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the truth about truth

Truth has long been a hot topic. What is truth? The truth is out there. You can’t handle the truth. The truth shall set you free. The truth is stranger than fiction.

My favorite quote is probably one of the more controversial ones (surprise surprise) and it’s this: All truth is God’s truth. The first time I heard it was in a sermon by none other than my husband. (Also a surprise, I know.) It was interesting. What does that mean? Is that, um, true? It took me down a rabbit hole, mentally challenging everything I thought about truth and if there was anything wrong with that statement. Surely, there are truths that don’t come from God. Right?

I got to the root of my cynicism quickly. I realized that what I was really questioning was not the truth itself, but the truth teller. Can truth come from someone who is not truthful? IS that possible? Can someone who is a liar, a devious, foolish, corrupted, and otherwise unreliable person, tell a truth? And the follow up question, will we listen?

There’s always that character in end-of-the-world movies. That crazy, probably homeless and stinky person who says crazy and stinky things and no one listens. The one who holds the “end is near” signs or hands out fliers about doomsday. We don’t believe that person because they’re crazy. Or there’s the kid who knows more than all the adults. We don’t listen to that kid because he’s a kid. But does that make what he said any less true?

Is truth truth because of the source, or in spite of it?

It makes me think of the Old Testament prophets. By all accounts they were a crazy bunch. They did weird things. They dressed funny. Even for biblical standards. Let’s be clear on something, though, because this is my main point. They were not more spiritual or perfect and therefore God gave them truth. They were chosen for a message and some were changed by it, some were not. You can’t honestly read the book of Jonah and come away thinking what a great man. You can come away thinking what a gracious God.

The problem with our modern day truth seeking is that we don’t want truth to be a fixed thing. We’re way too flexible for that. We want it to be fluid and “growing.” And most of all we want it to fit in with what we already believe or what we want to believe. We have those “yes, that’s true BUT… ” statements, the ones that either rip holes in the statement or the person saying it. We discount anyone who doesn’t fit into our molds. On all sides we do this. Right wing evangelicals would never concede to a liberal socialist thinker, no matter how true the statement may be. It won’t matter. We just don’t listen. We don’t listen for context nor content. We don’t listen to people’s hearts. We don’t listen for more than what we disagree with. We are a lost generation when it comes to real dialogue and conversation for meaning, no to mention goals to achieve together. We have lost the art of learning through discussion, partly because no one is really talking any more. No one is really getting to the heart of the matters at hand.

Who are the ones who will speak truth? And more importantly who are the ones who are listening for truth in all its forms and carefully, caringly leading the speakers to productive dialogue, engaging the truths they already know and forming those truths into the ones they haven’t known yet?

Jack Nicholson was right, in the end. You can’t handle the truth. No one can. The truth is powerful and blinding. It is dark and hard and frightening. And then it is warm and light and encouraging. Once you’ve seen it, tasted it, felt it, you can’t escape it no matter how hard you try. It will inform every single other thing in your entire existence.All the little truths along the way are leading us in that direction. All the truths that we follow down a rabbit hole will bring us to The Truth, which will also bring us to The Life and The Way. The question is this: do you really want to know?




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