Pastor's Blog

“What is truth?” – Pontius Pilate

When I was young, I thought that was the silliest question I’d ever heard.  Truth, I thought, was obvious.

How long is that board?  Get a ruler and measure it.
How much water is in that jug?  Get a measuring cup and measure it.
How much does that ham weigh?  Put it on the scale and measure it.

But what if someone adjusted the ruler by a sixteenth of an inch either way?
What if someone adjusted the circumference or depth of the measuring cup?  What if someone adjusted the scale by an eighth of a pound?
Will my measurements be true?
What happens when someone arrives with a measure that is based on a different standard and measures the board or the water in the jug or the ham?

Who determines which measure is true?  And on what basis do we determine which measure is true?

Somewhere there must be a standard against which we check all weights and measures if we are to speak of measurements being true.

It is much easier to create a standard for weights and measures that are quantifiable and unchanging.

But what about human thoughts and words and opinions?  If we claim they are true – to what are they true?

This is not an easy question to answer, and traditional western liberalism is the idea that we respect individual perceptions of things and we interact with each other, freely speaking our minds, explaining ourselves, hearing the perceptions of others, so that we can clarify and broaden our thinking.  Western liberalism has believed this is the best way to growth and peace.  Allow diverse minds and souls to interact and make free choices to make life better.

Many of us are distressed because we fear that today – January 19, 2021 -- may be the last day where that traditional liberal approach to life that respects diversity of opinion has a chance of being respected in the United States of America.

What seems to be coming to power is something different.  It is tolerant of diversity on surface issues of difference of skin color or difference of gender, but not diversity of opinion – especially philosophical or political opinion. 

The opinions of the authorities are the standard measure of what is true, and you will agree, approve, and conform to what they tell you.  You aren’t permitted to differ.  If you differ, it’s because you don’t understand.  You must be re-educated until you conform.  And if you refuse to be re-educated or continue to differ, you may be deemed a troublemaker – a political threat -- or perhaps you are insane.  And there are harsh consequences for being a troublemaker.

When I talk this way, some people – younger ones especially -- roll their eyes.  Relax, they say.  Stop being so pessimistic.  You’re overreacting.

If you think so -- do one thing for me.  Promise me that this year you will read ten accounts of souls who have suffered under totalitarian regimes in communist or Muslim countries. 

Then let’s talk again.

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