Tuesday between January 2 and Epiphany

Lectionary: 206


If you consider that God is righteous,
you also know that everyone who acts in righteousness is begotten by him.



In times of deep division bordering on civil war, many people volunteer to act as mediators, hoping to forestall unnecessary and futile violence. I have often heard of such movements in Northern Ireland and Israel. They are operating here in the United States as well.
The point at issue today considers “facts” and “fake news.” Facebook, Twitter and other social media have inadvertently created a blinding blizzard of mischievous stories, “shared” by naïfs, idlers and state-sponsored liars.
Recently I saw a “photo” of the president-elect and “Hannibal Lector,” an imaginary character from the movie, “The Silence of the Lambs.” The man-eating villain was being appointed as secretary of Health and Human Services. I recognized a creative prank; some people will swear it is true.
Fact or fiction? Harmless entertainment or diabolical rumor-mongering? If some people believe this story, what protocol, system or organization will set them straight?
When the story went out that presidential candidate Mitt Romney had driven several hundred miles with his family in the car and their dog on the roof, many imagined the poor creature was hanging on by his leash. Of course, that wasn’t true; he was safely stowed in a comfortable cage, sheltered against the wind. How many votes did that cost the Republican candidate? Why wasn’t the misunderstanding immediately addressed and corrected?
The liberal press – which opposed Romney -- expects fact-checkers to do this service but facts are notoriously unreliable. It was a fact the dog was on the roof. How much more should have been said? Should the reporter have explained this minor detail? How many details should we demand of every “fact.” Who in his right mind would suppose the Mormon family man was mistreating the family pet like that? 
The word fact comes from the Latin word facere, as in factorymanufacture, facile and artifice. Facts are tools manufacture to serve another purpose. They always have a context; they never stand alone. Is it a fact that cholesterol is bad for you? 

Organized systematically facts support hypotheses and theories, which are also notoriously undependable. Professionals who deal in facts – i.e., scientists – expect them to change and evolve. Most are eventually replaced with better facts, hypotheses and theories.  


People like to quote President John Adams who said, "Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence. 
But all the facts in the world don’t add up to the Truth, and they’re often used to hide the truth. They can be used to great effect to destroy very good people. 
To avoid another civil war, we must cling to the Truth. She is not a fact, she is revealed to those who love her. She is approached with humility, courage and an open heart. No one owns the Truth; she is not controlled, manipulated or dominated by anyone or by any group of people. 
Rather, the Truth seeks open, courageous, humble people who are willing to serve her. They must prepare to love her with all their heart, soul, mind and strength. They should expect to make many sacrifices with little recognition. Those who serve Truth may hope to survive the coming storm.

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I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

You're welcome to add a thought or raise a question.