Truth series conclusion

We are at liberty to be real, or to be unreal.  We may be true or false, the choice is ours.  We may wear now one mask and now another, and never, if we so desire, appear with our own true face.  But we cannot make these choices with impunity.  Causes have effects, and if we lie to ourselves and to others, then we cannot expect to find truth and reality whenever we happen to want them.  If we have chosen the way of falsity we must not be surprised that truth eludes us when we finally come to need it!

Thomas Merton, in New Seeds of Contemplation

Following Truth (truth, prt 5)

Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black. — Henry Ford

Remark about the Model T in 1909, published in his autobiography My Life and Work (1922) Chapter IV.

If I could write one statement that would pretty accurately sum up how most people live in relationship to the truth, it would be this:

Any person can tell me any truth they want to tell me, as long as it makes me feel comfortable and happy.

Ridiculous?  Yes.  Said out loud?  Never.  The default sub-conscious mindset of most people much of the time?  Definitely.

As I have already written, there is no point on the truth journey where the option of denial is not available.  But for those who choose to stay on the journey, the next step after finding truth and facing truth is following it.  Finding the truth simply involves being exposed to it.  Facing it means admitting that the truth is true, and moreover, that the truth is true about you.  (We have little difficulty facing the truth about other people).  Following truth means intentionally deciding to move out of falsehood and make one’s home in what is true.  The journey isn’t easy and there are some things you’re going to need to bring with you.

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Facing Truth (truth, prt 4)

After we have found the truth (been presented with it in one way or another), we make a choice about whether or not to face it.  Simply being told the truth does not cause us to admit that it is true.  Those who after hearing the truth, slip back into denial and mythology, have chosen not to face it.  I haven’t used much scripture in my blog because I want people other than Christians to be able to feel at home here, but in this case I cannot help it.  Scripture just speaks too clearly about this:

John 3:19-21 (The Message)
19 “This is the crisis we’re in: God-light streamed into the world, but men and women everywhere ran for the darkness. They went for the darkness because they were not really interested in pleasing God.
20 Everyone who makes a practice of doing evil, addicted to denial and illusion, hates God-light and won’t come near it, fearing a painful exposure.
21 But anyone working and living in truth and reality welcomes God-light so the work can be seen for the God-work it is.”

God-light streamed into the world, but men and women everywhere ran for the darkness.

When light comes into our lives but we run for the darkness, that’s denial.  That’s retreating back into mythology and illusion.  That’s refusing to face the truth.  By the way, don’t over-spiritualize this.  Don’t assume this is referring to “spiritual truth” only.  In fact, there’s no such thing as spiritual truth. 

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Your Primal Fear

Fear that your way of viewing the world is wrong

fear

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Want proof that most people live with a deep fear they are constantly trying to disguise?

All you have to do is teach a college philosophy class and watch what happens as one person after another finds their most basic beliefs threatened. See how people sputter, how their ears and cheeks turn red, how they desperately flail around trying to find a logical argument to support their dearly-held beliefs. You can see the terror in their eyes.

Watch students drop out after two weeks, some of them honest enough to say, “This class is threatening my beliefs.” Translation: I am scared to death that this class is going to cause a deep crisis in my life and I don’t know how I’ll get through it. I’m afraid I’ll discover that the logical reasons for being Christian aren’t any better than the logical reasons for *not* being Christian (or Muslim, or Buddhist, or Wiccan, or atheist, etc.), and that scares me to death. So I’m going to quit, and pretend I don’t know the things I’ve come to know.

The Matrix translation: I’ll have the blue pill, thank you.

We are fragile people, running from anything that might hold our beliefs up to the light, but then defending that unstable fortress vigorously, as if we are certain we are correct, even to the point of getting angry at anyone who challenges us or refuses to accept our version of reality.

This is human nature. We try to act strong and confident, but we’re terrified someone might be able to get us to question our reality. That’s precisely why you should be most suspicious of those who admit to the least doubt. This isn’t an indicator of strong faith, but of a deeper-than-usual fear which causes them to be especially rigid, so it is not only others who are not permitted to question their beliefs, but they themselves.

If Hitler or Stalin had been willing to allow someone to challenge their beliefs, they could have been proved wrong in ten minutes. This because, like all homicidal belief systems, their beliefs were irrational. Instead they chose to cover over their doubt with what looked like strength by exterminating millions of people. ISIS is engaged in this same mindless work today. Defending, reacting, and simply killing all who threaten them, lest they be exposed to themselves as what they are — mindless and evil automatons, whose real beliefs are irrational and therefore without any sensible defense.

On some level we are all doing that work — defending, reacting, and ignoring, criticizing, or downplaying those who threaten our way of seeing the world.

Once upon a time I was naive enough to think Christians would see this pattern (since this mindless defensiveness and reactivity is what killed Jesus), or at least *want* to see it, and that most would understand that God, who is truth, calls us into truth and that we have nothing to protect or fear.

How wrong I was. As a group, Christians are as deeply rooted in unreality, in defending, reacting, and fighting against truth, as anyone — oftentimes more.

All because of fear, which Christians know, in their minds at least, perfect love drives out of us. Still, most choose fear over love and in today’s political environment, I’m sorry to say more are actively choosing fear than I have ever seen before.

My Eulogy

Words I'm Trying to Live Into Before I'm Gone

dead rose - eulogy

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If you don’t know that a lot of famous people have been dying lately, you’re living under a rock. With all these people dying, I’ve been reading a lot of tweets and posts in memoriam. It got me to thinking about what I want to be said about me after I am gone. I hope my eulogy goes something like this:

Dave was the guy you knew would always tell you the truth, and the one who seemed to usually be able to cut through the crap and get down to what a problem  was really about. He faced a lot of challenges, especially as he got up to around 50 and then beyond, but he took it in stride and kept going, kept pouring his life into others, and always found a way to see his life as a gift from God.

And his life was a gift to all who knew him, which is the way he always wanted it. And the closer people were to him, the more they respected him. You knew he was the real deal. He didn’t try to be anything he wasn’t and was always honest about who he was, even when it wasn’t pretty.

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