Truth or Consequences

Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – think about such things. Philippians 4:8

Besides being the name of a town in New Mexico,  Truth or Consequences  was also a TV game show in the 1950’s. Contestants called from the audience were asked an obscure trivia questions.  A wrong answer caused them to participate in an embarrassing stunt. 

The show lasted for almost 30 years and was a staple of day-time television. The show always ended with the line: “May all of your consequences be happy ones.”  Nice!  We need that kind of encouragement today in apost-truthpost-modern and post-Christian era. 

I recently had a back-and-forth discussion with a former law colleague about my last post on Journalism which he labeled as spreading falsehoods. I was stunned. He might as well have poked a finger in my eye.

I finally realized where he was coming from when he said this:  “Every person determines what is true and what is false”. Wow! Not exactly an objective test for truth. Reminds me of the line from the movie Shooter: “The truth is what I say it is!”

But that’s where we are today. If I get to determine what is true and it conflicts with what you think is true, then you can be attacked, censored, shadow blocked or even shamed on social media.  I consider that a dangerous assault on our democracy and free speech because only one view is allowed.

One of the more recent truth or consequences games being played is with COVID-19. Long before COVID, a 2006 study planning for pandemic responses cautioned that lockdowns were bad health policy. 

When the pandemic hit, everyone scurried to determine what to do, and politicians gave due deference to technocracy, which is government control by “an elite of technical experts”. Unelected technocrats, under the guise of knowing everything, were happy to promote public policy.  

What followed was something that at times looked like a keystone cops comedy chase scene from the silent movies. Recommendations first said don’t wear masks and it’s OK to go to Chinatown for meals. 

Then, they reversed course and said wear masks which became the gold standard for elected politicians who demanded everyone wear a mask based on “science”.  And some “experts” now say to continue using masks after you have been vaccinated.

Only it’s not science as Alex Berenson wrote in Unreported Truths: MasksThe “science” on masks is anything but settled but you wouldn’t know that based on government mandates and media support.  Berenson’s books were initially blocked on Amazon because they contained “misinformation”, a code word for something that those in power don’t like.  

Even though it is not settled science, mandatory masks requirements still exist as public health policy. As far as I can tell, nothing has changed. You can’t go into a business, restaurant or doctor’s office without a mask because the government says so. A family recently got kicked off an airplane because their 2-year-old wouldn’t keep his mask on. 

Oh, and eating meals out in restaurants is forbidden in many states and cities.  The consequence:  110,000 restaurants are permanently closed with more to come. Scientific data show that restaurants that properly adhere to social distancing guidelines are less dangerous than household get-togethers.  

Large gatherings were deemed to be “super-spreader” events, unless you were an antifa or BLM protests which were described as “mostly peaceful protests”, which ignored the resulting  $2 billion of damage, 31 deaths and the destruction of many inner city businesses.

The media was complicit in setting the narrative that protests were good, while meeting in a church for a religious service was both bad and non-essential.  At best, protests were termed “risky”, and the media uniformly failed to condemn violence, looting and mayhem. Again, a mismatch of truth with consequences.

Which brings us back to lockdowns, the preferred public policy in many states. We were told to “cancel” Thanksgiving with our families, and Christmas is also on the chopping block. Schools remain closed around the country even though the CDC and other “experts”  are in favor of opening schools

School closures will have long term devastating consequences, given that urban schools were already failing before COVID.  Those consequences include a precipitous drop in math test scores and learning. 

One study asserts that school closures will reduce lifetime earnings as well as the life expectancy  for children Isolation has caused mental health to suffer and  suicides and drug overdoses have spiked. These are terrible consequences to the next generation.

As James Freeman notes, the widespread myopia on COVID risks has ignored other risks to human health.  The vaccine will end COVID.  But there is no vaccine for the long-term collateral damage to our health, education and economy. 

Stepping back, it appears that we are being led by “truths” from experts without a proper evaluation of all the consequences. When something that has been held up as a “truth” turns out to be false, there is no adaptive change in policy, resulting in more adverse consequences. 

