Friday, October 1, 2010

The Truth Shall Set You Free

What is truth? If I want to inspire authors to write the truth, I should understand its properties. We should have a mutual understanding of its definition.

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, truth is “fidelity and constancy [archaic forms]; sincerity in action, character, and utterance; the state of being the case: fact; the body of real things, events, and facts: actuality; often capitalized: a transcendent fundamental or spiritual reality; a judgment, proposition, or idea that is true or accepted as true (truths of thermodynamics); the body of true statements and propositions; the property (as of a statement) of being in accord with fact or reality; chiefly British: true; fidelity to an original or to a standard; in accordance with fact: actually.”

Yet, today, I hear people on TV and in conversation say that “my truth is not necessarily your truth.” If truth is fact, how can that be?

I started my search for truth in high school, and it led me into numerous metaphysical movements, cults, alternative religions, other world religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism, the concept of reincarnation, other spiritual realities, and metaphysics, plus so many more I can’t even name them all. Let me put it this way: If it went bump in the night, I wanted to know why.

But for all my searching for truth, I found only confusion and misery. If everyone had their own truth, then how could one movement or religion claim only they knew the truth passed down from “ancient masters.” The answer given was that I was not enlightened enough to understand.

Arguments over truth have consumed humankind from the earliest recorded times. An entry in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy from June 13, 2006 [http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/truth/] states that “The problem of truth is in a way easy to state: what truths are, and what (if anything) makes them true. But this simple statement masks a great deal of controversy. Whether there is a metaphysical problem of truth at all, and if there is, what kind of theory might address it, are all standing issues in the theory of truth.”

Theory. Huh. If truth is fact, why do people argue over its meaning? Truth is truth: fact, reality, fidelity, constancy.

One day the disciple Thomas asked a question of Jesus after the Lord comforted His followers by saying that He was going home and He would prepare a place for them and they would know the way to this place.

Confused, Thomas said to Jesus, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” John 14:5-7 NIV

Jesus is the truth. He is fact. He is reality. He is fidelity. He is constant. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He died on a cross, was laid in a tomb, and rose bodily three days later. The tomb is empty. What other path of enlightenment can claim that their leader—their ancient master—rose from the dead and showed his (or her) wounds to friends, family, and followers?

Jesus appeared first to Thomas so that the disciple could see with his own eyes the Lord’s nail-scarred hands.

I had known the truth as a child. But I forgot, or maybe the other voices screaming at me from their metaphysical money booths shouted Him down. In 1982 I found the truth. It . . . He . . . has never failed me.

Christian fiction contains more truth than the realities of life in our confusing world. Grasp that fact, write from the truth in your heart, and you will not need to include a conversion scene in your novel. His Holy Spirit will show the truth in your stories to those who have eyes to see and ears to hear.

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Please let me know how today’s blog has helped you. This becomes a two-way conversation when you post a comment. Often I jump back on the blog during the day and will answer your questions or respond to your comments. I have both published and unpublished authors who read The Roving Editor, and we’d love to hear from you so that we can learn from your experience. Let’s talk!

21 comments:

  1. I believe it was Flannery O'Connor who said, "The truth doesn't change according to our ability to stomach it."

    Truth is truth. Amen.

    And I love that it is setting me free.
    ~ Wendy

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  2. Wendy...I'm a Flannery groupie. Thanks for sharing that quote.

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  3. Sometimes today we hear folks say, "There is no absolute truth." My reply, "Are you absolutely sure about that?"

    I loved Tim Down's analogy about hiding the eggs in our work. Far better to let the reader go on a hunt for the truth in our stories than to hit them over the head.

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  4. Thank you for that last paragraph, Barbara. I needed somebody to say that.

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  5. I am in a study at church called, "The Truth Project". On the first night I was surprised at how the general public and the professional world try to explain truth. I'm glad there are Christian editors out there who know what the truth is and allow their authors to spread the truth through fiction. Thank you, Barbara. This is a great post.

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  6. What a powerful post. Thank you for bringing such clarity to the writing process. I am new to the writing world and have so much to learn - but this post brings me great freedom to express the Truth that is in me and allow God to do what He needs to do through it. I generally have to remind myself that God is big enough to cover my inadequacies and some times all I need to do is just show up and let God be God.

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  7. Amen! I was super inspired by Tim Downs' second key note speech about burying the egg. How some books are going to be harvest fiction, but others can be planting fiction, and there's a place for both. I loved that.

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  8. I'd love to hear the story of how you came to believe that Jesus Christ is the Truth after investigating all those other possibilities.

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  9. All I can say is, "Wow." Or "Amen." Take your pick.

