This class met on Wednesday evenings in Lent 2021
Social Media platforms like Facebook and Twitter have created a phenomenon where we sort ourselves into groups that are more and more alike in interests and beliefs. We “like” people we agree with and “follow” people that are interesting to us and a natural sorting takes place until it seems as though everyone we know agrees and is of a very similar opinion on any given topic.
A similar sorting has happened in the News industry. Radical and extreme opinions are entertaining and draw large groups of listeners and viewers. There is even a comfort that comes from watching news programs that confirm our beliefs and biases. Liberals watch MSNBC and conservatives watch Fox News and each is confirmed and reassured in their world view.
A significant number of people follow “conspiracy theories” like “QAnon”. Whether by mob mentality, or the force of agreement of so many like-minded people, or repetition of assertions until they are simply accepted, conspiracy theories lead people to believe in a truth that is demonstrably (and sometimes dangerously) disconnected from truth or reality.
The events of January 6th in our capitol demonstrate the power and influence of political divisiveness, social media and news that further sort and separate us into tribes, and even conspiracy theories that warp people’s perceptions of reality.
Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.” (John 14:6) Pilate cynically asks, “What is truth?” (John 18:38) Truth is at the heart of Jesus’ identity and purpose. Attacks on the truth are a part of the world we live in.
I offered a five-session class on Wednesday evenings this Lenten season to explore the subject of Truth. We looked at definitions of truth, truth in history, the role of truth in church history, truth in the world, and finally, truth and faith.
“If you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes accepted as truth.” – Joseph Goebbels