Truth or Dare and the Great Divide

Truthby Deana Chadwell    3/22/14
Recall Obama daring to tell O’Reilly that the IRS harbors not a “smidgen of corruption.” Or picture him saying, over and over, “You can keep your plan.” Now hold that thought as you read.

I recently wrote a piece in which I mentioned the huge divide in our national psyche – our great divorce. This needs further discussion because it has deep roots — roots that go all the way back to Lucifer standing in the throne room of God declaring that He could be like The Most High. I don’t see much difference between that and what is metastasizing in modern society — the categorical denial of the existence of Truth.

That denial is at the heart of the impossibility of having a rational discussion about national policy; the left and the right might as well be speaking in different languages. We are no longer a country in which two parties are trying to get to the same place on differing vehicles; we are now traveling down entirely different roads, going in opposite directions and it all revolves around Truth.[pullquote]We are no longer a country in which two parties are trying to get to the same place on differing vehicles; we are now traveling down entirely different roads, going in opposite directions and it all revolves around Truth.[/pullquote]

Time was when we all more or less believed in Truth. We believed in Truth as a concept bigger than all of us, grander than our petty lies. We saw Truth as being attached to God, to His divine veracity, His immutability, His perfect righteousness. We knew that as human beings we weren’t capable of always speaking Truth, we knew we didn’t know all Truth, but we knew that God did. We couldn’t always agree about what was true, but we knew that under all the fuss and bother something was.

Now, part of the country would either deny the existence of Truth or refuse to think about it at all. The rest of us see that as blithering nonsense and watch in dismay as our president makes pig slop out of every truth he runs across and we see his stalwart supporters lay down lie after lie in his defense. To give them credit, they squirm as they do it, but they do it. Such a great gulf has opened between us that there’s no easy jumping back — whole lives have been built on this national denial of the only thing that can save us. Truth.

It’s not hard to understand the drumbeat for relative truth — that point of view has many advantages. For one, it makes everything easier. Tolerance, that tricky balancing act between open-armed acceptance and impatient rejection, becomes a lethargic who-cares-nothing-is-true-anyway, a one-size-fits-all mumu that requires no heavy thinking, no high-wire pacing, no moral stand.

For another, with relative truth there can be no shame because all is permissible. The business world thinks it has prospered under this delusion — no ethics, no limitations, just make the buck. No sin is possible in the Land of the Open Mind (other than to actually believe something is true) because sin is absolute and we can’t have any of that. No sin — no shame; no shame — no guilt; no guilt — no unhappiness. Why didn’t anyone ever tell us that paradise was so simple?

The no-truth philosophy also frees us from having to actually learn anything; nothing is true, so why commit it to memory? Facts are susceptible to interpretation and therefore are probably loaded with bias, and facts are pesky — they might prove a person wrong. (Never mind the inconsistency.) Go ahead, take classes like “Zombies in Popular Media,” or “Elvis as Anthology.” You have your truth and I have mine. Please pass the joint.

And if facts are non-things, then logic isn’t necessary, mental discipline isn’t necessary. Logic is based on the interrelationship between facts and if there are no facts….[pullquote]The no-truth philosophy also frees us from having to actually learn anything; nothing is true, so why commit it to memory? Facts are susceptible to interpretation and therefore are probably loaded with bias…[/pullquote]

The there-is-no-absolute-truth line, even when spoken with sincerity and authority, is a self-refuting statement, but that is of no consequence; there’s room in that philosophy for nonsense — so much room one can embrace it whole-heartedly, with a straight face, and not one quiver of misgiving. After all, there are no rules because nothing is true.

The main problem with this worldview, however, is a doozy: reality doesn’t go away because you cease to recognize its existence. God doesn’t go away because you’re mad at Him, or have convinced yourself that He’s a figment of Christian imagination. He and His eternal Truth hover over us regardless of what silly thing we decide to believe.

And, what’s even more discombobulating, choices have consequences — if we ignore Truth for too long, economies buckle under the strain of pretending there’s a money tree; marriages dissolve whether we think adultery a sin or not; evil is still alive and well in the heart of man even though we paint it a pretty color — evil is evil and people get hurt. During the 20th century tens of millions of people actually died from confusion over this issue.

The permanent part of Truth is not only the nature of God, but also the nature of man. We were made in God’s image — i.e. most of us have mentality, creativity, the ability to love, a conscience, a need for justice, the will and power to work, a sense of our own free will, a respect for — drum roll here — Truth. These are all godly characteristics, and though man has other attributes that are not so laudable, these cannot be erased from the human soul. This has become a key concern for Progressives — the necessity of erasing the divine aspects of the soul; their plans won’t work unless that can be accomplished.