As we approach the Christmas season, Christians have one truth that we can count on: Jesus was born, lived on this earth and died for our sins. The consequence of his birth two millennia ago has provided hope for generations in a hopeless world. It’s a hope story that needs to be told again and again. 

MENTOR TAKEAWAY:  Mentors are on the front lines of communicating the hope that we have at Christmas in a world that is searching for truth.

FURTHER READING: Death toll reaches 30 during “mostly peaceful protests” – Federalist 

When Experts Fail, Everyone Pays the Price WSJ

Family Kicked off United Flight for Toddler Not Wearing Mask – Newsweek

The 2006 Origins of the Lockdown Idea – AIER

Adverse Consequences of School Closures – UNESCO

How School Shutdowns Have Long Term Effects on Children – Wired

The Double Pandemic of Social Isolation  Health Affairs

ADVENT SONG: Joy to the World (Joyful, Joyful) – Wickham

MentorLink: For more information about MentorLink, go to www.mentorlink.org.

SUBSCRIBE:  You can receive an email notice of each post by clicking on the icon at the top right corner and entering your email address.

Journalism

You who plot deceit, your tongue plots destruction; it is like a sharpened razor. Psalm 55:2

Journalism is defined as “the activity or profession of writing for [media] or preparing news for broadcast.”  The operative word is “news”, which is based on fact and truth. At least it used to.

A functioning democracy is based on freedom of speech.  Freedom of the press follows close behind. But what happens when media picks sides and only “reports” opinions and advances narratives but not facts?

Peter Fischer, my daughter’s father-in-law, has a Ph.D. in Russian Language and Literature from Harvard.  His family fled Poland to Austria when WWII broke out and later emigrated to America. 

Peter taught Russian at three American Universities. He became the Russian interpreter at the Moscow embassy during glasnost, assisting the US Ambassador with increased contact and outreach to a previously locked-down Russian society.

Peter submitted a piece to the Wall Street Journal hoping it would find its way to the Opinion page.  It wasn’t published. It was titled:  “Fairytale: A Brief Primer on Socialism and the Current State of the U.S. Media”.  It chronicles the downfall of the U.S.S.R. (the second “S” stands for “Socialist”).

He quotes Winston Churchill:  “Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy.”  Peter adds:  “If, in our current political debate, we willfully ignore the lessons of history and give credence to the Left’s clamor for socialism as a solution to our problems, we do so at grave peril.”  This from a man who has experienced the failure of socialism during his lifetime.

Peter thinks that the leftist push today for utopia only results in dystopia. He described how the U.S.S.R. used “control of public information to keep the populace ignorant and brainwashed.”  The press and media spoke with one voice shaping the narrative. 

There were two newspapers in the soviet world: “Pravda” and “Izvestiya” which in Russian means “The Truth” and “The News”. Irreverent Russians joked that  there is no “Truth” in “The News” and no “News” in “The Truth”.

He notes the irony that we are  “confronted with a weirdly inverted mirror image of how the press and mass media functioned in the now defunct U.S.S.R.”   The two leading newspapers (Washington Post and the New York Times) have morphed into “ideological bastions of the left”, willfully and deliberately slanting the ‘news’ and ignoring or upending the ‘truth’ “.  

Even Thomas Jefferson was skeptical of media when he said: “Nothing can now be believed which is seen in the newspaper.  I will add that the man who never looks into a newspaper is better informed than he who reads one.”

Today, 90% of all media outlets are controlled by five media “behemoths” (Comcast, Disney, Newscorp, Viacom and Time Warner) according to Matt Talibi. He goes on to say that “if you don’t trust the news, you have good reason”.

If you add in social media giants Google, Facebook and Twitter, each of which have liberal leanings, you have American media control similar to the old Soviet media.  Social media, besides promoting a left leaning agenda, also acts as a censor of conservative thought or what they term “misinformation”, which is not misinformation at all, but a different viewpoint.

