The #MeToo movement brought needed light to the darkness of sexual abuse and assault, and underscored a dark principle of human nature: people will often try to get away with whatever they think they can. The public unveiling of sexual selfishness and other evils that typically accompany this brand of egocentrism invites all of us to consider what is good, and why we should do it.
Plato tells a parable of a man who discovers a ring that makes its wearer invisible. With this newfound power, the man kills the king and takes the queen for himself. The ring represents the ability to do whatsoever a person would like to do without accountability (visibility). The point of the parable is that a person will do whatever is in his or her self-interest if there is no accountability. J.R.R. Tolkien later borrowed the ring of invisibility metaphor, offering an alternative interpretation. The power of no accountability (invisibility) was supremely corrupting, but there was a source of goodness that would lead some to destroy the temptation to do wrong when no one was watching, and so [spoiler alert] the one ring to rule them all was destroyed in the fires of Mt. Doom. But what is that source of goodness?
From The Cripplegate, with permission. By Jordan Standridge
Let me tell you about a gospel conversation I had recently that left an impression on my heart.
Tim was a very polite guy.
He was cordial and respectful. He listened carefully and was obviously raised well by his parents. He was well dressed and was very articulate. Tim was also very religious.
I start off every conversation with the same question I ask everyone, “If it applies, what are two reasons you stopped going to church?” Tim answered that he goes to Catholic mass every week.
So I asked him my second question, “Coming from a Catholic perspective, what would you say the gospel is?” He said it was the Bible. When I asked him what the “good news” of the gospel was, he said that it was the possibility to live a better life and to go to Heaven.
So I asked him a third question, and I let him know that I ask this question in order to really get to the heart of what someone believes about how they are going to Heaven. I asked him, “If you were to die tonight, and were to stand before God, and He were to ask you why should I let you into Heaven? What would you say?” He thought about it for a few seconds and said, “I don’t think I’d say anything. I would expect the Lord to know whether I deserve Heaven or not.”
A pastor friend mentioned some folks who left his church, unhappy because the church used animated Bible stories with their youth. They complained that those videos distorted the Bible and made light of Scripture. The couple finally left the church. But the church they began attending used the same videos, even more frequently than the first.
Why did this couple rant and rave about videos in one church and turn a blind eye to the same videos in another? Because their faultfinding was insincere, trumped up—and not really about the videos themselves. That was merely the pretext.
We are born with a propensity to lie to ourselves and to others. Dostoyevsky wrote, “Lying to ourselves is more deeply ingrained than lying to others.” I agree. I witness this in myself, and I see it in others. Our personal pride masks this “lying to self” propensity. Jeremiah 17:9 puts it this way (ESV): “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?”
(From Oct. of 2012)
Why are some people so eager to call others’ inaccurate statements “lies”?
Since we’re not far from another national election, the word “lie” is, as usual, getting an intense workout. But this phenomenon isn’t unique to election year politics. Over and over, and in a variety of settings, I’ve observed this: people encounter what they see as falsehood and immediately leap to the judgment that someone is lying—and say so.
I’ve always found this behavior puzzling, and sometimes head-against-wall maddening. Are these accusers unable to see that everyone (including themselves) is sincerely wrong about one thing or another nearly all the time? Have they managed to miss the memo that to err is human?
Maybe it’s a failure to adjust for bias. Do they believe that if they dislike someone, or strongly disapprove of his ideas or actions, they are entitled to judge his character by a completely different standard than they use against themselves? Do they not realize that if they want others to judge their character generously, they should judge the character of others generously?
Or do they just not know what a lie really is?
One of the first rules of Appalachia is never mess with a drunken redneck.
I was reminded of this just a few days ago. It was Sunday evening around 6:30 and my husband and I had decided to take our kids up to the playground of their elementary school. Normally, we’d be at prayer meeting at this time, but today was Homecoming Sunday. We’d already spent the majority of the day at church, enjoying worship, dinner on the grounds, and homegrown music. Everyone needed the evening to decompress, and the playground and walking track sounded perfect.
As we stepped out the door to get in our van, we noticed a rusty, white Ford Explorer parked on the edge of our property. A solidly-built man in his mid-to-late forties was walking around one of our trees and seemed to be sizing it up. He was wearing cargo shorts, a dirty cut-off t-shirt, and somehow managed to have a long, straggly ponytail and a shaved head simultaneously. He was accompanied by a younger man, a copy of himself, minus the ponytail.