Individual freedom, as our forefathers perceived it, is recognition of these immutable characteristics of mankind; it is a deliberate effort to honor God’s human creation by respecting the volition of humans as a divine gift and providing opportunity for its expression. That has been the formula for creating the most prosperous, inventive, exciting nation to ever grace this earth. The left has to tear away this consequence; they have to lie about America’s success because to accept it would be to admit that their Shangri La is impossible.[pullquote]…maybe we can pretend our way into a utopian world where responsibility and Truth will no longer be necessary… maybe we can make a fantasy reality by passing laws.[/pullquote]

You see, where there is no Truth, there is no purpose. Where there is no purpose, there is little productive activity. Where there is no production there is little of everything and poverty reigns. Where poverty holds sway over the people, they have to believe everything those in power tell them, so the power of the state increases. This vicious cycle continues until it no longer can and even those in control are miserable.

Where Truth is, however, responsibility belongs to everyone and freedom happens, and where freedom happens prosperity blossoms — until people become complacent and start playing with fire – maybe we can pretend our way into a utopian world where responsibility and Truth will no longer be necessary… maybe we can make a fantasy reality by passing laws.

This is the divide in this country — in the world: those who want to live by Truth and all it demands of us, all it will provide, and those who would rather try to run heaven and earth themselves, ignoring the Truth of human nature and the Truth of God Almighty, shouting at Him, “Look, Dad! No hands!”

That’s where we always crash.
__________________________________________________
Deana Chadwell blogs at ASingleWindow.com. • (2330 views)

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Deana Chadwell

About Deana Chadwell

I have spent my life teaching young people how to read and write and appreciate the wonder of words. I have worked with high school students and currently teach writing at Pacific Bible College in southern Oregon. I have spent more than forty years studying the Bible, theology, and apologetics and that finds its way into my writing whether I'm blogging about my experiences or my opinions. I have two and a half moldering novels, stacks of essays, hundreds of poems, some which have won state and national prizes. All that writing -- and more keeps popping up -- needs a home with a big plate glass window; it needs air; it needs a conversation. I am also an artist who works with cloth, yarn, beads, gourds, polymer clay, paint, and photography. And I make soap.
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24 Responses to Truth or Dare and the Great Divide

  1. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    I also liked these quotes:

    “The rest of us see that as blithering nonsense and watch in dismay as our president makes pig slop out of every truth he runs across and we see his stalwart supporters lay down lie after lie in his defense.”

    “Such a great gulf has opened between us that there’s no easy jumping back — whole lives have been built on this national denial of the only thing that can save us. Truth.”

    “This has become a key concern for Progressives — the necessity of erasing the divine aspects of the soul; their plans won’t work unless that can be accomplished.”

    “Individual freedom, as our forefathers perceived it, is recognition of these immutable characteristics of mankind; it is a deliberate effort to honor God’s human creation by respecting the volition of humans as a divine gift and providing opportunity for its expression.”

    “You see, where there is no Truth, there is no purpose. Where there is no purpose, there is little productive activity. Where there is no production there is little of everything and poverty reigns. Where poverty holds sway over the people, they have to believe everything those in power tell them, so the power of the state increases. This vicious cycle continues until it no longer can and even those in control are miserable.”

    • Rosalys says:

      Great article, and so…TRUE!

      “This has become a key concern for Progressives — the necessity of erasing the divine aspects of the soul; their plans won’t work unless that can be accomplished.” This is why Socialism/Communism/Marxism/Progressivism/Facsism – whatever they are calling it on any particular day- is doomed to failure. Reality has a way of raising its ugly head.

      I am in a perpetual state of astonishment that there are so many people who cannot see what is happening. Or is it that they WILL not – I suspect a degree of volition.

  2. steve lancaster says:

    Excellent article Deana. I would add that you can not speak truth to progressives. Their mindset is so deep that truth just bounces off. The US is the last bastion of the Christian West and the ideals that formed almost 2000 years of economic and political growth are on the retreat. In Europe they have reverted to their pagan past. Not long ago Belgium legalized euthanasia not only for consenting adults but for children and no one, even the supposed repository of morality the churches, seems to care. In the US abortion is reaching 56 million killed, Hitler, Eichmann, and Mengele are smiling in hell.

    • Re your remark about speaking truth to progressives — I ran across this the other day —- “Arguing with liberals…it’s like playing chess with a pigeon; no matter how good I am at chess, the pigeon is just going to knock over the pieces, crap on the board and strut around like it’s victorious.” — Anonymous

  3. Timothy Lane says:

    Satan is the Father of Lies, so it’s no surprise that those who wish Evil (e.g., those who exist to rob others, or to control their lives for the sake of power-tripping) would reject the concept of Truth. Of course, in a matter of speaking Slick Barry was telling the truth for once when he said there wasn’t a “smidgen” of corruption at the IRS (or, for that matter, anywhere else in his gangster administration). It’s more like a boatload of corruption.

