Monday, October 26, 2009

THE Truth vs. A Truth. Part IV

You cannot know THE truth, it is as simple as that. You can narrow it down, make it clearer, or bring it into focus through myriad of truth’s out there. A truth is often called a truism and while that may be the poor stepchild of hindsight it also can narrow down THE truth for those who follow.

I am going to go out on a limb here and try to narrow down THE truth for you through the dark glass of my experience, experimentation, immersion, digging and my own personal BS detector. I say it is going out on a limb because I am insinuating that I know something as truth in a world where stating something solid and nonflexible is the equivalent of intolerance and arrogance. Yet here I venture ...

Truth #1: God is. There is simple NO BETTER explanation for SOMETHING being here. For SOMETHING to be here there has to be something OUTSIDE, or totally OTHER that got that something going. Try as we might to outthink, outwit and outlast God we are simply left with A truth: God is.

Truth #2: I am NOT God. There is nothing inside me that needs to be realized or customized or positivized into godlike status. I know I am not God in the same way I know I am not a tree.

Truth #3: Evil is natural. The question is not why is there evil or bad things in the world; the question is: how could you ever expect ANY GOOD in the world? The tendency toward evil and bad things is natural for us and left alone WILL fall into the world of the Lord of the Flies. In a strange way, Evil proves God because it is our nature to expect good things to happen even when Evil seems to be prevalent. That expectation of good, is a God thing.

Truth #4: There is something about we humans. For over a century now we have been trying to erase away the “specialness” of human beings and we simply cannot do it. Our bright eyes continue to shine through the muck thrown on our faces. Science may tell us that we share 99% of our genetic makeup with chimps but we all KNOW deep down that we are more than our genes and we are WAY different than the cute, poop-slinging monkeys.

Truth #5: Work is for YOU. Work is an amazing thing. Work makes you feel worthwhile. Work gives you self esteem. Work can take you out of depression. Working at relationships can get you the love you seek. Working at friendships can give you lifelong friends. Working with your kids can give you a warm-hearted pride. Working can show your gratitude for a gift. But work cannot gain you eternity. Salvation is cheapened when there are a set of works that need to be done to attain it. If you simply do A, B, C and D then you will spend eternity in heaven cannot be the answer. Works are a powerful thing but not THE thing.

Here's THE thing ... (next week)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

THE Truth vs. A Truth. Part III

So THE truth is only known by God and all we can do on that truth path is to say, “As far as I know that is THE truth.” But many truths are available to us and these truths like a pixilated picture give us a clearer picture of THE truth as we assemble them. NO ONE can know THE truth about God but we are given truths about him: God is light, God is love, God is like a hen gathering her chicks, God is justice, God is holy, God is powerful, God is provider, etc. All of these are A truth about God but they are not THE truth about God: they simply give us a clearer picture of who or what God is.

So how can we bring the individual truths together to give ourselves a better picture of THE truth?

A truth can be found in experimentation. If you do it once and it works, then do it again and it still works, then have others do it and it STILL works the same: chances are it is a truth. If I hit my head with a hammer and it hurts, and I do it again and it hurts, and if you do it and it hurts THEN A truth is: hit yourself with a hammer and it will hurt. So experiment, don’t just take people’s word for it, try it for yourself to discover that truth.

A truth can be found in experiences. While experiences can be extremely subjective they are a way of bringing truth into focus. I will always remember what love is by going back to an airport scene when I was in the business world and my kids were young. I came home from a trip to have my 2-3 year old daughter leap from her mother’s arms into mine and hold me in near-painful “I love you” grip and refusing to let go until I had to put her into the car seat. That experience gave me A truth about love that I will never forget. I know that a part of THE truth of love is to hold tight and don’t let go.

