on. This is something of how the Shema (Deuteronomy 6:4-5) functioned in Israel. It provided the framework for how they looked at everything in life and was a constant reminder of the reality of God. Maybe this is also part of how the model prayer (Matthew 6:9-13) is to function with us as well. In the end, I suppose there are a number of things we could do to remind ourselves of the powerful realities that should shape our daily lives. The important thing is that we have some way of reminding ourselves of the way it is rather than the way it seems.