    But we should also remember that Russian has two words for truth: pravda, meaning dogmatic truth; and istina, meaning factual truth. Notice which one the CPSU used for the name of its newspaper. Modern liberals naturally take their cues from them.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      But we should also remember that Russian has two words for truth: pravda, meaning dogmatic truth; and istina, meaning factual truth.

      I wasn’t aware they had that distinction. So you basically have political truth and real truth. “Political truth” is inherent to the Left as the dominant epistemology.

      Political truth: the earth is warming because of man-made CO2
      The real truth: no it is not

      Political truth: Second-hand smoke is deadly
      The real truth: No, it’s not, although it can stink up your clothes

      Political truth: abortion is about “A woman’s right to choose.”
      The real truth: Abortion is about a woman’s (and man’s) “right” to separate sex from responsibility, passing the costs on to unborn children.

      We’re supposedly living in the age of science and “reason,” and yet that has proven to be no foundation for a good moral order. Bruce Davidson addresses this point obliquely in an article at American Thinker: Are Modern People Morally Advanced?.

      Children are all born with a Leftist moral order. Their moral “God” is “I will.”

  4. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    One of the odd things is that people who believe in no truth (or in political truth, which is much the same thing) tend to fall prey to the observation of Chesterton: “When men choose not to believe in God, they do not thereafter believe in nothing, they then become capable of believing in anything.”

    An internal locus of truth is where a child starts out. “I will” is their center of gravity. No wonder there is some comparison between, say, Hitler and a child caught in the midst of “the terrible two’s.” One of Hitler’s most famous propoganda films (you can stream it on Netflix) is called “Triumph of the Will.”

    The modern Left has this same basic characteristic. Things are not rooted in law, reason, or precedent. Much like a rambunctious child, it is whatever they “will.” That’s really what their chant of “the wrong side of history” means. It means you’re on the wrong side of the mass will.

    But the mass will (or even the singular will) is often a very blind and dumb thing. Science itself could not advance if it gave no notice to something larger than the desires of the individual scientist.

    To say that something is “childish” is to perhaps suggest that it is innocently cute, if a bit misbehaving. But children are little monsters right out of the womb, for the most part. As Thomas Sowell noted, “Each new generation born is in effect an invasion of civilization by little barbarians, who must be civilized before it is too late.” And if they are not, if, instead, their childish instincts are pandered to (as was the entire generation of the Red Diaper Doper Babies), then you don’t necessarily create a monster, per se. It’s that you never created a civilized human being out of the little, natural barbarians.

    This, then, becomes (as it has become) a conflict between two very different worldviews, as outlined by Theodore Dalrymple in “Spoilt Rotten” (a very apt title, you can see). You have the Leftist/Progressive worldview that cites that internally we have all that we need. And if we are deformed in any way, it is the fault of external elements.

    The Judeo-Christian view is just the opposite. It holds to the Sowellian view that we are all born little barbarians who (as Dennis Prager notes) may be born innocent but are not born good. We must be made good.

    So, at heart, the Left is a movement of adults to remain inside their childish (and therefore destructive) impulses. Think how inherently childish, for example, Hillary’s “reset” idea with the Russians was (as well as naive). Kids play games like that. “Okay, now I’ll be the cowboy and you can play the Indian.” You can reset entire worlds using just your imagination. And they do this as a matter of course on the Left now as adults. They are the terrible two’s that never go away.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      I saw Triumph of the Will for one of my college courses on German history, and we discussed it briefly in class. An interesting aspect of this is that while it did reflect the Nazi refusal to surrender to fate, in another sense — that of doing whatever they needed to do to win — it was in fact very inaccurate in the end. Like the Japanese in mid-1942, the Nazis were often too complacent (the downside of their conviction that they couldn’t lose; in fact, the Japanese called it “victory disease”). Note how many of their mistakes basically involved a failure to place winning the war above immediate pleasures (such as looting the occupied countries, exterminating the Jews, etc.).

      Incidentally, in Jim Bunning’s first Senate race (1998), he used Wagnerian music that happened to be used in Leni Riefenstahl’s masterpiece to accompany video of his opponent’s gesticulations while speaking. This of course got him attacked (falsely) for making light of Nazism and comparing his opponent to the Nazis (even though most people listening to the music would have had no idea where it came from; I wouldn’t have recognized it myself after all those years).

