The Truth Will Make Us Free: Pulpit and Pew Speak to 2020 Presidential Hopefuls (part 1)

Excerpts from today’s spiritual reflections at Silverside Church Delaware, March 3, 2019

David Albert Farmer, Ph.D., Preacher and Pastor

Dear 2020 Presidential Hopefuls: Please do not lie to us during your campaigns. To the one of you who wins, please tell us the truth for the totality of your presidency; and require each member of your cabinet and other staff to do the same.

“Occasionally, words must serve to veil the facts.” This is part of some advice Niccolò Machiavelli once gave to a diplomat by the name of Girlami. Machiavelli, the Italian politician in the early swirl of the Florentine Renaissance, is regarded by many in the field of political science as the parent of the modern expression of their discipline.

Politics have no relation to morals.

Machiavelli

A gifted writer in more than one field, his most highly regarded work—politically and literarily—is titled The Prince. In this work he said outright, “Politics have no relation to morals.” Well, politicians lying to us today have someone on whom to blame their practices…other than themselves! Machiavelli!

Dr. Howard Gardner is the brilliant educational psychologist at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. I don’t think the ramifications of his understanding of multiple intelligences have even begun to be explored. His interests are broader than those though. In 2011, another of Dr. Gardner’s books was published, Truth, Beauty, and Goodness Reframed: Educating for the Virtues in the Age of Truthiness and Twitter.

There are some transcripts of lectures he gave when the book was new in which Dr. Gardner contrasted the public trust once broadly placed in certain twentieth century newscasters, such as Murrow and Cronkite, with the cynicism audiences today, who are, he said, “more ​skeptical than previous generations and more likely to get their news from late night comedians…. While audiences of an earlier era might have been satisfied by Cronkite’s nightly affirmation, ‘That’s the way it is,’ audiences of today are more inclined to embrace a term popularized by Colbert to highlight the subjectivity behind political constructions of reality: ‘truthiness.’” Truthiness may not be true at all.

Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”

Fourth Gospel, chapter 8, verses 31-32, New Revised Standard translation

“Truth” (aletheia, ἀλήθεια) in Koine Greek (the common language Greek into which the Gospels were translated for distribution away from the land in which Jesus lived and the Aramaic he spoke): what is verifiably factual, the state of being evident, disclosure–more particularly, the state of not being hidden, unclosedness, unconcealednness

“Make [you] free” (eleutherosei, ἐλευθερώσει) in Christian scripture Greek language: to be liberated from the control of others, to have restrictions removed, to be made exempt from liability

Jesus promised truth to others like him who had never experienced a minute of political freedom in a lifetime and never would. So we know he wasn’t talking about political freedom. That is icing on the pita.

There is no freedom of any kind without truth.

Those of us in the US should live as free people set free by truth, and given the gifts of democracy we should vote only for truth-tellers.​

Are you a politician or does lyin’ just run in your family?

Idgie Thornegoode to Frank Bennett in Fannie Flagg’s Fried Green Tomatoes
Mary Stuart Masterson as Idgie and Nick Searcy as Frank

It is much better to live truth throughout one’s life than to have to pick it up as a habit after having lived by lies. This week was a sight to behold on Capital Hill: liars questioning liars about lies and liars. Which was which?

Lying cannot liberate. Liars lose their freedoms, and so do those who trust the liars.

No legacy is so rich as honesty.

Shakespeare

Someone has said, “Once you start telling lies, all your truths become questionable.” Shakespeare said, “No legacy is so rich as honesty.” But again it was ​Jesus who said, “Unconcealedness will eventually liberate us.”

Amen.