Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Shifting Sands

Here's what happens when we try to have truth without faith, without that something that is just as certain of the existence of what it doesn't know as what it does: we end up with a truth that is constantly changing. 

It has to change - because we change. Because we are exposed to different and new things all the time. We are constantly gathering data as we encounter and experience our lives. There are things that I know today that I didn't know last week or last year or last decade. By necessity, then, my "truth" today is different than it was yesterday. And it will be different again tomorrow. 

This not only makes life challenging for us; it makes life challenging for everyone with whom we are in relationship. They cannot know for certain who we are from one day to the next because we are constantly changing. We do not have a truth to ground us; rather, we have chosen to ground our truth in us - and that means that our truth is changing as we are changing, and ironically, when our truth changes, it changes us all over again. There's nothing to anchor us anywhere; we are adrift in a sea of data about our human existence. 

What's strangest, perhaps, about this is that we both know that it is true and at the same time, completely deny its reality. We constantly believe that the truth that we have right now is the whole truth, the real truth, the constant truth, even though we understand that it is only because our truth has changed over time that we have come to the point of truth that we're living right now. We know that we have learned something that has brought us to this understanding, and yet, we constantly believe that this is our final understanding and that we are never going to learn anything else ever again. 

We always believe we have learned everything that we need to know, and then we learn something new and we are so foolish as to believe that now, we have learned everything that we need to know. Every new piece of truth is somehow the last piece of our puzzle...until it isn't and then, for sure, this new piece is the last piece. 

Until it isn't. 

Yet still, we are unwilling to concede that truth must exist somewhere outside of us if it is to be meaningful and stable and valuable at all. Rather, we continue to believe that we are sole proprietors of truth eternal and that it is ours for the taking (and even for the making). 

This is what truth without faith does to us. In our failure to acknowledge any reality outside of our own experience of it, we have reduced ourselves to a constantly-changing existence that might mean something entirely different tomorrow than it does today. (This is how, by the way, we keep coming up with the "brilliant" idea of holding history to our contemporary understanding of truth.) 

Without the ability to understand that truth is grounded in something greater than us, that it exists beyond what we get to live of it, that there are always things that we simply do not know, we have no foundation on which to stand. We are leaves blowing in the wind. Blades of grass that are here today, there tomorrow, and gone by next week. 

And at the same time, a strange confession creeps in. Something so bizarre that it's almost irreconcilable with this notion of truth that we carry, except that we have made it somehow to be so. What is that? 

I'll tell you tomorrow. 

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