“I said in my consternation, ‘Everyone is a liar’” (Psalm 116:11).

“….whatsoever things are true…whatsoever things are lovely,…if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things” (Philippians 4:8, KJV).

I have despaired more than usual recently of our ever knowing, hearing or facing the truth–small “t”–in society and church. This even as I remain completely confident in the One who is “faithful and true” (Revelation 3:14) and called himself “the Truth” (John 14:6).

How are we to know, for example, who is really responsible for the precipitous rise in gasoline prices? Is it the President? Congress? Greedy speculators? The oil companies with their excessive profits? Oil-producing countries that wield power through the cost of a barrel? Drivers themselves?

Or what are we to make of claim and counter-claim in the current political campaign? How about the charges and pronouncements of preachers and/or historians who present a deeply different, troubling view of America and Americans?

In the church, some say that we read Scripture through the lenses of our own prejudices and experiences, and we are not even aware of our bias. My reading is not inherently better or worse than your reading, so this line of reasoning goes; it’s simply different based on our backgrounds, gender, sexual orientation, race, and so on. Others, like a man I heard the other day, equate their words with those of God. “If you have a problem with what I say,” he insisted, “then you have a problem with God, because what I’m telling you is in the Bible.”

But even if I wonder where I can find truth, I know where to locate beauty. For starters, in my own backyard. There my wife and I were recently surprised by not one but three rose-breasted grosbeaks and an indigo bunting on our feeders, along with a brown thrasher running through the grass. Just today a downy woodpecker clung to a shepherd’s crook right in front of me while I was cleaning the birdbath. Plus, we delight in the silvery-winged cattle egrets flying in formation overhead late in the afternoon.

I find wondrous beauty in a clear night sky, as the stars shed their light on me and on everyone from thousands of parsecs away. From time to time, I notice one that “stands like a white city” (Rainer Maria Rilke), a bright beacon in the heavens. They never fail to inspire and thrill.

There is beauty in the care of people for each other, whether of wife and husband, caregiver and his or her elderly charge or friends who help each other through a crisis: one and all patiently giving, earnestly loving, insistently hoping, tirelessly being faithful. It’s the loveliness of committed souls and pure hearts that “will one thing” (Kierkegaard), namely, the good of the other.

So maybe I need to be a little more attentive to the possibility for truth in a world and church full of confusion, spin, and even lies. Because there is beauty all around. And is there in beauty no truth?

© 2008 by Tom Cheatham

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