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Unheard of by the mainstream on any continent, the Plymouth Brethren were the collective, non-denominational Christian sect which held domain over the first twenty five years of my life. From infancy through the end of my university education I regularly heard, from their pulpit:
“We have The Truth.”
But, of course, they didn’t.
They – their earliest Bible scholars hailing from Scotland and Ireland, establishing Assemblies in America by the late 1800s, enduring repeated schism through the 20th century, and continuing to splinter off across the threshold of the 21st – just believed that they did.
And, this belief, once I realized that it was only a belief, set me on a quest which would become a theme, occupying my days for twenty five more years and beyond.
I’d embarked on my own, earnest search for the truth.
Only, this time, I would settle for nothing less.
First, the intention was benign enough: just simply vow to always speak the truth. Seemed easy – never, knowingly, make a false statement, to anyone. I was confident that, were I to tell the truth, somehow nothing but the truth would return to me, in kind.
This confidence was uninformed.
As life took us all through various levels of schooling and gainful employ, it grew increasingly remarkable to me how frequently, and ably, those around me could toss off a lie.
My little brother, whom I genuinely loved, was particularly adept.
Too oblivious, and fearful, was I to realize that he had harnessed a tactic which, in many ways, was motivated by my own behavior; whenever he needed to assert himself in the eyes of both our parents and my [ then overshadowing ] presence, he’d pop another just as easily as a hen lays a hot one.
But, to my ears, the lies were both awe-inspiring and mildly frightening. I felt their power, the alternate reality they created, recognizing that all it took for that reality to take hold in our parents’ eyes was their trust in the veracity they had allegedly instilled in us. It would take years for me to realize that truth was a precious commodity, and that I was surrounded by imposters.
But, the fear of God had imbued me with a certain fortitude; I would honor the truth, all the more fervently.
Few shared my passion.
Behavioral scientists had determined that those whose reality seemed hopeless would take to creating one in their own minds for solace. But, those who imposed theirs on others for personal gain were the real predators. Most had learned that trust was a vital prerequisite to contriving a convincing reality. Either these had been taught this by example, or some random experience had been brought to bear; whichever the case, trust was the liar’s first prey.
And, the liar succeeded by isolating the gullible, those whose trust, for whatever cause, was blindly automatic.
I was among their prime targets.
Initially, this made manifest in “the butt of the joke” which, of course, was yours truly. Exploiting the trust of the gullible teaches that a lie can hurt, and I learned to feel its isolating pain.
Perhaps the memory of this pain dulled my resolve; admittedly, the time would come wherein my veracity would be tested.
The stage of life which presented the greatest challenge to my determined commitment to truth was young adulthood. A late bloomer by all standards, I was still living with my parents at age 25, following graduation from college. Once the opportunity arose to establish autonomy from them I moved out, while they were on vacation in Florida. My lifestyle, though hardly promiscuous by most standards, just prior to and following my leave taking I’d attempted to withhold from my family. This was my first venture into the realm of deceit.
And, because I had to justify this deceit in my own mind, rationale stepped up. Only one thing trumped full disclosure: the bonds of love. I needed my parents’ love, and that of my family; revealing everything about my life to them would have caused everyone involved pain, and created enmity, I decided.
Interestingly, now that I am older and fully autonomous, nothing about my life is hidden from anyone. There is no longer any motive for deceit.
(And, by way of history, my beloved brother cast off his childhood penchant in favor of a life as practical missionary. He has also, for 25 years, been the devoted husband to one wife, raised five boys, and repeatedly sacrificed his every personal desire in the service of his wife and family.)
Nevertheless, “bearing false witness” is the bane of both safe, and secure, existence. It renders a climate of suspicion, demands of its generation a degree of wariness that drains health, and obscures any possibility for mutual trust. A society of liars is, at best, one which renders its members in constant competition for power over the running story and the constituents in place to believe it.
All have known the discovery of a perpetrated lie. All know the stages of emotional response. And, all know the tenacious effects, long after the deed is done.