Today, you cannot post to YouTube any story about “election fraud”, notwithstanding that there is a case in the U.S.S.C. on this very topic. That’s a fact and not “misinformation” as claimed by YouTube as if we are in an alternate reality.

They do it by scrubbing a post,  canceling access (which happened to the New York Post recently), or shadow banning. As Talibi notes, “any ‘triggering’ content is quickly gunned down by trigger happy censors.”

A New York Post story is an example. Epidemiologists from Harvard, Stanford and Oxford University wrote that Sweden’s model of obtaining herd immunity was the best public policy for COVID. That view broke with “conventional wisdom” of the CDC. The Post, the 4th largest paper in the U.S., had its  twitter accounts blocked when it ran the story.

What makes this vexing is that the media bias is not due to government control as in China or Russia. In Cameroon, stories of deaths caused by civil unrest in the Anglophone region have been suppressed by the government for years.  Instead, this is an ideologically driven phenomena, where only one side’s narrative is told, and the other side’s is suppressed.

How do you find news you can trust?  Matt Talibi, along with other investigative reporters have begun to flee from media giants and are now independent. That’s a good sign, but it’s a little like David fighting Goliath because they don’t have the bandwidth of the media giants.  

Alex Berenson,  a former NY Times reporter, found that his books on Unreported Truths about Covid-19 were initially censored by Amazon, even though it cites published medical studies and research  and the World Health Organization.

These are examples from the medical field. It gets worse when one strays into politics and public policy. John Inazu wrote that we will have a vaccine for COVID-19, but the “information virus” has no vaccine. 

Inazu’s remedy?  Get back to face-to-face relationships which “force us to confront complexity rather than caricature, and who challenge [us] to maintain friends, not just followers.” That’s a call for mentors to speak into the lives of the next generation.

The challenge here is that the next generation is absorbing news, often in snippets or headlines, from a biased media.  They don’t read, relying on crowdsourcing and emotion to make decisions, instead of facts, reason, logic or critical thinking.

It’s no wonder the next generation favors socialism rather than capitalism. That’s all they have heard because that’s what the media wants them to hear. Developing a relationship with them is something that is sorely needed to challenge them.

MENTOR TAKEAWAY:  Mentors need to be clear eyed when it comes to news. They need to separate fact from opinion with their mentees and help them with develop critical thinking.,

FURTHER READING: If You Don’t Trust the News, You Have Good Reason – Talibi

 Saving Truth: Finding Meaning and Clarity in a Post-Truth World –  Murray

Live Not by Lies: A Manual for Christian Dissidents – Dreher

The Virus Without a Vaccine – John Inaza

How the Hunter Biden Story was Suppressed Until After the Election – NY Post

YouTube to Delete Videos that Allege Fraud, Errors that Changed the Election – PC Magazine

ADVENT SONG: Emanuel (Hallowed Manger Ground) – Chris Tomlin

MentorLink: For more information about MentorLink, go to www.mentorlink.org.

SUBSCRIBE:  You can receive an email notice of each post by clicking on the icon at the top right corner and entering your email address.

Postmodernism


What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.  
Eccl.1:9

One of my close friends, Ralph Ennis, frequently mentioned that we live in a “post-modern” world. My eyes would glaze, and I would knowingly nod my head in agreement, not really understanding this cultural descriptor.  I suspect I am not alone.

As Scott Allen notes, “All cultural change begins with language change. Changes in language – new words, new definitions – can usually be traced to thought leaders who may have lived hundreds of years before.”

Worldviews help us make sense of our identity and purpose. We have to start with pre-modernism, a worldview which started with the Reformation in the middle ages. It was a worldview based on a belief in God.  This included the concept of original sin and that humans were subject to God’s will. 

The Enlightenment changed that, and faith in God was replaced by experience and reason. It emphasized science and individualism. Science and reason became the basis to prove the world true. 

As Andy Kalan notes: “There sprouted a utopian optimism in the belief that humanity (and science) could explain and fix all problems.” In other words, the Bible was “out”, and science was “in”. 