A truth can be found in total immersion. It used to be that when you hired a new bank teller you would have them handle money for days. Simply take a stack of bills and count them out over and over again. Getting the feel for real money gives you a “feel” for false ones. When you come across a fake bill you “feel” it because you know the real ones so well. It feels different, it feels wrong, it feels false and not true. Total immersion is the best way to learn a new language, not from the books and a formal teacher but from the REAL language spoken and used. Immerse yourself in truth and you will find non-truth to be easy to spot and “feel”.

A truth can be found it digging. You don’t find diamonds unless you remove a lot of dirt. This world is filled with useless information and you must dig through it to find the nuggets of truth that are available. But you will never find anything unless you are digging. Too often we expect truth to fall in our laps without working for them and that is when cheap truisms and shallow insights take us captive. Dig for truth, work for it and you will find a horde of it waiting for you.

A truth can be found in your internal truth detector. All of us have an internal BS meter, some of them work better than others but we all have it. Unfortunately we abuse it and ignore it to the point where most of us find it useless in most situations. I know we were built with this detector within us: call it God’s image or a survival of the fittest mechanism; I don’t care much but we all have it. Someone tells you something as THE truth you BS meter should be ringing alarms in your mind since no one has THE truth. It may be truth in a particular situation with all the conditions right but never can it be THE truth.

Here are some things through my life’s experimentations, experiences, immersions and digging that I have come to realize as parts of the picture of THE truth ... (next time)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

THE Truth vs. A Truth. Part II

Remember that THE truth is not within our reach. I can give the greatest speech or sermon within my ability and I will have one tell me it was a waste of time and another say it was just okay. Which is THE truth?

Buddhists will tell you THE truth lies within you and you must simply discover it. THE truth is variable and based on the individual.

Hitler and his ilk would tell you that THE truth lies within those with the power. Might makes truth and the winners write the history books.

Christians will tell you that THE truth lies within a person: Jesus. You can find out about THE truth in the Bible.

And THERE is the problem. We Christians confuse THE truth of Jesus with THE truth of the Bible. We say that everything in the Bible is THE truth but is that correct?

Let me give you an example. Genesis 1 tells us of creation in six days in a particular order of events with rest following on the seventh day. Is that THE truth? Does it matter that Genesis 2 has a different version of creation or that Psalms, Proverbs, and Job has a completely different version and order of creation? Does the fact that Egypt, Mesopotamia, and China have similar versions of creation support Genesis 1 as THE truth or detract from it? Does the fact that NO ONE WAS THERE to see make a difference? (Moses was not there with a pen and paper waiting to write down God’s next move)

So is Genesis 1’s version of creation not truth? Creation is A truth but not THE truth. The creation story in Genesis 1 shows God’s salvation from Chaos which is A truth about our God and how he saves us and this world. Genesis 2 shows human kind as the pinnacle of creation which is A truth about how we are made in his image. The Psalms version of creation shows A truth poetically how just like God subdued the chaos in creation he does the same with our lives. The Proverbs version of creation gives us A truth about the supremacy of wisdom in our lives. Finally the Job version of creation gives us A truth about how small we are in compared to the creator God. Each version gives us A truth but none of them give us THE truth.

As much as we want to go around claiming we have THE truth about this or that we are simply lying to ourselves. A truth is a pixel of the complete picture called THE truth, to claim that a pixel or two is the complete picture is insanity. Here’s how you can bring the picture of THE truth into focus ... (next time).

Saturday, October 10, 2009

THE Truth vs. A Truth. Part I

It is time to get something out of my system that has been festering a while. There are certain things that constantly run through my mind that seem to come up repeatedly like a cow’s cud for me to chew on a while and then save to chew on again later. Morsels of insight or confusion that starts blurry and as I cogitate on it more and more I can begin to define the edges and sometimes even some of the creamy filling.

