The satirical Babylon Bee website hit it out of the park with this headline: “Culture In Which All Truth Is Relative Suddenly Concerned About Fake News.” The Bee “quotes” one man expressing his concern and goes on, “‘It just doesn’t seem right that they can publish stuff that’s just blatantly not true,’ added the man, who also noted his firm belief that everyone has the right to define their own version of truth.”
If all of the furor about “fake news” resulted in showing people the blatant contradiction in their thinking and forcing them to affirm objective truth and morality, it would all be worthwhile. But, alas, I suspect that critical thinking is too far-gone these days for most people to realize — and then admit — that they’ve been living an incredibly convenient lie: truth is relative whenever it suits me.
I was thinking about all this during church on Sunday. Last weekend our family slipped away to Salt Lake City to ski and attended St. Jude’s Maronite Catholic Church.
This is the Truth
The Maronites are from Lebanon and Syria, centered in Antioch where, the priest reminded us, “the disciples were first called Christians” (Acts 11:46). While the service was in English (Syriac and Arabic being the other two options), the words of consecration (“This is my body. … This is my blood. …”) were said in Aramaic, the language Jesus used at the Last Supper.
Now that is amazing, but what struck me most about the service were the words spoken by the priest after he read the Gospel of the day: “This is the Truth. Peace be with you.”
“This is the truth.” What a wonderful way to end any Bible reading in any church. Part of me, however, wants to change the “Peace be with you,” to “Deal with it.”
I say that because we are so accustomed to lies and spin that even the Gospel can seem a bit negotiable. As Anthony Esolen writes in his new book Out of the Ashes: Rebuilding American Culture, “It isn’t just the sheer multitude of lies, or their weight, like a mudslide rumbling down the side of a two-mile-high volcano. It is that we really do not expect people to do anything but lie.” And that can’t help but influence how we read the Bible.
In the past, people may have wanted to broadcast lies as true, but, Esolen comments, “The spirit might have been willing enough, but the technology was weak.” Town criers, he points out, have a small audience. Mass education, newspapers, television, and the Internet, on the other hand, make spreading lies to huge swaths of the population a matter of child’s play.
And so even in the Church we could use the reminder: “This is the truth. Deal with it.”
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