Wax Lips and Truthiness

IT’S NO COMFORT TO ME to know that every last one of you reading these words is a liar. Don’t be insulted—and for sure, don’t even try to deny it—to me, or to yourself. You’re a liar—and so am I.

Lying is part of being a sinful, selfish human being. Lying is lurking there from the moment we’re born (and don’t try to derail me here into some egghead discussion on the doctrine of original sin).

My name’s Ken—and I’m a liar. And it would take more than a 12-Step Liars Anonymous to cure me.

I remember the first time I lied and knew it. Believe it or not, it took me till the first grade. Down the hill from our church school was a little mom-and-pop corner store. This was long before 7-11s even existed.

We weren’t permitted to go down there to buy things during school hours. But one day during recess, I walked down there anyway. On the way walking to school earlier that morning (I lived reasonably close to school), I stopped in—and there I saw something I had to have: a pair of bright red wax lips. They had a little thingie on the back that I could stick in my mouth and bite down on—and then entertain my classmates with my new look.

I don’t know where I got the pennies for it, as I don’t remember getting an allowance at that age. But up on the playground, my classmates responded just as I had hoped and dreamed they might—and some good laughs were had by all.

Until, that is, Miss Sparks happened by and asked where I’d gotten my new wax lips.

“I found them on the way to school,” I prevaricated.

“Are you sure you didn’t get them down at the store?” she persisted.

“No,” I assured her.

She seemed to buy it. But my conscience protested immediately and just wouldn’t give it a rest. Finally, I went to Miss Sparks alone and confessed. I don’t know whether or not she used her “policeman,” as she called it (a rubber hose for brief whippings that today would have her behind bars for abuse, I’m sure). But even if she did, it was better to feel the pain externally than internally.

I wish I could say that was the end of my breaking the ninth commandment. Alas, bending, stretching, or even dragging the truth in the mud would recur later in life. The results have ranged from mild to disastrous. Maybe the only good thing I have to say for myself is that when I mess up, my conscience still won’t give me a pass till I make it right.

What brought on this reflection on truth and lies? It came to mind as I read of one of those little flaps between presidential candidates reported today. Seems in a debate, they were asked to name their biggest weakness.

One said his biggest weakness was having a powerful response to seeing pain in others. Another said it being impatient to bring change to America. A third, who had actually answered first, made the mistake of taking the question at face value and said something about having a messy desk and not being good at paperwork.

Responding empathetically to others’ pain is weakness? Being impatient to make positive changes is weakness? If the truth hasn’t been broken here—at least it’s been bent into what Stephen Colbert might call “truthiness.”

We’re all in the same boat down here. Liars through and through. White lies. Black lies. Lies that are laughable—and lies that are lethal.

The only solution for this—and all other evidences of our basic sinfulness—is the power and pardon of Jesus. Pardon for our sins and our sinfulness—and power to change. That change happens as we spend increasing time beholding—and in the company of—“The Way, the Truth, and the Life.”

In 2008, I’m trying to make that a greater priority than ever.

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by jessm9 on January 19, 2008 at 2:38 pm

    Ken-

    I did not know of any other way to communicate with you, but I thought you may be interested in an independent film I recently saw titled: “Article VI: Faith, Politics, America.” The film was directed by Bryan Hall and Jack Donaldson. It is an intense discussion of the role of faith in politics. And this film explores all faiths and perspectives. The title is taken from Article Six of the United States Constitution: “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”

    Well the film will be live streaming on http://www.article6themovie.com all day today, no cost associated!

    Hopefully you can see it, because I would love to hear what you think about it.

    Reply

  2. Thanks for the link, Jess. I am interested in faith, politics, and the connection between the two.

    However, in following the link you provided, I found I could not view the movie unless I provided my name and email address first.

    There is only one reason for that requirement….to be placed on someone’s mailing list…someone with an agenda. I do not want follow-up contact.

    In addition, since I live in an early-voting state, and one of the directors of this movie is Mormon, no matter how objective the presentation, I rather suspect a pro-Mormon Mitt Romney agenda is at least partially driving this movie. I’m not anti-Romney…I respect anyone’s freedom to choose their faith. But I am pro-another candidate, for whom I will vote. Further, your WordPress-supplied return address shows a Utah location, further confirming to me that this is a Mormon-driven effort.

    Finally, since I do not personally know you or anything about you, the timing of your message suggests to me that mine is simply among a list of religious blogs you’re targeting with this notice.

    For these reasons, I’ll pass.

    Reply

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