Tag Archives: lies

A call for peace

Let there be peace. This is my solemn prayer.  That we need not die or assassinate each other’s character to experience it.  I don’t just want to rest in peace but to live in peace.

But, it is hard to find peace and quiet these days. It is an unlikely combination.  Albert Einstein said, “Peace is not merely the absence of war but the presence of justice, of law, of order— in short government.” Maybe this is why the American Empire keeps up a racket.  Its politicians make a fuss.

Old arguments rile us up and kick up dust. The breaking news is breaking us.  Another day, another insult, another mass shooting, another natural or human- made disaster, another scandal, another threat, another investigation.  Life has been reduced to litigation.

Our lives are littered with disputes. Who will clean this up?  As we dumpster dive into people’s lives, sifting through trashy details for treasures, for trophies, for the win in yet another argument.  But Jesus said that for all we might gain, we lose.  He challenges our capitalistic conclusions: “For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life[i],” “and lose their soul”?[ii]

And what are we fighting about now? What is he[iii] lying about now?  What are we trying to get out of now?  What I wouldn’t do for peace of mind, for a piece of time without digs, jabs, low blows and cheap shots.  What I wouldn’t give for relief from manipulations, plots, schemes and double- dealing.

We pick fights and then pick at the fights. America is one big sore spot, made worse by the backbiting, the gas lighting.  Hair is on fire while trying to tread lightly.  We walk on egg shells.  It is not safe for anyone to carry the truth of our pain, our sadness, our doubts.

Instead, we cry, “Peace, peace.”   Still, the weight of reality is crushing us, bearing down on us, smashing our faces against the window, weighting us down in our pews.  We hold our tongues and consequently, can’t move.

But, my elders would say, “Tell the truth and shame the devil.”

Because lies don’t really serve us; instead, they do the devil’s bidding. They are his children.  Lies are the adversary’s “native tongue.”[iv]  No believer should be fluent in this language.

At least that is what Jesus said to those in the temple, “He (that is the devil) was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.  But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me.”[v]

Jesus says that because he tells the truth, they doubt him. Because he tells the truth, Jesus will not make a believer out of them.  Instead, they pick up stones. Rest in peace, Jesus. Because they would rather kill the messenger than hear him out.

Regrettably, not much has changed from his time until now. Rather than hear the ugly truth, we pick up stones.  Shooing away “our better angels,” we let the devil come along.  “Deceiving and being deceived,”[vi] we think peace will come after just one more lie.

We say, “That’s not true. We’re okay.  Everything’s fine.”  With pieces of the sky in our hair, we tell each other, “There’s nothing to see here.  Please go back inside.  Go back to business as usual.  Peace, peace.”

Prophet- preachers find themselves in a familiar tough spot. Walter Brueggeman said there are three urgent prophetic tasks: to assert reality, that is truth- telling, to give voice to grief in spite of our denials and to proclaim hope less we fall into despair.[vii] Jeremiah warned us not to cry, “Peace, peace when there is no peace.”[viii]  Still, there are those who want us to fake it until we make it to heaven, to nod and smile, to go along to get along, to keep everyone comfortable, to maintain the status quo and to not get out of the boat.  But, “the rain drops keep falling on (our) heads.”

Malcolm Muggeridge teaches us, “People do not believe lies because they have to but because they want to.” They need to keep the argument going, keep the power of truth bogged down in tedious and unnecessary paperwork.  Friedrich Nietzsche was right, “The most common lie is that which one lies to himself; lying to others is relatively an exception.” Yet, the psalmist makes none but cried, “I kept my faith, even when I said, ‘I am greatly afflicted.’  I said in my consternation, ‘Everyone is a liar.’”[ix]

Which is why it is essential that we know Jesus. Jesus said that if we know him, we know freedom.  He said, “… you will know the truth and the truth will make you free.”[x]  How then are we so confined, so short of breath, so short- tempered?  Why do we seem unable to take another step—even if it is in the direction of understanding?  It is due to the growing anxiety in our world as the lies are piled on top of us.  Because as the saying goes, “If at first you’re not believed, lie, lie again.”

Still, it is hard to keep the world at arm’s length when it is constantly trying to pull you in, draw you in, bring you into the fight. It tells one lie, one half- truth at a time.  It offers illusions at half price and sells wholesale deceptions.  “Truth is whatever you want it to be,” they say.  But, as believers, we cannot make peace with that.

And I cannot make sense of that; still, there is a blessing in making peace no matter what becomes of us. Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers.”[xi]  I receive his blessing and offer it to you.