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  10. Barbara, your last statement brought tears to my eyes: "Christian fiction contains more truth than the realities of life in our confusing world. Grasp that fact, write from the truth in your heart, and you will not need to include a conversion scene in your novel. His Holy Spirit will show the truth in your stories to those who have eyes to see and ears to hear."

    Like you I questioned everything and sought the "truth" by studying other religions only to arrive at a point where I felt too inadequate to determine what the "truth" is and longed for the simple faith of my childhood. That moment came and I experienced being reborn, but I did find one constant truth through that long search that comforts me ... LOVE as Jesus commanded that it be practised: "The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: / And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.”

    I've met too many people who are not defined Christians but truly love God according to Jesus' first commandment. I will never accept that God spurns them because they do not know His son personally. Their faith and devotion is their commitment to the One and Only God we all love, and the Holy Spirit has never directed me to convert such sincere believers but to respect them and their devoted love and faith of God. God speaks through our hearts and our hearts speak to each other.

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  11. A powerful post. Thank you, Barbara.
    You wrote:

    'Grasp that fact, write from the truth in your heart, and you will not need to include a conversion scene in your novel. His Holy Spirit will show the truth in your stories to those who have eyes to see and ears to hear.'

    This got my heart racing. I am so edified by this statement that I'm going to put it on a posted note and slap it to my computer as a constant reminder of why I'm doing what I'm doing, and what my characters should be.

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  12. Oh, Barbara, you're speaking my language. I just stumbled upon your blog, and I'm so glad I did.

    I'll never plumb the wonders of our marvelous Jesus. But one thing that astounds me about Him is that He is all things to all people: beauty, hope, love, truth, healing, constancy...I could go on and on.

    I've observed that we're each drawn particularly to one quality or another. Though all of His attributes astound me, His Truth brings me to my knees. The exchange between Pilate and Christ is one of my favorite passages in the Bible, and so applicable to our relativistic culture.

    Thank you for this thoughtful post!

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  13. What a great post, and definitely something I need to remember in my writing. Thanks for sharing this.

    Shelley
    http://inkscrawls.blogspot.com

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  14. Hi everyone,

    I've checked back on the blog comments several times yesterday and today, but I've felt so inadequate in adding anything to what you've said. You've inspired me.

    One short thing, and I'll say goodnight...Mike and I were on our prayer walk this morning. A song began to run through my head and initially I wasn't thinking about the words until I got to a line that made my spirit leap. You all know it: the Battle Hymn of the Republic.

    "Glory, glory, hallelujah,
    Glory, glory, hallelujah,
    Glory, glory, hallelujah,
    His truth is marching on."

    His truth is marching on in us down through the centuries, through our prayers, through our lives, through our words.

    Some day I'll share my testimony with you, for didn't the Lord say we would overcome through the blood of the Lamb and the WORDS of our testimony?

    Many blessings,
    Barbara

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  15. I so appreciate this post, Barbara. I must admit, I've often grown weary of what I consider "traditional Christian fiction" because of the obligatory conversion scenes. Seldom rang true for me; can't imagine what non-believers say. Tell the truth and allow the Holy Spirit to guide? What a concept!!

    ~Kay Marshall Strom

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  16. Barbara,

    What a blessing! Sometimes lost in the filters of endless how to's, publishing pursuits and the loneliness of writing is the true purpose for why we do what we do: Sharing truth. Thank you for filling the sails and righting the course.

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  17. Enjoyed this post, Barbara, and the comments.
    It reminds me of what Anne Lamott said in Bird by Bird and I've posted it on my computer. She wrote, "becoming a writer is about becoming conscious. When you're conscious and writing from a place of insight and simplicity and real caring about the truth, you will have the ability to throw the lights on for your reader." Our Lord is the ultimate Truth and witnessing to that reality is my mission as a writer.

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  18. The idea of not "having" to have a conversion scene is incredibly freeing to me! Thank you for confirming something I've thought, but haven't trusted myself to believe.

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  19. Yet, today, I hear people on TV and in conversation say that “my truth is not necessarily your truth.”

    Our world is steeped in postmodernism. They desire authenticity—genuine this, reality that—but then they reject that truth is truth. They are so blind, and it's so sad. :(

    Jesus appeared first to Thomas so that the disciple could see with his own eyes the Lord’s nail-scarred hands.

    Well, not first. He wasn't there when Jesus showed up in the locked room with the disciples the first time. And he appeared to Mary Magdalene first. (John 20)

    Jesus is the truth. He is fact. He is reality. He is fidelity. He is constant. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He died on a cross, was laid in a tomb, and rose bodily three days later. The tomb is empty. What other path of enlightenment can claim that their leader—their ancient master—rose from the dead and showed his (or her) wounds to friends, family, and followers?

    AMEN! :D

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