No, this is not a post about our president, and I’m not calling anyone names. The title of this post is an acronym, and I’m preaching this sermon to myself. It’s one I’ve thought about dozens of times over the years.
…And then promptly forgot about, again:
Low. Information. Action. Ratio.
“Huh?” you say. Bear with me. I will explain.
A writer named Marva Dawn (she’s brilliant–follow the link and learn about her) gave a radio interview on our local Christian radio station, years ago now. And she shared a concept which I have never entirely forgotten.
She pointed out how much information inundates us now which has no bearing on our lives and over which we have no control. For instance, scan the headlines and see how many involve horrific:
Bad news IS news, and we hear bad news almost immediately these days. Beyond that, there are celebrity birthdays, hook-ups, engagements, marriages, babies, fights and divorces to savor. I mean really: given the choice of reading about Justin Bieber’s latest embarrassment, or a new city zoning ordinance, which will you choose?
Consequently, we know about a lot of things which we are not expected to do anything about.
Now, back to that acronym: Low Information-Action Ratio. This is Marva’s unscientific way of saying that there is very little correlation these days between what we hear or read, and what we’re expected to DO about it.
That may not seem important. But then we go to church. We hear a sermon–perhaps on tithing, or being wiser parents, or better stewards of our resources, or on repenting of sin and surrendering to God’s call. But no matter how profound the message, how emotional our initial response or how much we agree with the sentiments express, if our subconscious habit is to take in the message and immediately file it away in a remote cabinet, never to be retrieved or acted on…what use was the message?
What was the point of even going to church?
I would take it a step further: what’s the purpose in reading anything that you read? The political columnist, the major world headline, the magazine article, the best-selling biography? This blog post? If we are no longer accustomed to seeking motivation to action in the material we read or hear, then why are we wasting our time?
Can you imagine if the citizens of the thirteen colonies had read Tom Paine’s Common Sense and said, “Hmmm, some rather good points there. Yep. Well-written, too.” And then gone back to griping about the price of sugar and the scarcity of pins?
My brother, Justturnright, reads an enormous amount of political commentary every day. I”m grateful to him, because he reads it so that I don’t have to. He writes about things in such a way that I can understand them easily. But am I acting on them?
The very word ‘information’ suggests that it will in-FORM us…form us inwardly, shape our perceptions, change us. But do we allow information to have that power over us? What kind of information should have such sway? Are we being selective about what we watch, listen to, and read?
I subscribe to several devotional blogs, plus PJTV and a couple of conservative sites, plus follow various like-minded others. I’m generally reading two or three non-fiction books at any given time. But even though I’m reading (mostly) good-quality material, how much of it is “life-changing” in any significant, permanent way? Even when I think it should be?
Have I fallen victim to LIAR?
“Leave me not, O gracious Presence, in such hours as I may to-day devote to the reading of books or of newspapers. Guide my mind to choose the right books and, having chosen them, to read them in the right way. When I read for profit, grant that all I read my lead me nearer to Thyself. When I read for recreation, grant that what I read may not lead me away from Thee. Let all my reading so refresh my mind that I may the more eagerly seek after whatsoever things are pure and fair and true.”
— John Baillie, A Diary of Private Prayer (1937)