Why I don’t tell the (whole) truth

Posted on July 25, 2012


I don’t usually speak everything I’m thinking. This may surprise you if you have ever been loaded down with my opinions, but its true, I sometimes hesitate speak up even when I know I should.

There are many reasons for this, but mainly its because in my (almost) 33 years on this earth, I have picked up certain identifiers. These are characteristics that tell the world (and myself) who I am. Some of these are simple things: where I went to high school, college, or seminary. Some relate to people; I am a son, brother, friend, husband, and father. A big one is my job. I have identifiers that come from things I’ve done and things I hope to do. Some of these identifiers grow out of how much money I make, what kind of car I drive, the size and style of my house, and the clothes I wear. Everyone has identifiers. At times I wear them comfortably and at times I feel like I’m wearing 1,000 t-shirts at the same time.

The reason I don’t always tell the truth is because I am afraid of losing my identifiers.

What if I piss-off the wrong people? What if people get angry and stop talking to me? Who will I be? What if my various Alma-maters are ashamed of me? Who will I be? What if I lose my job and as a result, my car, clothes, house, and family? Who will I be then? What if I stop being able to write or run? Who will I be? I don’t tell the truth because I don’t want to take off all my identifiers and stand naked and finish the sentence, “This I believe…”

The reason I don’t always tell the truth is because I want people to like me.

I don’t have many friends. Time and circumstance have evolved in such a way that many of the people I connect with the most don’t live near me. I like to be alone much of the time, but even I need people to talk to, share stories with, and drink a beer around a campfire occasionally. I’m afraid that if I say something political or religious or argumentative I will cut myself off from possible friends. And I need friends. (Not just Facebook friends.)

The reason I don’t always tell the truth is because I don’t always have all the answers.

I know that many (if not most) people are smarter and more well-read than I am. I cannot quote chapter and verse from the Bible. I don’t love John Calvin. My statements of belief cannot stand against a furious, logical argument. I know that I may be wrong and am willing to change my mind, but that attitude means when I face someone in the grip of 100% conviction, I become emotional and throw in the towel.

But I am tired of not taking stands on things that I believe are important.

Challenged by Drew’s comment on my last post. I have been thinking about several things which I have avoiding addressing for many of the above reasons. But since I believe that when we are not true to ourselves rip apart the very fabric of the created order, I lay myself bare and share with you some of the core convictions of my life. I cannot explain them or defend them, but I do believe them.

1. I believe that Christians need to spend more time getting physically healthy and less time being spiritually healthy. Being overweight affects your attitude toward yourself, your job, your world, and yes, God too. Unfortunately the Bible is NOT a weight loss program.

2. No one should be excluded from participation in the life of the church. The church is not God, but we all need love and support and training. This includes gays and lesbians. This includes children and people with various abilities and disabilities. This includes cons, ex-cons, perverts, homeless people, beauty queens, neurotics, psychotics, drop-outs, wash-outs, burn-outs and any other kind of Christian there might be.

3. The Bible is not what you think it is. It is so much more. Or so much less, depending on what you think. For a good book on what it is try here.

4. Love is the most powerful force on earth. If you don’t believe this guy, then try this guy.

5. There are some things about which it is best to dwell in the silent mystery. What about other religions? What about people living in America at the time of Christ? Who is going to heaven? Who is going to hell? We don’t need to have all the answers. We know we are called to show mercy, act justly, and love. Not included in that list is the rampant speculation beyond what has been revealed.

6. Many adults are still bullies. They might not push you down and take your lunch money, but they might preach at you and take your confidence. Parent you and take your sense of adventure. Laugh at you and take your self esteem. Fight back. Today.

7. Some wars are helpful and soldiers are amazing people but the American military-industrial complex is perhaps the largest social cancer there is; a tumor in the armpit of a great country. There is no bigger drain of resources on our country. It is a sacred cow that cannot even be looked at by a budget committee.

8. People have too much stuff. They have so much stuff because they think that it will make them happy. Or because they don’t want to look at how empty they are inside. Get rid of your stuff. Start with your clothes. Or your debt. Or both.

9. Books are awesome. I know that people have various learning styles and that some people are musical or visual or kinesthetic learners, but reading books is still one of the greatest pleasures there is. It is unrivaled even by IMAX 3-D.

10. The National Rifle Association (NRA) is evil.

11. The United States (and Christian Zionist‘s) uncritical support of Israel is misguided and delusional.

12. Your life will be better if you eat less meat. Watch this documentary and tell that it won’t.

13. My wife is the most wonderful person in the world. If you’ve met her, you already know this.

Photo: mpclemens

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Posted in: risk, Theology