Wednesday, March 26, 2003

"What is truth?"

Cathedral of Hope Prayer Ministry
Devotion for March 25, 2003

In times past, it was not unusual to walk into a meat department and see a drawing of a cow with its various parts labeled. This is where you get round steaks -- this is where T-bones come from -- and so forth. I haven't seen one of those drawings for years. At some point the people who run supermarkets discovered that we don't really want to know how the anatomy of a cow relates to those pretty packages in the meat department. We don't want to think about it. We just want to buy our
dinner and take it home.

I guess the media people who cover wars have discovered the same thing. When the government hires a P.R. firm to come up with a theme for wars - "Operation Iraqi Freedom," and campaign descriptors "Shock and Awe," it is clear that selling the war has high political value. And according to most polls, Americans are buying. So why is it I have the same feeling in the pit of my stomach that I used to get when I saw those cigarette commercials which claimed their product tasted "smooth," "cool"
or "refreshing?" Of course, that marketing campaign worked well too. Half of all Americans bought it at some point in their lives, even though the package warned of dire consequences.

All of this leaves me asking the same question Pilate asked Jesus, "What is truth?"

Lent continually calls us to be more introspective and honest. The most dangerous people around are those who do not know the depths of their self-deception. A recent conflict with one such person left me and those around me deeply scarred. Many a night I asked God why such people didn't come with warning labels. The trouble is, self-deceived people are so good at deceiving others because they believe their own press. They can make you believe hamburger grows on trees because they really
believe it themselves. They can make people rally around the cause because they are themselves convinced the cause is just.

No doubt Judas believed he was doing what was right, moral and good. The High Priest was clear, "It is better that one person die than the whole nation perish." Those who destroyed Jesus were convinced that theirs was the way of righteousness. When my District Superintendent in the Methodist Church asked me to resign, he said it was the moral thing to do. I think of him every time I mount my moral high horse.

I want to live with confidence and conviction...but I pray that God will never let me forget that when I am self-deceived, I am the last one to know. Perhaps grace is the better path...just in case hamburger really does grow on trees.

PRAYER: O you who are amazing Grace, possess our souls so completely that we can risk new levels of honesty and self-disclosure. When we encounter those who would "sell" us that which is not true, renew our humility. Help us to remember that only One has lived who was The Truth, and WE are not the One. It is in that name that we offer ourselves vulnerably to you. Amen.

Michael Piazza, Dean
Cathedral of Hope


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