20 October, 2007

Truthiness

Wikipedia features a different article every day. This makes perfect BlackBerry bathroom reading at work. Isn't technology great?

Anyway, back to the point. On Wednesday or so, the featured article was "Truthiness." The first sentence from the article is:
Truthiness is a satirical term created by U.S. television comedian and Presidential candidate Stephen Colbert to describe things that a person claims to know intuitively or "from the gut" without regard to evidence, logic, intellectual examination, or facts.

(I'm pretty sure the part about Steve being a presidential candidate was added recently, since he just announced. And checking that out, I just learned that he is only 3 days older than I am. My inner astrologist is suddenly wondering what might have been.)

Steve's point, of course, is that Bush's decisions should be trusted, because they always have a high degree of truthiness. The article makes hay of the truthiness that informed his Iraq decisions and the nomination of Harriet Miers, saying:
Consider Harriet Miers. If you 'think' about Harriet Miers, of course her nomination's absurd. But the president didn't say he 'thought' about his selection. He said this:

(video clip of President Bush:) 'I know her heart.'
Notice how he said nothing about her brain? He didn't have to. He feels the truth about Harriet Miers.


Funny, pointed, and routinely brilliant stuff. Truthiness is a rich and insidious insult, and I love it. (One of my favorite lines, though, shows Colbert photoshopped into a picture of a bunch of militant mullahs with the caption, "One place Steven Colbert won't be speaking truthiness to power.")

But like so many insults, once you get past the humor, it is only helpful internally.

My thoughts of truthiness wandered naturally to doctrinal discussion. Colbert is hopelessly right. When we approach a doctrinal discussion, we come with a gut-full of truth. Our truths are established by the strongest possible of proofs - we have survived because of them. They have taken us through fire and flood, and promise to take us to a sunlit future. Even when they don't really work.

I have personally been carried through trials of self-condemnation by legalism. And afterward I held more tightly to my legalism, even though I would never have gone through the trial in the first place had I completely released my need to please God. I faced a crisis of faith, and was forced to lay back upon my doctrine to move forward, and I made it through. And I erroneously believed legalism carried me. Really, I made it through because a deep acceptance of God's mercy worked under that false surface of rigid attempts to please His justice.

In my gut, I knew God was judging me, and that motivated me (falsely) to make it through my crisis. Forevermore after that, I was less likely to release my legalism. And with each trial I survived, my false doctrine was more deeply established. Apart from any scriptural or practical evidence, I knew in my gut what I should do. I should fear God, fear His standards, and push for perfection.

And here's the kicker. When anyone accused me of truthiness (in essence, even though they sadly lacked the pithy palaver), I had pseudo-facts with which to fire back. I could quote verses, string logic, and present the best side of my reasoning. It doesn't help to accuse me of truthiness, unless I do it myself.

May I, and may we, learn to see truthiness in the only place that matters.

3 comments:

Kansas Bob said...

For me, that truthy legalism was the stuff that my brain bought into because I embraced a literalist approach to the scriptures that was fueled and motivated by perfectionism and fear.

Once I began to engage my heart I saw legalism for the impotent approach to faith that it was.. legalism could do nothing to get me through my pain.. it still can't.. but trusting God with all my heart (not my understanding of Him or His book) gets me through each day - Ptl!!

karen said...

This is just a great post. Thanks, Kevin.

Milly said...

I don't stay in the bathroom that long at work so it would have been home reading.

anywho Amen to dat for all of us.