We are living in a world where everything has changed and we have no sure footing. It’s postmodern, post Christian, post truth. This is particularly troubling for people whose business is Truth, a Truth that promises its adherent, freedom.
How are we to conduct our business in a post-truth world where the currency of communication is lies, equivocation and ambiguity? This is not an academic exercise, the quest for a way of serving Truth in a time of lies has deep and far-reaching implications for our relationships and for the comfort and ease of our being in the world.
In this dispensation, our reflex is to mistrust everything, authority figures in Church, State and any institution, even the family. We presume malintent before we even hear the story through, latching on to the hashtag, the tagline, the slogan and so escaping the responsibility of thought.
Fake news may be a new label, but in our mauvais langue society, this penchant for spreading falsehood with embellishments is plotted into our DNA.
Interestingly, the pronouncements of the purveyors of fake news are never good news—premature announcements of death, judgements of guilt before the matter is ventilated in the courts, ascriptions of motives on the basis of imaginings. How can we work our way back to the service of Truth?
Freedom is a frightening responsibility; we are not sure that we really want to be free. So it is easier to repeat readymade choruses than to undertake the work of assembling facts, placing them in the light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and acting out of love.
Living the truth takes time, time to reflect before we rush to judgemental pronouncements, blaming and criticism. It requires silence in which discernment and wisdom can percolate. But this will mean unlatching from all the Apps that make us less apt for human interaction. And if we cannot repeat the latest sound bite that passes for opinion, we may look mookish, out of the loop! And that is worse than death!
Of course it is tempting to try to retreat into any of the various forms of escapism that would help us sidestep the Truth and its difficult discipleship. There’s the cult of the body—we care for the temple of our body, “my one asset” with exercise and diet and treatments, so we don’t have to face the world outside.
There are the spiritual binges, programmes and fasts and devotions that would also shield us from the pain of the world. This is the latest cliché offered in the face of awful and terrifying tragedy that calls into question the very meaning of our existence “Our thoughts and prayers are with you” … Next…
But we are living in the world, in a society, to the creation of which we have contributed.