As typical for me, there was a chain of events that brought this issue to my thoughts once again. I know the issues, which surround honestly and candor, are complex. I also realize I’ve written about this many times before . . . but here it is once more . . . if anyone is listening.
If you have stumbled onto this blog as a novice observer I must give a brief background.
I think I was someone who was drawn to the concept of “honest truth” or “true truth” from childhood. While an Evangelical I was always aware that what we said and reality had a strange disjointedness. I wasn’t the only one who lived dishonestly, but I observed it among my fellow Christians. But we all lived the myth. I saw my fellow Navigator trainees and roommates spend four hours in Bible study during the week and then report at the meeting that that they had spent eight. We lied about miracles and did everything we could to cover up our moral frailty and to potentiate the pretense of our godliness. We were always happy and nice . . . on the exterior.
But when I became disillusioned with Evangelicalism I faced tremendous pressure to start lying again. If I had lied, life would have been so much easier. But I was determined to try the Christian faith without the lies . . . like trying pizza without the cheese (which I've had once).
The last piece of this puzzle was watching my own five kids grow up and start to question the Christian paradigm. As my son Quentin voiced, “Not only is the Church a farce but the sad thing is that they don’t realize it is a farce.”
So this is why I’m committed to trying to speak and live honestly. It is for the sake of our youth if for no other reason. But there are other reasons.
My major philosophical view is that if God is there, then He must be a God of truth. Okay, maybe He doesn’t have to be . . . but the Christian God certainly proclaims to be truth. Then this should be truth in everything . . . including emotional truth. That is the hardest. Additionally Christianity teaches very clearly that lying is sin.
I’ve used the illustration many times (and I’m sorry for redundancy if anyone is here who has read this before) of a building. The basement is total honesty, meaning psychological and moral honestly as well as factual honestly. In my view, the building is about 100 stories tall, like that of the Sears (I think AKA “Willis”) Tower.
In the penthouse are those who have lost all grips of reality. This includes the mentally ill with psychosis (usually due to no fault of their own). As I’ve said, the problem with schizophrenics isn’t their sense of reason. They seem to reason clearly. But they have tremendous failure in their ability to perceive the real world around them.
Only a dozen or so floors below those who are insane, are the TV Evangelists with the big hair, Botox, stages of plastic flowers and plastic lives. Near them are many people in public life, like politicians, who live a life of what people need to believe about them in order to vote for them. Who knows what really lurks in their souls.
But not far below them are some of the professionals, and I will explain.
About ten years ago I wrote a (somewhat funny but honest) autobiography about my professional experiences. While many related and liked the book, I had some professionals slam me for “looking like a fool” and “being a bad representation of our medical profession.” So there is a professional myth where you are not human but a perfect, confident robot and are never caught making a mistake. I think of the Donald Trump, Inc. here. He and his children look to me as if they are made of fiberglass . . . maybe they are.
So I think most of Evangelicalism is lived out between the 30th and 50th floors.
Now my question this time around (and I will have to make a series about this) is can you really live honestly and can you do it without cruelty? I don’t think so anymore. I have lost my aspirations of living completely honest in this world. I do expect that in the new and improved world God will bring that there will be absolute candor and that world will be able to live within that paradigm, which it can not now.
The chain of events, which brought this to the forefront of my mind again, started with a conversation with my wife a few weeks ago. I made the statement, “I really want to live honestly!”
To which she replied, “But you don’t have to be cruel to people!”
I’m not sure what we were talking about but I’m sure it had something to do with church.
Now understand I have never advocated the type of cruel honestly as portrayed in the movie, The Invention of Lying. In that movie people would walk up to a stranger and tell them that they are fat and ugly.
But what do you do if you have absolutely no desire to go to a church meeting to watch a movie about the myths of global warming. Someone asks me,"Are you coming to the movie at church tonight?”
I say, “No.”
They then say, “Oh, do you have plans?”
I will say, “No. I just have no desire to watch the movie because I really do believe the science behind global warming.”
The people inviting me become very offended by my response. This is where my wife says I am cruel. My goal wasn't to be cruel . . . but to be honest.
So what do you do? You are left with two options. Smiling big and saying, “Oh, I would love to come.” Then you go and keep your mouth shut. Life is played out much easier this way. Or you say, “I’m sorry but I can’t come because we are expecting guests,” which is a bold-face lie.
But that is only scratching the surface. I've talked a lot about motives behind what we say and do. How honest can we be about it? I’m not sure. I don’t think I can speak with complete candor in my life time . . . without risking total alienation and becoming more of an object of hate.
I will close this beginning thought on my next event, which brought honestly to mind once again.
I’m presently reading Samuel Butler’s book, The Way of All Flesh. I read about him before I started this book. Apparently he was an un-celebrated writer during his lifetime. He started this, his most famous work, about eleven years before his death. He says in the book itself that his honestly will cause all people to hate him. The reason? He was living and writing in Victorian England. The thesis of his story (and I didn’t intentionally chose the book because of this subject matter) is revealing the hypocrisy of the Victorian, Christian society. I’m only a forth of the way through and already he draws a very distinct contrast between the real motives for decisions of a pastor and his family and their surface motives (like God called me to do this or that). By the time he completed the book he was too scared to even publish it and asked his sister to publish it after he was dead. He knew that his candor would go over like a lead balloon in the Christian society.
I will be back and deal with the issue honestly as it relates to flirting and deep personal insecurities . . . and how hard it is for any of us Christians to acknowledge either.
(P.S. I will come back and look for typos tomorrow)