A Post-Truth World?

Seriously? What would make us think such a thing was even possible? Who would choose a name like that, a name that implies that truth no longer exists? Of course it means that in our world today many people believe that opinion matters more than truth. I reject that notion! I reject the idea that truth can ever not matter, or matter less than opinion. What we have is narcissism run amok, including in the office of the President. What we have is propaganda passing as news, bald faced lies being presented as alternative facts, and attempts to confuse and distort in an attempt to do whatever we want to do without being held responsible for it.

If this is a post truth world, then I think those who assert that notion must be willing to put the law of gravity to the test. When I was a teenager, every now and then someone would drop acid and decide they could fly. Some of them climbed up onto the roof of their parents’ home and “flew” off. The results were predictable and swift. The next week the family would have a ramp built to the front door so that when young Orville Wright was discharged from the hospital his wheel chair could get into the house. Believing you can fly doesn’t make it so, R. Kelly.

Have you noticed how often millennials begin a sentence with “I feel…” and then go on with content we would have introduced with “I think,” “I know,” or “I believe”? Linguistically, for them, feeling is fact. Except feeling isn’t fact, it is feeling and can be influenced by any number of dubious factors. In fact, feeling doesn’t require fact at all, it’s completely subjective. After the big football game, the fans of the winning team feel happy. The fans of the losing team feel sad. Those who are fans of neither most likely don’t feel much about it at all. The fact is that one team beat another. There are not three underlying facts.

The notion of a post truth world cannot be allowed to continue unchallenged. We must have the courage, when we encounter someone who believes their opinion is equivalent to or more important that verified fact, to challenge that idea for the nonsense it is. We might assure our feeling friends that their feelings are valid and we would be happy to discuss them – while reminding them that they are not, in fact, facts. There is much reeducation to be done, and we need to start right away. We don’t want to build any more ramps.

Jesus Said We Should Eat our Wheaties

He did. In the Bible. Wheaties were a big part of his spiritual program. It’s right there in the Bible. He was also big on isometric exercise. He said so in John’s gospel.

lincolninternetThe most frightening part of those statements is that some people will believe them. I am quite honestly surprised no advertising agency has tried to work out a way to claim that Jesus endorsed products. Oh sure, some people would raise a fuss but a lot of other people would swallow that stuff hook, line, and sinker. They would be arguing with their friends that Wheaties are the most godly cereal even invented and that eating Frosted Flakes is satanic. It is as if life was a card game and much of the world runs around trying to collect trump cards (you should pardon the expression) they can whip out at any moment to win arguments or end debates. The result is that far too many people are invested in nonsense.

gotochurchjesusI just finished a book by Ronald Rolheiser that claimed Jesus taught that four things were non-negotiable, and the fourth one was “go to church.” There are several problems with this statement. The first is that Christianity only arose after Jesus was killed. That means there weren’t any churches until long after Jesus was gone, The second is that Jesus never even said “go to the synagogue,” because synagogues were a development that arose after the destruction of the Temple some forty years after Jesus’ death. The third and biggest problem is that Rolheiser is a Roman shadysalespitchCatholic priest and presumably knows what he wrote isn’t true. His assertion is equivalent to saying that Jesus wants you to eat you Wheaties.

I think I can speak for everyone who has walked away from institutional religion when I say we are tired of the lies, we are tired of shady sales pitches that are easily debunked. We expect truth from spiritual teachers and leaders, not self-serving propaganda. We want to hear truth that will help us, not the kind of lies that we get told at the bar when someone is trying to get in our pants – or the pants of our children, in the case of Roman priests. We seek to be educated, not seduced; informed, not coerced. So spare us the nonsense and tell it like it is or else save your breath. We aren’t buying any longer.

Truth

pinocchio-970x545Truth is not a matter of opinion. Truth is fact, and it remains the same even if someone pays you to lie and pretend that your lie is the truth. Lobbyists are liars. Spokespeople who try to spin reality to make the companies or causes they work for look better are liars. Being a liar comes at a cost. Lying isn’t going to make you go to hell or any other such nonsense. The cost is that a liar is personally diminished each time they lie. Their character suffers and their souls – in the Jungian sense of the word soul – are diminished. When we lie we become less. We may deceive ourselves and think that others can’t tell we are lying, but they can. Do you really think that Sean Spicer or Sarah Huckabee Sanders will ever enjoy credibility again? Of course they won’t, any more than the name Benedict Arnold will come to be associated with someone you can trust.

The truth is that what we say and what we do matters. Our words and actions can either build us and other up or they can tear humanity down. The way these diminishments are caused may not be visible, but that doesn’t make them any less real.