Living Truthfully, chapter 3: Why It’s So Easy to Live Untruthfully

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Chapter 3 – Why It’s So Easy to Live Untruthfully

“Despite our basic intelligence and our ability to make wise choices, many of us don’t! In 2006 Daniel Goleman wrote a groundbreaking book called Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ.   The book explains why sometimes very smart people do very stupid things. I consider myself a pretty smart person and I know I have done some really stupid things. How about you? Does this sound like anyone you know? Very intelligent people, who may be excellent at knowing how to help others, can nevertheless lack the emotional intelligence to know how to be the person they teach others to be. Why is it so easy for us to live untruthfully, even when we might know how to guide others into truth?

I will be posting those chapter summaries (which are direct quotes from each chapter) over the next couple of weeks. That will give you a good idea what the book is about and whether you think you will be interested in reading it when it is finally available. If you read these posts, I sincerely ask you to consider leaving a comment for me. Your questions and comments will only help me deliver a better book, and I want to write the best book I can possibly write.

Living Truthfully, chapter 2: What Is Truth

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Chapter 2 – What Is Truth

“You have probably heard before that an airplane pilot will not know whether he is up or down if he is surrounded by clouds and cannot see the ground or the horizon, unless an instrument on the panel tells him which way is up. If that instrument breaks, he is in very big trouble. The horizon is truth. It is the harsh reality you will have to deal with if you lose your bearings. When you realize that truth is simply what is (that truth is the same as reality) it becomes obvious that there is nothing greater in life to pursue than truth. To pursue truth is to pursue reality – a way of living in the world that is consistent with the way things actually are, not the way we dream, desire, or wish for them to be. You cannot make proper decisions if you do not know the truth about your life and your situation.

This means, then, that truth is basic and essential information. In order to make a right decision about something you may need to possess quite a bit of knowledge, but the very least amount of knowledge you need is accurate knowledge about what is the truth of your situation. That is why our tendency to deceive ourselves (we will look closely at this in chapter three), and the ease with which we do this, is a big problem. We simply cannot fly right if we don’t know the truth.”

I will be posting those chapter summaries (which are direct quotes from each chapter) over the next couple of weeks. That will give you a good idea what the book is about and whether you think you will be interested in reading it when it is finally available. If you read these posts, I sincerely ask you to consider leaving a comment for me. Your questions and comments will only help me deliver a better book, and I want to write the best book I can possibly write.

Living Truthfully, chapter 1: Living Untruthfully

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Chapter 1 — Living Untruthfully

“A lot of people are living untruthfully, in darkness (synonymous spiritually with falsehood, lies, denial, self-deception, bondage, and unreality). In eighteen years as a pastor, fifteen years as a counselor, and five years as a college professor, I unfortunately get a front row seat to most of the ways people refuse to engage reality. Pastors, perhaps more than most, know what it feels like to have scars on our knees from hours spent praying a) for people who refuse to walk out into the light and therefore seem to actually care less about their lives than we do, and b) for people who sincerely want to live truthfully but have spent so long in darkness that even a hint of light is frankly excruciating for them. (People in both groups are suffering, but only people in the second group know it.) Either way, living untruthfully is ultimately a dead end. To live untruthfully is to constantly betray and neglect ourselves in big ways, for the sake of remaining comfortable in some smaller way.”

My search for a publisher for my book, Living Truthfully, has begun in earnest. It is hard to explain the reasons behind all the hold-ups. They are sometimes legitimate problems and issues with the manuscript or proposal that I have to resolve. Other times I get really busy and just don’t put in the time. Still other times I’m paralyzed temporarily by fear and have to talk myself into keeping moving. My proposal is now finished, which means I have summaries written for each chapter. I will be posting those chapter summaries (which are direct quotes from each chapter) over the next couple of weeks. That will give you a good idea what the book is about and whether you think you will be interested in reading it when it is finally available. If you read these posts, I sincerely ask you to consider leaving a comment for me. Your questions and comments will only help me deliver a better book, and I want to write the best book I can possibly write.

Letting go of our children

waving goodbye

Letting go of anything/anyone we love is never easy, and letting go of our children is surely one of the hardest things we will ever have to do. I was dialoging with a close friend about that over email recently, and she so beautifully captured the agony and ecstasy of the letting go season of life. I thought it would resonate with those of you who are there, or who have been there.

Having kids close together is overwhelming when they are little and need so much attention. It’s also scary when you realize that in a very short time they will be leaving and we will be the ones hoping for their attention. Reminds me of that scene from Hook, when the Robin Williams character is so caught up in work and his wife is trying to get him to see what he is missing.

The first one leaving just leads to the next, and the next. I feel overwhelmed by it at the oddest moments. I find myself scrutinizing the time we have spent with them. Did we read enough, talk enough, play enough, listen enough…my stomach gets tied in knots at times and then I realize that I can’t change any of that. I can only try to make the most of the time we have left, without making it seem too desperate.

I almost don’t want them to realize what I am doing. They might feel weird. And I am so excited for them at the same time. New experiences, sorting out their beliefs, meeting new people, becoming more of themselves.

So strange…it does go by so fast…

[Image courtesy of rhino neal, licensed under Creative Commons]

On being right

right

I think maybe the Catholics are right. I went to a Catholic funeral this morning. Every time I go to a Catholic funeral, I wish I were Catholic. Seriously. Catholics know what to do with death. They’ve been doing it much the same way for hundreds of years. If your loved one dies as a Catholic, you know what to expect at the funeral. If your loved one dies as a Protestant, good luck with that. Unless that person has a skilled pastor already, the funeral is going to be a crap shoot. Just sayin’.

I love the Catholic liturgy — the songs, the things the whole group speaks together, the cantor, the incense, even the boundaries around communion. It seems to wrap me up in a comforting blanket, and I feel safe. As pastor of a fairly progressive evangelical church, mass always gets me to thinking — about all the strong opinions I and others hold about what is the right way and wrong way to do church, including Catholics. Maybe they’re right.

Or maybe nobody is right. I always come away with only one conclusion that makes any sense. This is all ridiculous, really, isn’t it? I mean who the hell really knows what is the best way to have church, do church, or be church? Does anyone really believe there is only one good way? This in turn gets me to thinking about the things I post here on this blog. I have my opinions. You have yours. Sometimes we agree, sometimes we don’t. But who really knows? The heat we bring to our arguments sometimes seems so out of proportion to how ultimately unknowable the big answers are.

Maybe you are right. Maybe I am right. I’m convinced that it’s probably the other way around, that very, very few people are apprehending reality as it is. In other words, I am fairly confident most of us are really quite mistaken about God and reality (including these very thoughts, of course). The only response to this is basic humility. I’m just writing what occurs to me, throwing it out there and seeing what impact it has. I don’t pretend to know all the answers. What I can tell you is that as long as I have this blog, I will keep posting my questions, keep engaging people, keep thinking and asking others to think as well. That’s all we have. We may not know most of the answers, but we can engage one another around the questions.

Question: Are you confident your church, your tradition is “right”? How do you know this?

Image courtesy of ambernectar13, licensed under Creative Commons