Tag Archives: truth

The Danger of “My Truth: Our Current Crisis of Genuine Knowledge

There are two words we need to stop using so glibly: “My truth.” While we are free to express our opinions and need to allow others the same, these two words reveal a serious crisis of knowledge in our reactive, subjective social media world. History, philosophy, and science used to be fields of proximate objective inquiry, testing hypothesis, expanding knowledge, and evaluating arguments. And in many places, these and other disciplines admirably contribute to our knowledge.

Sadly, the shriller voices are self-absorbed subjectivists, arguing that being “good” or “moral” is more important than “facts.” What matters are the “narratives” we create or affirm, not the complexities of the data. This is not a Left or Right issue. This subjective and often irrational perspective subverts the public good and the ability of diverse folks to discover the truth of any matter and bring wisdom to real challenges.

We can transform neighborhoods, but not by the D.C. Leviathan parachuting personnel and resources with no understanding of the locale.

We can improve our schools, if we will listen to the facts of 30 years of research and liberate students and teachers from ineffective systems.

We can improve health care, foster new energy sources, open avenues of economic access…if we will learn from the mistakes and successes of the last half century instead of repeating tired mantras.

A young student who claimed to be an, “anarcho-syndicalist” and devotee of Marx, when confronted with the record of history, could find no evidence of his ideas ever working in a sustained and humane way. His refusal to modify his thinking was evident when he declared that the facts are unimportant, and devotion to the ideal is all that matters. The same mindset pervades awful fascist and racist groups on the extreme Right. White supremacy has no place in a pluralistic republic.

Renewing “the pursuit of truth in the company of friends” (my Cowell College UCSC motto – go Slugs!) will require humility, openness, love for neighbor, and constant refinement of thinking. Our dear friend, the late Miriam Self, once said about this, “Sounds too much like work,” Her humor helps us see the point well. As we decide to pursue the truth of any matter, we will still often diverge on both the data and the policies, but if we stay inquisitive, we may find hidden gems of wisdom and principled ways of fostering human flourishing hitherto buried under the noise.

In closing, I want to thank my late dad for making learning an adventure, my many older spiritual mentors modeling humility and inquiry in their eighth and ninth decades, and all of you that love thoughtfulness…thank you!

And above, underneath, and all around is our loving Lord, the Logos, in whom are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

A Prayer of Consecration

As we lament and repent, we are also called to a new hope, a new obedience rooted in love and the fear of the Lord. Here is a prayer for us to align ourselves with God’s reign. In the coming weeks I will be offering serious critiques of issues and policies from the new administration, as well as insights on geopolitical hot spots around the world. All of this must be rooted in prayer.

Holy and Loving Lord,

We offer these words of consecration with humility, trusting only in your mercy. We plead that you will empower us to put off all that enslaves and ensnares us, and put on a new heart, mind, and will that honor you and serve others well. Help us, O God:

  • To put off all idolatry. Forgive us for crafting a deity to our own liking, either reducing you to a feeling or capitulating to fatalism. We put on awe and reverence and submit to you on your terms. We put off using our perceptions of your guidance as an excuse for manipulation of power. We put boldness and courage that aims to serve. We put off the idols of ideology, cherry-picking Bible verses to suit our opinions and refusing to listen to the voices of others who also cry out to you. We put on engagement in the public square with prophetic distance, allowing us to confirm and critique from a pure heart. We put off the idolatry of self-fulfillment, choosing to follow in the pathway of Jesus, who, secure in his identity, became a servant, our sacrifice for sin, and now as the Risen Lord, a preview of our future.
  • To put off all immorality. Forgive us for excusing the sins of those we like and magnifying the mistakes of those we hate. Forgive us for replacing intimacy with you with unholy substitutes objectifying others and escaping from reality. We put on agape love, seeing everyone we meet as sister or brother made in your image. We put on delight in prayer, learning to listen to you as well as pour out our hearts. We put off the immorality of greed and lust for power and put on the virtues of diligence, generosity, and stewardship of your gifts and opportunities.
  • To put off all injustice. Forgive us for blindness to systems that keep too many from access, equity, and opportunity. Help us put on advocacy and actions so all can flourish. Forgive us for ceremonial gestures without substance and hospitality that is hollow, expecting others to conform to our expectations. We put on listening ears, and an open table where you are present. We put off avoiding uncomfortable contemporary and historical issues and our tendencies to choose narratives that conform to our preferences. We put on a fearless pursuit of the truth, knowing you are at work in and through all circumstances.

Gracious Lord, empower our repentance and resolve. Keep our hearts tender and our minds discerning.  We put off our self-deception that displaces your eternal principles with our human preferences. We put off naïve nationalism and visceral hatred of our country and put on humility for our deep flaws and hopefulness that our highest values may be realized. Have mercy on our land, and every land. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Light and Shadow: Grace and Truth About Our Lives

The Story of Christmas is Eternal Light shining in the darkness and Eternal Love that united God and humankind forever in Jesus of Nazareth (Gospel of John, chapter 1, verses 1-18). Johns beautiful hymn reveals a world of light and shadow, of divine grace and demonic deception, of receiving and rejecting love.