Forgive me if I delve too deeply into gorge of my mind but I have been chewing on the concept of truth lately. It seems to me that people confuse the difference between THE truth and A truth. Let me try to explain what I mean. When I look back on my childhood I see a preponderance of happiness. Reason would tell me that every second of my childhood was NOT happy but even when I remember my dad pulling out his belt or my mom picking up a paddle to whack my undisciplined bottom it seems NOW that it was a pleasant memory. So when I talk of my happy childhood my brother or sister might say, “What are you crazy? Don’t you remember this or that! You are lying through your teeth!” Their experience MIGHT be totally different from mine and, in fact, could be totally opposite of mine. So which is the truth?

Am I lying when I say I had a happy childhood when evidence from my siblings supports the opposite? Are my siblings lying if they claim an abusive childhood? Where is the truth?

THE truth is somewhere in between the angelic happiness and abusive happenings. THE truth is an objective fact that only God can see in an untainted view. THE truth is not within our reach because everything we experience is tainted by our beliefs, worldview, and environment. We cannot reasonably say “THAT’S the truth” because we don’t really know if it is or not. We can say, “To the best of my knowledge, THAT’S the truth.” But that is the farthest we can go down the truth path.

But does that mean that truth is unavailable to us? What is the point of having truth if no one can reach it? In a world filled with falsehood and lies how do we have law and moral behavior?

While THE truth may be unavailable to us it doesn’t me that there is no truth out there that we can draw on. There is a truth out there that we can used to guide our life. I had a happy childhood where I had two parents who loved me, cared for me, disciplined me, and set me up to be a successful person to the BEST of their ability. THE truth may not be what I remember of my childhood but, really, does that matter? A truth that I draw from my childhood was one of happiness BECAUSE OF the love, care, and discipline I had growing up. A truth IS: Love, care, and discipline leads to a happy childhood. My particular childhood may not have THE truth of happiness but it certainly had A truth called happiness. This leads me to ... (next time).

Tuesday, October 06, 2009


“Shame on you!” I would hear too often when growing up and I would be embarrassed or was I ashamed? Embarrassment and shame are two distinct things yet we tend to use them interchangeably. I like words and I like to find roots of words and their meanings and why we use them.

Shame literally means “to cover up” and its origin is biblical. When Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit and discovered “knowledge” of good and evil; they sought to “cover up” themselves in the face of Almighty God. That covering came to be called shame.

Embarrass means to “perplex, or throw into doubt” and it was originally used for the wealthy in France who had so much money they didn’t know what to do with it: “embarrass de richesse.” It is the internal sense of awkwardness or expose’ from something you did or was done to you.

I think the difference between the two can be determined by another word: guilt. I believe embarrassment + guilt = shame.

I have done a LOT of stupid things in my life that embarrassed me. I have been in situations of EXTREME embarrassment through no fault of my own. I remember ripping my pants while bending over, tripping and falling in front of a classroom of merciless teenagers, getting easy problems wrong, asking for dates and being laughed at, or simply making the wrong decision. Each of these, where done to me or done by me, may be embarrassing but not shameful. Not shameful because there was no evil intent behind it, hence no guilt.

I have done some shameful things in my life as well. I have intentionally hurt people, I have said things for the sole purpose of causing pain, I have lied, cheated and stolen. All of these things I am ashamed of. I am more than embarrassed that I, a thinking, logical, moral person have been guilty of hurting others for no reason other than for hurting them; I am guilty; I am ashamed.

In our society today we try to take the guilt out of shame and call it embarrassment when it is something we should be ashamed of. Having a baby and not being married is not embarrassing it is shameful. “Forgetting” to pay your taxes or your house payment is not embarrassing it is shameful. Gossiping and verbally abusing others is not embarrassing when you get caught it is shameful.

Don’t get me wrong, we are all guilty of shameful acts, we all fall short of what we should be but NEVER try to eliminate the shame by calling it what it isn’t. When you are ashamed don’t simply say “THAT was embarrassing” you must LEARN and not do it again. If you don’t learn, if you don’t grow and get better; well, shame on you!