If I have a prayer at all, it is that humanity return to its earliest recognized truth, laying hold of and marketing its value to anyone who will hear. And, most of all, I pray for those with the courage to tell it.
© Ruth Ann Scanzillo 11/16/16 – All rights those of the author, whose name appears above this line. Thank you for your trustworthiness.
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9 thoughts on “The Truth.[ edited]”
Some recent thoughts of mine are as follows – imagine if they found DNA from the body of JC, and tested it to see if he was indeed the son of God, and found that yes indeed, his DNA was not human, but God! How ludicrous would that be? What would God’s DNA be like? I don’t know much about DNA, or science in general, but these sort of discoveries seem to break down the old beliefs.
Setting that aside, while reading I was also thinking of a couple of other threads of thought, 1 about how my relations with my friends as a youth, (and to this day) and 2 about how humans have evolved.
(I just wanted to jot those down as headers, or else I might forget – perhaps due to the nature of this sort of thinking, does it matter enough to remember or not?) I have these thoughts at work, my work is quite easy, so its a good opportunity to drift in my mind.
Anyhow – so, my friends – recently I was out with my old friends for way back, we had a re-union, and it reminded me of how I feel I differ from them, in that they seem unencumbered by my pre-occupation with truth, illuminated thinking, deep seated cowardice and so forth! I put it down to the way I was brought up, having all this guilt and sin laid onto my back, contrasted by these heavenly aspirations of spiritual merging with etherial vapours or whatever.
Part 2 of my thoughts were about how humans evolved – we found ourselves with this new religion, (Christianity) 2000yrs ago, and moved forwards building our entire future on this firm foundation, then after the passing of approximately 2 millennia, we begin to seek to sever our false roots – only to find that without them, we are adrift in a world without meaning or logic! Thanks Einstein, Darwin, President Trump, et al! 😉
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I would have NEVER guessed that you had been raised as I, the islands’ size and populace relative to our continental sprawl enough evidence for the statistical unlikelihood, but my heritage is so rooted in Anglo-Saxonian thought that I suppose I should have merely guessed!! In fact, while searching out my great grandfather’s birthplace, I noted that Plymouth was just a casual walk up the southern coast – ! YES; the principal argument FOR belief in the Christian system of ..thought? is precisely that: What else is there? Existentialism? Universal One-ness? The latter is popular, on this land mass; and, we have the influx of Eastern peoples’ to thank for it. Yes; isn’t there a hymn, The Firm Foundation, or something? (I know all the old English hymns, you know – all of them.)
So, your ELDER brother is the minister of the Gospel, or your younger? What is the prevailing denomination for English Fundamentalists, these days?
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Fundamentalists? That would be the Jehovah Witness’ – or Seventh Day Adventists as I think they are called over your side? My brother (older) is the only one in our family to really continue with religion, his church group is called icthius church, they seem to be nice people, a bit fanatical for my taste, (I really like Catholicism, and Anglican) mainly cos I like proper singing and old fashioned ceremony. I say fanatics, but they’re really not, the real fanatics are all Anglicans, professing this while doing that, and so forth – oh, I don’t know who the real fanatics are, I confess, its probably me! 😮
There was an add outside a church that responded to people who call Christians hypocrites by saying come and join us hypocrites on Sunday! 🙂 Thats just bizarre!
I shall re-read your piece later after dinner and have further thoughts I expect 🙂
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Oh, no…..Fundamentalists in the US are considered to be all those who are “Bible-believing” (literalists) – also, those who ascribe to Luther’s salvation through faith, alone. Seventh Day and Jehovah’s Witnesses are considered by most in the Christian mainstream to be fringe sects, although the latter has a large membership (not as mammoth as the Mormons, however).
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I was listening to a thing on the radio where this woman was talking about her involvement with the JW’s, the elders who ran the whole thing, locking her in a room and giving her a good talking too, that was when she finally realised they didn’t actually have the right to do that – so she demanded to be allowed to leave, she said that was the moment she realised she could actually do that, after all those years, and it really does work like that, people don’t have the strength or ability – I found it a riveting story!