  5. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    “Note how many of their mistakes basically involved a failure to place winning the war above immediate pleasures (such as looting the occupied countries, exterminating the Jews, etc.).”

    Speer, among others, made the observation that the assets used for the various concentration and death camps where much needed elsewhere. The railway stock alone could have been used to move troops and material instead of Jews and others. This was particularly important as as the Germans were waging a two front war.

    As for Wagner and the Nazis, poor old Richard died in 1883 so he, of course, had nothing to do with the Nazis. Sadly, because of Riefenstahl’s use of and Hitler’s love of his music, he is still associated with the Nazis, in the minds of many.

    • steve lancaster says:

      Indeed, I believe it was the 1980’s when the ring was performed by the Israeli Philharmonic.

      You know its Wagner when the Opera starts at 7 and 12 hours later its 7:15.

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        PBS broadcast the most recent Met’s Ring Cycle last year. It was pretty wonderful. I’ve been to Bayreuth, but never got to attend the opera.

    • Glenn Fairman says:

      Richard and Cosima Wagner were rabid anti-semites. And this is just a part of what broke up Nietzsche’ alliance with him following The Birth of Tragedy and leading up to Nietzsche Contra Wagner

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        I think Wagner’s movement towards Christian and German nationalistic themes was more important in the split. Nietzsche was upset with Parsifal as it was too Christian for him, a real anti-Christian bigot. Nietzsche notwithstanding, Parsifal is still beautiful.

        Like Hitler, Nietzsche felt Christianity was too soft a religion. As I recall, both admired Islam for its more warlike qualities.

        As for Wagner’s anti-semitism, while it would seem he held views which were not unusual at the time, he also had friends and colleagues who were Jews. He worked closely with Levi for some time. That the general anti-semitism widespread in the Europe of that time (think Dreyfus) could later morf into the rabid anti-semitism of Nazism does not mean Wagner was anything like a Nazi. And I say this even thought I don’t particularly like the man. He must have been insufferable to be around.

        Considering their differences, it is interesting that both Wagner and Nietzsche, were used and admired by the Nazis.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          You’re quite correct that Hitler and the Nazis, though as atheists they rejected all religions (Dr. Kersten found that Himmler was studying the subject in order to create a new religion of Hitler-worship for the future), respected Islam and its concept of jihad. (This military advantage also comes up in Sarkhan by Lederer and Burdick, as an explanation why Muslims fare better in the Sarkhanese army than Buddhists.)

          Daniel Goldhagen argued in Hitler’s Willing Executioners that the “standard” European anti-Semitism was replaced by an eliminationist form, which saw Jews as a cancer to be removed. So even the French anti-Semites who persecuted Dreyfus (and Colonel Picquart, the hero of the story, was probably an anti-Semite himself) in all probability were less evil than the Nazis, though the milder anti-Semitism certainly helped lead to the more severe form.

          Interestingly, in the movie The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, when a Russian diva wants to produce a child using Holmes as sperm donor in order to get his brains and her looks (George Bernard Shaw allegedly rejected such an advance once by wondering what would happen if the child got his looks and her brains), it turns out that she rejected Wagner because he was “too German”.

  6. steve lancaster says:

    I have been to Germany twice, but never to the opera.

    • Glenn Fairman says:

      You should go see a Wagner opera, if not the entire Ring cycle. The German’s sing about God and the Soul, but the Italians sing of love, madness, and infidelity.

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        Tristan und Isolde

      • Timothy Lane says:

        I saw Das Rheingold when they had it on TV as part of running the whole cycle a few decades ago, but there’s that little problem of understanding it (though they did have subtitles). I didn’t watch the rest of the Nibelungenlied.

      • steve lancaster says:

        I suppose I should qualify. I have sat through the entire Ring about 4 times Das Rheingold I think is the best. Some tremendous moments and some tedium. Its a real stretch for my limited German. As for the Italians full of words and music and often symbolizing little.

        • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

          “As for the Italians full of words and music and often symbolizing little.”

          An important distinction should be made. I have used the word opera for Wagner’s work. The Meister would probably smack me upside the head for doing so. He composed Gesamtkunstwerke, total artworks or comprehensive artworks which incorporated music, literature, painting/scenery, myth and acting. There was a meaning to his work, it wasn’t just picking up some words to fit to music.

  7. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    This is a terrific article by Deana. There are three or four points here that are suitable for elaborating to book-length. Each one of these points is like the soil in which a seed is planted (with us being the seed). In good soil (with a good idea), we grow and are nourished. In bad soil the effects of the malnutrition change our potential, turning us into something withering and twisted rather than strong and noble.