____________________________

[i] Mark 8.36, NRSV

[ii] Mark 8.36, KJV

[iii] That is, Donald Trump

[iv] John 8.44, NIV

[v] John 8.44b-45, NRSV

[vi] Second Timothy 3.13

[vii] Walter Brueggeman, Reality, Grief, Hope: Three Urgent Prophetic Tasks, (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdsmans Publishing Company, 2014), 2.

[viii] Jeremiah 6.14

[ix] Psalm 116.10-11, NRSV

[x] John 8.32, NRSV

[xi] Matthew 5.9

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The Lies My Race Told Me

I hate lies. There is no progress in them. They keep us in the same place. Lies are cyclical and telling them does nothing to advance our position, increase our understanding or elevate our level of awareness, whether personal, physical, social, spiritual or otherwise. In fact, maintaining a lie ensures that change in any form does not occur.

Lies are repetitive as nothing new is said. Instead, what happened in response to the lie, the way that it used to be or has always been because of the lie is restated again and again. Soon, a story, a historical experience becomes a state of mind and a manner of existing. We cannot move beyond the lie due to its seeming power and enduring presence. We live the lie and live life in accordance to its pronouncements.  In turn, our personhood becomes a falsehood and sadly, we will not challenge the lie or better, tell the truth in an effort to maintain the history that embodied it and because we don’t know how to live apart from it.

But, lies cover more than they reveal and telling them is not a means of resolution.  More lies will not bring closure.  Instead, they leave us incomplete as the truth is always missing.  But, there is freedom in truth; it allows us to go where we would not have ventured otherwise.  There is clarity in truth, providing a vision that we would not have had the courage to see in the presence of the lie.  There is support in the truth; we can stand on it and build from it.  It is reliable; we can depend on it.  In fact, the Bible is often described as truth as is the Son of God, Jesus Christ.  So, what of race and its lies?

James W. Loewen’s The Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong, dedicated to “all American History teachers who teach against their textbooks” and published in 1995, was the result of a two year comparative study of dozens of high school American History textbooks and is the inspiration for the title of this new post I would suppose.  The title again came to mind in an unexpected manner and I would assume that it was the result of my exposure to the above- mentioned literary text.  Nevertheless, here are just a few lies that race has taught me and biblical truths that call them into question. I dedicate this post to those who would have the courage to teach against the lies of race.

Lie #1— God hates __________ people. Truth: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever would believe in him would not perish but have eternal life” (John 3.16).

Lie #2— This is a white/black/red/yellow/brown/beige woman’s/man’s world. Truth: “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof; the world and they that dwell therein” (Psalm 24.1).

Lie #3— I am the best of creation or better because I am __________. Truth: “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3.23).  The social coloring of one’s skin is not an innate defect or evidence of perfection.

Lie #4— I am the worst of God’s creation because I am __________. Truth: “And God saw all that He had made and it was very good.” (Genesis 1.31).  Historically, it was argued that there was a separate creation narrative for each of the different races because “white” people could not be related to other races through a common beginning.  The theories of racial origin came to be known as monogenism, the belief that all races have a single origin and polygenism, the belief that all races have a separate origin.

Lie #5— I am powerful and was created to dominate other people because I AM THE WAY to be. Truth: “And God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the foul of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth” (Genesis 1.25).  No people group is mentioned in the list of what humanity was to dominate.  We were never destined to dominate each other.  Also, this may be the cause for why there was an attempt by American slaveholders to redefine African slaves as beasts and animals. Jesus said of himself, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life” (John 14.6).

Lie #6— I am powerless to change my circumstance or station in life. Truth: “I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength” (Philippians 4.13). God says through prophet Jeremiah, “I know the plans that I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29.11).

Lie #7— I am supreme because I am _________. Truth: “This is what the LORD says: “Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the LORD” (Jeremiah 17.5). ” ‘Not by might nor by power but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord God Almighty” (Zechariah 4.6). For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength” (I Corinthians 1.25).

Lie #8— I sit on the lowest rung of the social hierarchy. Truth: “(God) made humanity a little lower than the angels; yet (God) crowned them with glory and honor” (Hebrews 2.7). “So the last will be first and the first will be last” (Matthew 20.16).

Lie #9— God is white/black/red/yellow/brown/beige. Truth: “God is not a man” (Numbers 23.19). “No one has ever seen God at any time” (John 1.18).

 Lie #10— I am ugly because I am not __________. Truth: “I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are your works. My soul knows it very well” (Psalm 139.14). “You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you” (Song of Solomon 4.7). “…Let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious” (I Peter 3.4).