Moral agency (the right of an individual to determine his course) replaced a reflexive action based on biblical principles. Spiritual considerations wouldn’t hold up to the weight of science and Darwin pushed the idea that life was the result of spontaneous and chaotic naturalism. Yet even his theory of evolution doesn’t provide answers at a molecular level. 

Modernism provided the notion that “we are all just animals acting out of our instinctual ‘survival of the fittest’ mentality set within us for our benefit.”  The result?  “Two world wars which pushed power structures and racism causing unforeseen devastation by people who were considered “civilized, cultured and evolutionary advanced”.

Fast forward to the 1960’s when postmodernism started as a quest to “figure out who I am.” Premodernism was defined by agriculture; modernism by capitalism, industry and mass production. Postmodernism shifted to the need for communication between isolated individuals searching for “meaning, experience from which to belong.”  It’s economic model is socialism.

Premodernism was based on “where we came from”; modernism was based on a career-driven “what we do”; and postmodernism’s focus is on “who I am.”  All have a similar ring. In a way, they each represent the three basic human needs to be loved, to be known and to be provided for. 

Michael Foucault, the French postmodern thinker in the late 20th century argued that “language is more about power than it is about truth”. He insisted that, in modern society, “the deployment of force and the establishment of truth” are identical. 

In the postmodern world, truth is fungible. There is no absolute truth, which makes biblical moorings difficult to maintain. Instead, political power replaces truth; if they can cancel your voice, threaten you with violent riots and force you to comply, then the imaginary world they  demand will come into being. 

The new “truth” isn’t based on the objective world or something we can describe or experience. It becomes the decisions that strong people make.  It justifies violence to create and enforce. We see groups like Antifa roaming the streets of our cities causing violence and rioting, and one has to see the connection to postmodernism. 

The agitators today present their ideas as new. They are not.  In Greek times,  gurus like Heraclitus insisted “all things are in flux”, which meant that there was no stable truth which could be known or counted on.

Thrasymachus, a Greek who argued with Socrates in Plato’s Republic, was the precursor to Foucault. He asserted that “justice is simply the will of the stronger.” 

“Truth” has become so distorted that you wouldn’t recognize it. An example is the recent media and political narrative that riots, violence, lootings and even murders in many US cities were really mostly “peaceful protests”.  

One cable news network featured a newsman giving a video report that the protests in Kenosha, WI, were “fiery but mostly peaceful” while standing in front of burning cars. Those “mostly peaceful protests” did close to $2 billion of damage to 140 cities and almost 30 died in the past 6 months.

That was not an isolated instance of media misinformation. We are being gaslighted, which is a reference from the play Gas Light in 1938.  It is a form of psychological abuse aimed at controlling a person by altering reality and truth.

In the play, a husband sequentially turns lowers the gas-powered lights in the house. When his wife notices the dimming, her husband denies it and convinces her that she is imagining it to the point where she questions her own sanity. 

We are now living in a period of constant gaslighting, where the “reality” being told is at odds with what we see. If you push back, you will be labeled and cancelled. Socialism is the answer because capitalism is oppressive, yet over 100 million people died from communism in the 20th century. 

The challenge is to realize that postmodernism is Post-truth. It has bent truth beyond recognition and reality. Our next generation has been brought up in an environment where  social media – their primary source for information – don’t question what is being fed to them. 

They are searching for meaning in life, and they need others to come alongside who will display authentic and transparent lives with integrity.

MENTOR TAKEAWAY:  You should recognize that your mentee is weak on history. If they don’t know about the Holocaust, then they can be deceived by narratives that are not true. You can help by leaning in and provide context such as an understanding of postmodernism. 

FURTHER READING:

Defining modernism and pre-modernism and Postmodernism – Stephen Hicks

Analysis of History: The Story of Premodernism, Modernism and Postmodernism – Andy Kalan

Discipline and Punish – Foucalt

Death Toll Rises to Estimated 30 Since “Mostly Peaceful Protests” Began – Federalist

Why Social Justice is Not Biblical Justice – Scott Allen

WORSHIP:  Your Love Changes Everything – Red Rocks Worship