from calvin and hobbes

"'The Dynamics of Inter-Being and Mono Logical mperatiives in Dick and Jane:
A Study in Psychic Transrelational Gender Modes.'

Academia, here I come."

wise words from jim winkler

Perception vs. Truth
By Jim Winkler, General Secretary, General Board of Church & Society

I read a news report recently in which an Ohio voter declared that he’s not sure what to believe. The voter said he has heard repeatedly that Barack Obama is a Muslim, was born in Africa and is hostile to the American flag. The refusal of people who are perpetuating these lies to stop doing so is creating confusion in this Ohio voter and, no doubt, many others — which, of course, is their goal.

Two of history’s most notorious figures recognized the power to accomplish political goals through perpetuating a lie often enough. “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it,” said Joseph Goebbels, the minister in charge of Nazi propaganda under Adolph Hitler. And Vladimir Lenin, who masterminded the Bolshevik take-over of Russia in the early 20th century, said, “A lie told often enough becomes truth.”

If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.

Whoever is perpetuating the Obama lies is counting on voters exemplifying the opinion stated this spring by a United Methodist General Conference delegate in the Church & Society legislative committee: “Facts don’t sway me none.”

On the same day, I read a news report on the sixth inauguration of Robert Mugabe as president of Zimbabwe. Mugabe lost the first round of elections, changed the results to “prove” his competitor did not win 50% of the vote, arranged for the slaughter of dozens of his opponent’s supporters, forced the withdrawal of his opponent, claimed victory in the runoff, then condemned his opponents in his inaugural address.

Again on that same day, the news reported the United States has ramped up covert operations in Iran. The covert operations in that troubled country would include spying and supporting rebel groups in order to generate turmoil. Meanwhile, Israel, Vice President Cheney and dozens of members of Congress continue to issue insane threats to bomb Iran, a course of action that would lead to another war.

Inquisitiveness and enthusiasm for learning are crucial whether it has to do with world affairs or our faith.

The Ohio voter doesn’t know how to separate fact from fiction. President Mugabe changed the facts to suit his purposes. Vice President Cheney and his colleagues are unwilling to face the facts.

Life can be difficult and confusing. At times the truth is hard to get at. I believe it is incumbent upon each of us to be aware of the world around us. Inquisitiveness and enthusiasm for learning are crucial whether it has to do with world affairs or our faith.

I keep a ridiculously high stack of books on various topics on my bedside table. I love discovering new insights in scripture and perspectives on theology.

Too many people have a kindergarten faith. They learned a few scripture passages in Sunday School and know little else. One pastor told me she led a Bible study that included background to the historical and social circumstances taking place during a period of Jesus’ life. A participant in the study told her: “I just like to read the words of Jesus. I don’t really want to know all this information.”

Too many people have a kindergarten faith.

You may have heard about Jay Leno’s survey of members of the Tonight Show audience. None could name one of the 12 apostles, but everyone knew the names of the four Beatles.

It always amazes me when I meet people who obviously don’t pay attention to what is going on in the world, but are nevertheless eager to express their opinion. At the same time, I know that many others feel beaten down, disheartened by the course of life. Too often, they are hungry, poor and sick. Many feel powerless and disenfranchised about life.

There’s no easy answer to these sad realities. Once you know something about the injustices surrounding you, failure to act is irresponsible.

The citizens of Nazi Germany learned that the hard way. After the war, millions claimed they didn’t know what was happening in their own country. They may have been fearful. They may have tried to ignore reality, but they knew something bad was happening — even with Goebbel’s masterful lying.

Disease, poverty, war, violence, hunger, racism and other social ills confront us. Don’t bury your head in the sand. Seek the truth. Pay attention, please. Follow Jesus and get to work.