Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Truth and Nothing But the Truth

Show of hands.  How many of you have watched the I Love Lucy show?
Keep up your hands up, I'm counting.
Thank you.

For those of you who have watched the show, whether in the original viewing or in reruns, how many of you remember the episode where Lucy makes a bet with Ricky, Ethel and Fred that she can tell nothing but the truth for a certain amount of time?  Apparently Lucy's little white socially acceptable lies were getting out of hand.  And the three stooges -- I mean Ricky, Ethel and Fred -- feel pretty confident that Lucy won't be able to hack it.  So they ask her pointed questions, questions that force her to tell the truth, trying to trick her. 

But Lucy surprises them all.  She not only tells the truth, she relishes it.  And they all feel the sting of her truthful words.  Because not only does she stop the white lying, she feels no compunction or hesitation about telling them the truth she feels about each of them.

I've never spent too much time in deep reflection about the I Love Lucy show other than to periodically cringe at the uncomfortable gender stereotypes it reinforced.  Yet I can't get this particular episode out of my mind.  I guess it's because I'm wrestling with my understanding of truth.

Sometimes I think we take the I Love Lucy approach to truth.  Truth telling as we see it is really just stating our opinions about other people.  And I know that truth and fact are often forced into a synonymous relationship, whether they should be or not.  But I know for a fact, no pun intended, that the facts and truth are two very different things.

Joe Friday asked for just the facts, but I want to dig a little deeper.  I want to know what is true.

Why am I wrestling with this?  It seems to me that whenever we go through a time of great change, of transition, this metaphysical conundrum rears its ambiguous head.  I'm meeting new people everyday.  I tell them facts about myself.  "I'm the new pastor at the Presbyterian Church."  "I'm here from Iowa."  "I have a family.  One husband, two kids, one dog, a house full of stuff."

Those are my facts, but what is my truth?  Do I have secret or not so secret dreams, ambitions, hopes, fears?  What is the journey that brought me here, to this place and to this time?  And before this gets too "I" centered, what is the truth about the people I meet?  What differences are there between the persona we present to the world and the truth of the person we are?  What is our truth?

Back in the 90's Alanis Morrissette put out an album entitled Jagged Little Pill.  I loved it then.  I love it now.  Every time I turned on the radio I heard another single that seemed to have been dredged up from her very soul  rather than written from a creative place in her brain.  Watching a mini documentary on her life, she spoke about this album as the vehicle for speaking her truth.  That's what she did on that album.  She spoke her truth.  I guess deep down that's what I'm trying to do, speak my truth.  Maybe you're trying to do it too.

John Keats wrote, "Beauty is truth, truth beauty -- that is all Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know." Ode on a Grecian Urn

Is it?

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