Monday, May 13, 2013

keeping falsehood at bay

Yesterday, a friend sent along a link to a pretty good documentary about the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas. Pastor Fred Phelps has made headlines in the past with his "God Hates Fags" rallies and his picketing of funeral services for American military personnel.

Fred Phelps
The documentary was not quite as good as it wanted to be, but it was good in that any potential visceral distaste was put on the back burner in an attempt to paint a picture of an extreme persuasion. Yes, it was frightening and yes it was infuriating, but the volume was turned down and the documentary did not rely on the mindless "I hate it" argument (as if that were enough) that is sometimes brought to bear.

Strange to think how many persuasions, extreme and otherwise, seek the truth and build towering fortifications in its behalf ... all as a means of keeping falsehood at bay. Individually, institutionally, high-minded or low-brow ... keeping falsehood at bay.

It's a starting point, I suppose, but for anyone who seeks the truth -- sometimes called the "authentic truth" or something equally grandiloquent -- how could such a tactic be doomed to anything other than self-important failure? I don't mean this as a criticism. I just mean that the tactic cannot work ... that it would be like asserting that water could be something other than wet.

The truth is the truth ... that is for sure. But the fact is that falsehood is likewise true ... a true falsehood ... and anyone seeking the truth cannot simply hold such a truth at arm's length. Pastor Phelps and his companions -- whether high-minded or low-brow -- can revel all they like in the buttressing fortifications they have erected and maintain (like the rest of us), but for those seriously concerned with the truth, whether within or without, I think it's better to open the gates and embrace what cannot be an enemy ... or anyway, cannot be an enemy if the truth is an honest objective.

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