For this reflection, let us consider the shadow side of every good intention and the wisdom we need as the navigate the rapids of daily life.

Religious faith if often a positive force, offering meaning, fostering humility, and transforming character. As a Christian, I affirm that in Jesus of Nazareth, we have the final and sufficient disclosure of grace and truth to the world. But there can be a shadow side of intolerance, institutional oppression, and disrespectful interaction. For all Christians – and any adherents to a religious tradition – we must see all our neighbors as divine image-bearers and engage peaceably, work together harmoniously when possible, and love sincerely, even as we pray for their conversion.

Patriotism can help unite diverse groups under a banner of idealism. It’s shadow side in history includes nativism, racism, and failure to respect other cultures and systems. White supremacy is a subtle stronghold. The answer is to love the ideals while building bridges of friendship and trust.

Agitation for racial justice is noble and still needed as we try to realize the dream of our founders and MLK. The shadow side is hatred for historical oppressors that leads to a new racism, such as the Nation of Islam. The answer is grace and truth, love in action, as we confront systemic evils and build personal connections.

Liberty for and true toleration persons that identify as non-binary and part of the LGBTQ+ networks are important if we believe all people are created equal. The shadow side here is the radical agenda that calls for the destruction of the biological family and sexual anarchy. Toleration is living with our differences, not demanding that all agree with the choices and ideologies chosen by others.

Recognizing the unjust history of Western colonialism is vital for humility and forging a better future. The shadow side of legitimate critiques is a failure to see the oppressive histories of others’ cultures and bright facets of the global influences of a culture infused with some Judeo-Christian values. Critiquing the West’s imperialism toward Muslim lands during the 19th-early 20th century period is important. The shadow side is that we forget the 1000 years of Islamic expansion and destruction and the jihadism that refuses to grant equality to outsiders. Ignoring this and only feeling guilty will place more nations under the intolerant rule of Sharia.

Finally, we must affirm the goodness of liberty and the potential of each person to bring good to the world. The shadow side is excessive focus on self, with “my dreams” and “my gifts” being separated from good to others.

May we welcome the Light of Christ into every shadow in our souls and our systems, our hearts and our habits, our highest ideals and deepest dreams.

Truth to Power

“Speaking truth to power.”
A favorite phrase of all protesters.
Dear agitators of all ideologies:
Anger and clichés will not promote a flourishing society.
We need to give up two fantasies: a neo-1950s Americanism (the “good old days”) and socialist utopias (“Marx just hasn’t been applied properly”)

If we aspire for a just society, consider the following…
Truth: Our cities are overwhelmed with infrastructure, pension and welfare obligations and anti-enterprise policies.
Power: decades of political corruption must be overcome.

Truth: Racism still permeates much of our society.
Power: We must face both individual iniquity and institutional injustice. The former must be confronted within particular communities; the latter is the work of the privileged.

Truth: Religious women and men of all faiths that believe in heterosexual monogamy and celibacy for singles are not homophobes, bigots or haters, just trying to live their deepest convictions.
Power: all alternative advocates need to examine their own intolerance.

Truth: We can do better on healthcare, ensuring compassionate and effective services.
Power: Ethics/Standards need to be universal; administration must be local.

Truth: Environmental stewardship and scientific innovation ensure resources for improving economies.
Power: Neither UN symbols or massive deregulation lead us forward – only wise private-public cooperation based on honest data and hope, not propaganda and fear will offer a future.

Truth: Immigration reform is stymied by business and political powers that want cheap labor and subversion of citizenship boundaries.
Power: Hospitable and just policies within Constitutional boundaries can be forged with courage and love.

Dear millions of friends of conscience:
Let’s not only speak, but act. Protesting is easy. Actual change is hard.
One new friendship across the divides, one new act of compassion, one new business providing local jobs, one new church reaching out…let’s begin.

Healing Our Deep Divisions

Our deep divisions come from an impoverished anthropology.

We must reaffirm that all persons we encounter are made in God’s image with vocations of worship and work, play and rest, mutual self-donation and personal flourishing.

Our new anthropology must embrace created dignity, sin-infected depravity, gracious new creation in Christ and the restoration of all creation, as we enjoy God’s eternal reign.

Class and culture, gender and race are transformed with this new vision.

Transforming our society begins with love and truth.

Love: I desire and act for the good of others.

Truth: I assume responsibility for my decisions while recognizing larger influences I may not always control.

As we pray and work for justice, Pastor Chris Brooks’ words resound:
”We must confront individual iniquity and institutional injustice.”
”Poverty is not permanent.”

Poverty, racism, sexism, classism: all can be overcome with unselfish actions rooted in love and truth.

A free society is a virtuous society.

A virtuous society is built on timeless truth.

And it all begins and ends with self-donating love.

And that love is Triune.