Stealth Reader

I’ll sneak to the library tomorrow, carefully concealing my cargo so that no one can easily identify it. Sidestepping nonchalantly, I’ll approach the book return slot and slide the item in. Glancing furtively to determine if anyone suspected me, I’ll escape the building, head down to avoid any eye contact.

What, you might ask, have I been reading? Actually, the question is “What have you been hearing?” The audiobook in question is American Pravda by James O’Keefe, the guy behind Project Veritas, the undercover video creators.

Frankly, working in an institution of higher education, I’d feel more comfortable carrying around a book called Confronting Your Doughnut Addiction than this one. The school’s library, not surprisingly, doesn’t have a copy of the print book. The audiobook selection is leased in a group, so the librarians didn’t choose O’Keefe’s title.

Just to spread the love, I looked at my local public library. They own four copies, system-wide, of American Pravda, all in print. By comparison, they own 66 copies of Hillary Clinton’s What Happened. Plus large print copies. Plus ebooks. Plus audio CDs. Now to be totally fair to the Mid Continent Public Library system, of those 66 copies, 14 of them are currently in use while O’Keefe’s four copies languish on the shelf.

All of this is not meant to descry the evils of the liberal academic-library complex. It is meant instead to emphasize a truth of the human mind. By and large we are the media that we consume at least as surely as we are what we eat. James O’Keefe argues that the mainstream media attempts to control what we consume to shape what we’ll believe. I tend to agree, although he, not surprisingly, oversells his position.

But as a believer, we have to question the stuff that goes into our heads each day. Look at how stridently God made the case for control of media in Deuteronomy 6:4-9:

Listen, Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them be a symbol on your forehead. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your city gates.

Capital One has used the advertising tagline, “What’s in your wallet,” for years. The question that we should ask ourselves, as people who claim to follow Christ, is “What’s in your attention box?” If the podcasts or the songs or the books or the newspapers or the movies or the websites or anything else we take in are not at least potentially God-honoring, then how can we expect the words of our mouth and the meditations of our heart to please Him?

So if I should be ashamed to take American Pravda back to the library tomorrow, it ought to be because I know that I could have been reading something more edifying and God-honoring.