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My work with individuals — students, parishioners, and clients — is built squarely on the critical role of truth and truth-telling. Below are some of my core beliefs about truth, and these core beliefs determine how I approach the truth in my work with people. I think more people (especially, but not only, religious people) need to be aware of these principles and observe them carefully.
1. Whenever possible, truth should never be forced on anyone.
We can force truth on a person in twenty seconds, whether they accept it or not. It may take them years to discover it on their own.
It’s worth the wait.
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From a recent Facebook post:
I want to be ruthlessly honest in my intellectual, spiritual, and political life and in my writings. I want to serve the truth and only the truth, not caring at all what a single person thinks otherwise. I’m not out to “defend” an ideology — just to learn and speak what is true. This even applies — especially applies — to religion.
If you need me to defend your ideology because you’ve already made up your mind about how things are, you’re going to be disappointed. I’m not your spin doctor.
Chapter 4 – The Roles of Fear and Mythology
Fear is the number one reason why people do not live truthfully. Fear keeps people locked up in themselves, and isolated from one another. Fear is the soil where hatred grows, both of self and of others. If you could get 10,000 people into a stadium who are not living well and ask them why, the vast majority would give you an answer that would have fear at its source. Fear paralyzes us.
Another major reason people do not live truthfully is because of their personal mythologies. A personal mythology is a preferred view of yourself that you will cling to at almost any cost. You will ignore all evidence that you may not be the person you cling to in your mythology. You will probably take offense at people who present you with a perspective of yourself that does not fit into your mythology. You will avoid watching TV programs that make it hard for you to continue to believe your mythology. You will avoid people who challenge your mythology. In fact, you will almost build your entire life around the maintenance of your mythology.
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.
Nothing is as difficult, or as necessary, as letting go. At this moment you are burdened by things from your past — damaging words, destructive arguments, hurtful parents and other role models, painful situations. These things build and build in your life, starting in childhood. You put them on the back burner so you can pay attention to other things, but that back burner is getting pretty crowded lately. How much can you ignore? The back burner only holds so much, and soon it is falling all over the floor, spilling out of your life like a wound that won’t stop bleeding.
You’ve tried everything.
- Not thinking about.
- Complaining about it.
- Not worrying about it.
- Hating God for it.
- Not talking about it.
- Keeping busy.
- Telling yourself to grow up, that there’s nothing you can do about it.
But that’s not true. There is something you can do. You can let go. Nothing is as difficult, or as necessary, as letting go. Letting go is not the same thing as not thinking about it, not worrying about it, not talking about it, keeping busy, or telling yourself to grow up. All of those are attempts to minimize or deny the hurt you have been feeling. Letting go acknowledges the hurt and feels it. It sits there in the hurt for a little while, lets it be exactly what it is. If you do not allow your hurt to be what it is, it will come out in ways that are harmful to you and to others. In fact, it is probably already doing that. You must let it be.
Then go beyond that. You acknowledge the hurt and you feel it. Then you forgive it. You forgive the person who hurt you. You forgive the world for not being fair. You forgive whoever or whatever for the hurt you are feeling and this includes forgiving yourself. You determine to be done with it, and you let it go. You can only really do this when you have been through the other steps. As long as you are running from your pain, it will be impossible to let it go. The hurt you are suffering now is at least as much from running as it is from whatever hurt you to begin with.
There is no healthier way to deal with pain than this. You can return to this process again and again with everything that has caused you grief. Letting go never gets old. Letting go never gets easy. Letting go never stops setting you free.
Question: How do you work through the process of letting go?
I’m going to say something a lot of people will be uncomfortable with, but it needs to be said for the only reason anything ever needs to be said — because it’s true. I’m speaking here to religious people, Christians in particular.
You, not God, and not the Bible, are the standard of right and wrong in your life. It begins with you.
I know. Sounds sacrilegious, doesn’t it? As a pastor, I often hear comments like these:
“I just want God’s truth and not the opinion of man.”
“Where do you find that in scripture?”
“That sounds like your opinion, not God’s.”
“But scripture says…”
“Yes, scripture says this, but it also says that. You have to have balance.”
“Our pastor teaches the Bible and only the Bible.”
All of these statements are problematic, because they depend on the existence of something that does not exist and never has.
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