Morning Thanks

Garrison Keillor once said we'd all be better off if we all started the day by giving thanks for just one thing. I'll try.

Friday, December 02, 2016

Our post-truth world

I don't want to think it was always this way, but maybe it was. I'm enough of a Calvinist to believe that even our fanciest duds are filthy rags--and that the only way we wash up clean is an eternal love far beyond our means and grasp, a God of grace who stoops to conquer. 

Maybe it was always this way. Could be. Think about it: what was going on in Jerusalem a couple thousand years ago had Pilot's head spinning. "What is truth?" he asked Jesus. Ever wonder what tone of voice he used? Was he pleading? sincere? I don't think so. I think he was exasperated. That overheated crowd of choleric Jews outside his window made no sense. "What the heck is truth anyway?" he might well have intoned. "Sheesh." 

Maybe lying is a constant we've always lived with. I'll buy that. 

But it sure seems that right now there's more of it. 

After all, the people who create Oxford dictionaries determined that their Word-of-the-Year this year is the hyphenated rookie "post truth," an adjective to which they've given this meaning: "relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief."

This year, they say, that yearling word created a life all its own. 

Now to those of you who believe that what I'm saying is just the prelude to some "dump Trump" effort, Oxford had more in mind, specifically a 2000% rise in the use of that word "in the context of the EU referendum in the United Kingdom." They also mentioned the U. S. Presidential sweepstakes.

Hillary's about-face on the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreements, supporting them as models for opening markets around the world before the primaries, then doubling back and stomping on them once she realized Bernie was painfully close to taking out her achilles tendons--that's vintage post-truth too.  

And what are we to make of former Presidential candidate Mitt Romeny. Just six weeks ago, Donald Trump was "a sniveling coward," and "a serial philanderer" as "entertainer-in chief." Little more than a month ago, he was "a con-man"; yesterday, Trump was the man who can lead America "to a better future."

But the President-elect himself is Prime Minister of the post-truth world. After the election he tweeted that millions of people in this country voted illegally--millions. When all kinds of people, Republican and Democrat, laid bare the silliness of that claim, his staff put out a 42-page catalog of facts that proved nothing at all but supposedly documented the truth of his word. It failed. Our President-to-be flat-out lied.

Maybe you've seen the CNN segment in which Allison Camerota asks a gallery of long-time Trump supporters about the election. Incredibly, they simply repeat the President-Elect's allegations, convinced they're right--millions of people in this country having voted illegally, all of them, one would suppose, for Hillary. When Ms. Camerota asks them where they heard it, they said, simply, "the media." 

And when they insist President Obama had deliberately and specifically instructed undocumented workers to go to the polls and vote, the CNN panel claimed they discovered that he did it on-line. 

Allison Camerota couldn't believe it. "Where?" she said. 

"Just google it," one of them insisted. 

This old Calvinist finds that scary.

Yesterday, one of the President-Elect's long-time surrogates told a panel on NPR's The Diane Rehm Show that there's a whole new world order right now: “One thing that’s been interesting this entire campaign season to watch is that people that say facts are facts. They’re not really facts,” Scottie Nell Hughes said. “It’s kind of like looking at ratings or looking at a glass of half-full water. Everybody has a way of interpreting them to be the truth or not true. There’s no such thing, unfortunately, anymore as facts.”

I guess that's the brave new world. 

What the heck is truth anyway, right?


Doug Calsbeek said...

The trouble with a post-truth society is that the hard work of getting to the truth is made much, much harder since we'll have to wade through a bunch of B.S. before we can start getting to the truth.
It's going to be exhausting work.

Anonymous said...

We have also seen this, the lack of truth, the false stories, not knowing if what you are reading is truth or false. Depending on what TV news station you listen to, it is more likely to help you determine if you believe it or not. I read a lot of news on the web as we don't have a TV and come away saying: I read it on the web, but I don't know if it is true or not, it could be BS, it could be half and half, it could be true, time will tell. It seems like the time of the Judges,"And they all did what was right in their own eyes!" Last night I found an article on the computer that connected Sr. Bush and Nixon and others to the murder of JF Kennedy, true or false? Years ago, you were thought to be off your rocker if you believe there was a different story than what the government told us. Today it is accepted that there was more than one shooter. What can you believe when the government lies to you? It makes you question more and believe less of what they tell you. It is not uncommon to now ask why do they want me to believe this? What is the real truth? I used to respect the Bushes and now I see them not much different than I see the Clintons. What a tangled web we weave...We need the Holy Spirit to convict men of sin, and turn their lives to one of obedience to God!

ronvdm said...

Gen. Flynn's son seems to be a devotee of "preferred lies".

Jerry27 said...

I used the library loan system in Lake Park IA to get Ellul's book Propaganda. I was amused to get a well worn copy from Mornigside College in Sioux City. Apparantly the noisy Calvinsits is Sioux county are not as generous with their books as the Methodists are farther south.

According to Ullul, the high priests of propaganda are still able to keep the dumb Yank in a blood thirsty rage and point him in the wrong direction.