    I will never be a Leftist if only because, first if all, I’m not congenitally angry at anyone, or the universe in general. And, second, because the Left is a dead-end — psychologically, metaphysically, and morally — I do not want to plant myself in that rotten soil.

    Whatever one believes about Ultimate truths, Christ is the model for mankind in our Western tradition. You can choose Hugo Chavez, Obama, Jon Stewart, the editorial writers of the New York Times, or any number of things (drugs, sex, tattoos, whatever) as the model for your life. But the soil you plant yourself in makes a difference. And if truth is optional, then one quite literally cannot stretch out one’s vines to the sun. Any direction is equally valid.

    It reminds me of that wonderful (and quite odd) movie, “Being There,” starring Peter Sellers as Chauncey Gardner. Whatever the film makers intended, it is, in some way, an extended version of The Parable of the Sower.

    Chauncey, a slightly “slow” man, is a simpleton gardener and is mistaken as something more. His literal talk about “tilling the soil” and saying such things as “As long as the roots are not severed, all is well, and all will be well in the garden.” are taken not literally, but metaphorically, by the dying old rich man who has taken him into his home. (Suitably, at the end of the movie, Chauncey walks on water.)

    Our lives are enriched and raised above being mere weeds by having noble aims, by having a vidid moral and metaphysical life, by stretching toward the light like one of Chauncey’s favorite flowers. And all this is taken away not only by the cold, unforgiving light of radical materialism, but by a lack of moral imagination.

    Deana shows that strong trait. And lest “moral imagination” be mistaken for “just making things up,” it should be understood as creative insight. It was that kind of insight (coming in a dream) that allowed scientist August Kekulé to come up with the ring shape of the benzene molecule. He had dreamed (or day-dreamed) a snake seizing its own tale.

    When one takes objective truth (Cosmic or otherwise) out of the equation, man is left as an impoverished animal. He cannot know his own world. Radical materialism can in no way be shown to be true. And, logically, it’s obvious that it is not. But that idea is the soil (along with such things as victimhood) that we humans are now being planted in. How odd that this generation of Red Diaper Doper Babies, who want everything to be so “natural,” plant themselves in such artificial plastic.

    • Hmmm…. “moral imagination” — that’s quite a concept, and a compliment I’m humbled to receive. As for books — too many ideas so which to choose? Thanks for your encouragement. dc

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        My money is on:

        maybe we can pretend our way into a utopian world where responsibility and Truth will no longer be necessary… maybe we can make a fantasy reality by passing laws.

        …as the jumping-off point for a book.

        As for moral imagination, I didn’t elaborate much on that. But our other kinds of imagination have great utility. It is man’s ability to find hidden relationships in disparate things that makes him clever. Could a rock or a frog ever partake in moral thought?

        But surely such things as morals exist. It’s not something manufactured by our “creativity.” It’s uncovered, just as entire systems of mathematics are uncovered by imaginative (and brainy) work. But did we invent these complex mathematics or were they there built into the very structure of the universe? It must be the latter, of course.

        But to find these things takes a creative mind. And that includes the moral imagination. And this is especially true in regard to the fact of atheists and their walling themselves off from a rich variety of human and important thought.

        My well-considered opinion, based upon lots of interaction with these types, is that their belief system actually shrinks back their most powerful and noble human abilities. Atheists and those whose conceit is they are guided by “reason” run screaming from any kind of metaphysics that goes beyond the radically material.

        But the world itself is much more metaphysically rich than the radically material, and obviously so. So you have entire groups of people impoverishing themselves. No wonder their morals, such as they are, consist of little more than slogans that would fit on a bumper sticker. And so when an atheist state goes rogue and starts killing its own people, you see the result of having, in effect, a retarded (literally) moral system.

        And we see this time and again from the Left. They cannot think their way out of a wet paper bag, thus the pigeon-and-chess analogy is perfect. That’s what is developed (or not developed) in a human being with no moral imagination. Nor could an author write a book worthy of reading without literary imagination, and that goes for both fiction and non-fiction. And as a great scientist such as Richard Feynman showed, great science cannot be done without a lively imagination either.

        The creative act is extremely important in processing, presenting, and understanding our world in all its facets, from the hard sciences to the pursuits of philosophy, ethics, and religion. And that imagination is being killed by everything from television to the typical “Progressive” politics-based sloganeering which substitutes for thinking.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      A minor correction: Sellers’s character in Being There identified himself as “Chance, a gardener” but was misheard as “Chauncey Gardiner”.

      As for not being a leftist, merely believing in individual freedom (especially the right to dissent) is enough to prevent any sympathy for that fascist ideology.

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