Steve McEllistrem

The Devereaux Dilemma

Faith vs. Truth

When we discover a “truth” we want to tell the world about it, for we are excited that we’ve learned this new thing and we want others to share our excitement. And sometimes, that’s a good thing. But sometimes it isn’t.

When we discover that we can save money on fuel by going to a gas station not too far away and we tell our friends and family about it, that’s a good thing.

When we discover that we’ve been wasting resources by taking extra-long, hot showers or mowing the lawn more often than we need to or heating our house to a comfortable temperature even when we’re not home, then it behooves us and our social network to point out the fact so that others can learn from it.

However, when we discover a “truth” like religion and become born again and decide to share that truth with others, we have a tendency to bore or irritate or offend.

Partly this is because religion is (or at least should be) personal.

Partly it’s because we tend to be too enthusiastic in our sharing, assuming everyone will want to know the good news because we’ve become infatuated by it.

And partly it’s because truth like this isn’t truth at all – not to denigrate it, but religion isn’t truth.

It’s faith. It’s belief.

It may be a particularly strong faith. We may be certain our religion is correct based on our reading of holy texts and conversations with holy people and reports of miracles and such, but the fact is that religion isn’t about truth – other than personal, internal truth – the truth of self-knowledge. It’s about using myths and lore and legend to make sense of our lives when we can’t otherwise make sense of them.

If we find truth in religion, if we find meaning where once there was none, yay for us. But the idea that everyone else must share that internal truth is folly. And it’s dangerous. Let’s keep our religion to ourselves.

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