We don’t see much in the way of Baptists or Mormons here, (tho we used to get Mormons door to door in my home town from the nearby USAF base)
I’d regard your fundies as medievalists! Its really extreme isn’t it? I suppose its attraction is its simplicity, but not so simple to live up too. I quite like the Amish, if only because the yard good for the environment! 🙂
What actually most put me off Christianity, (other than boredom) – (our church was dull) was perhaps additionally a certain American missionary named Dick Saunders – he came to our town and converted thousands – (or perhaps a dozen or so) in a campaign titled “Come Alive in 75′ – my dad being very English, was naturally suspicious of any such emotional nonsense, One doesn’t simply walk into Mordor and all that!
I like the oldie ways, when we were in Florence a priest came over to chat, he clocked my reflex like cynicism and worked on Louise instead, told her some mumbo jumbo about the Saints, it was ace, a real crock, but I love all that smoke and mirrors, I’m not buying it, but without it there would be really nothing left, I love all that! Bring on the charlatans! The guy looked like something out of Father Ted, like he’s on the communion wine weekdays, he was unshaven – scruffy! He looked like he was an alcoholic who found a spiritual home, selling trinkets and charming stories to women tourists at the Basilique della Santissima – that was one seriously beautiful interior! Well worth a visit, the church was in a state of disrepair, I was moved by it since it seemed neglected, they were struggling to attract visitors, they had this yarn about an altar to the most beautiful angel ever painted, the story went that the artist couldn’t complete the work, so an angel had to come along to help out – something like that, anyhow, there was a crucifixion in another part of the church, attributed to Michelangelo, utterly beautiful, I don’t know if its genuine as its not much like his usual style from what I’m familiar with, but either way, I’m glad I saw it!
I’m the little brother referred to in my sister’s post. I have to say I’m blind-sided by the inferences as I have no recollection of the lies or tactics. Regarding truth…someone once said, “If you don’t believe something, then you are open to anything”. I can say as I sit here there is a calm in my heart, that innermost part of my being, a calm that arises from being set free. It doesn’t take more than marginal intellect to realize that the truth is what set’s the heart and mind free. Even Darwin had doubt’s on his quest for the truth. “Darwin’s Doubt” is a great read from both an intellectual, scientific perspective as well as a faith-based perspective.
Paul, since you identified yourself publicly, I only have this to say: You were a child. People usually have little to no memory of the things they said when they were children, unless what was said was couched in traumatic event. Many of the things children say, especially in the company of adults, are informed by parents’ attitudes (I know this, because I taught thousands of children) – which isn’t to say either of our parents lied to us! (because I can’t imagine that happening). The phase of our lives about which I speak was our first five or six years. I remember what you said because it affected me; you, on the other hand, would likely not remember. But – you would probably remember, in detail, things that I myself said – and, did! I had a classmate who reminded me at a class reunion of things I said as a child, things I had no memory of saying. While not a lying child, I was nevertheless an egocentric child, a braggart, and obnoxious around other children.There’s the proof of my argument! Did you read the phrase wherein I stated that you had cast off the penchant for a life of service as a missionary? Indeed, I am with you 100% – the truth IS what sets the heart and mind free. That is the premise of my entire blog: the truth – of my own life, in more detail than most will reveal, I’d wager. It is both a confession, and a purge. Your childhood verbal creativity is what taught me the meaning, the value of the power of truth – and, for that, I thank you. I also love you, and admire you, still, something I have been trying desperately to get through to you, for many years. And, speaking of what is in the heart, I think you know that.
p.s. to Paul: By the way, the condition you have in your lumbar region is likely, though not positively, anterolysthesis. That’s what I have, diagnosed via xray yesterday. An intuitive chiropractor, coming at you from above, crunching your knees up to your chin and cracking that region, can adjust it. Do you have spondylosis in any vertebrae?
Has anyone here thought of this as this? https://fromthedeskofrevjeanniefranks.wordpress.com/2017/01/20/the-infamous-mark/