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Satisfying Untruth or Unsatisfying Truth?

by | Oct 9, 2018 | Houses of Worship

So, we have been reminded, yet again, how divided we are as a people. In my tradition, there is a famous scene in which Jesus is facing the one who has the power to set him free or have him executed. Jesus tells Pilate that he has come to reveal truth. Pilate then asks Jesus, “What is truth?”

It seems we are still struggling to find an answer to that old question. We live in a time of “alternate facts” and “fake news.” One side accuses the other of conspiring against “the truth.”

Here is what I discovered from the writing of Richard Rhor:

The fundamentalist mind likes answers and explanations so much that it remains willfully ignorant about how history arrived at those explanations or how self-serving they usually are. Satisfying untruth is more pleasing to us than unsatisfying truth, and Big Truth is invariably unsatisfying—at least to the small self.

Great spirituality, on the other hand, seeks a creative balance between opposites. As Jesuit William Johnston writes, “Faith is that breakthrough into that deep realm of the soul which accepts paradox with humility.” When you go to one side or the other too much, you find yourself either overly righteous or overly skeptical and cynical. There must be a healthy middle, as we try to hold both the necessary light and darkness.

We cannot settle today’s confusion by pretending to have absolute and certain answers. But we must not give up seeking truth, observing reality from all its angles. We settle human confusion not by falsely pretending to settle all the dust, but by teaching people an honest and humble process for learning and listening, which we call contemplation. Then people come to wisdom in a calm and compassionate way. There will not be the knee jerk overreactions that we have in so many on both Left and Right today.

As long as we think that, either politically or religiously, we alone hold “the absolute truth,” there will be no motivation to listen to someone with whom we differ. Have we lost the ability to contemplate?

The above observation simply states that “great spirituality seeks a creative balance between opposites.” What seems to be pervasive in our competing religious culture is a form of simplistic and often rigid spirituality.

The word for spirit in Hebrew is ruah. Ruah can be translated as spirit, wind, or breath.      We sure need a breath of fresh air these days. Unity is the true gift of the spirit that is called “Holy” in the Judeo-Christian religion.

It may sound overly religious, but it seems to me that it is going to take the gift of a breath from beyond to provide that unity. We need some new breath. I close with one of my favorite songs from a sage of our time, Jimmy Buffet:

I bought a cheap watch from a crazy man
Floating down canal
It doesn’t use numbers or moving hands
It always just says now
Now you may be thinking that I was had
But this watch is never wrong
And If I have trouble the warranty said
Breathe In, Breathe Out, Move On

According to my watch the time is now
Past is dead and gone
Don’t try to shake it just nod your head
Breathe In, Breathe Out, Move On

Don’t try to shake it just bow your head
Breathe In, Breathe Out, Move On

(“Breathe in Breathe Out, Move On” by Jimmy Buffet)

Dr. Jody Seymour

Jody Seymour retired after serving Davidson United Methodist Church as Senior Pastor for 13 years and being a pastor for forty-six years in the Western North Carolina Conference. He is the author of six books and resides just outside of Davidson with his wife, Betsy.

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Satisfying Untruth or Unsatisfying Truth?

by | Oct 9, 2018

Support Your Community News