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truth vs. falsehood

Some people say that religion is just a collective delusion—that it’s all false and the hope we find isn’t real. Karl Marx is famously quoted as saying “Religion is the drug of the masses”—that is, religion lulls us into a false sense of security and joy. I suppose they could be right. I mean, we’re surrounded by false images. Ads for anything from make-up to beer are touched up to the point that they barely resemble their original subjects. And they tell us we can be prettier, smarter, and better-liked if we just buy a certain product.

But who tells us the truth? How do we know when something is really truly true?

I just watched Lars and the Real Girl [PG13]. It’s about this painfully introverted guy Lars who buys a life-sized doll and falls in love with her. Sounds weird, huh? Well, it is a bit, but it’s also really beautiful. It’s not really the story of his love for “Bianca” but about his small town’s love for him. He’s obviously delusional (thinking that “Bianca” talks to him and has a whole other life) but they go along with it. It’s very funny at times—the moment he introduces her to his family is priceless, mostly because you’re cringing the whole time. It’s dark humor about how even a lie can bring joy.

And that’s what I want to say to people who doubt what I put my faith in. Greater minds than mine have tried to prove the existence of God so I won’t try here. But I do want to say that the joy that “Bianca” brings to this small town and the community Lars experiences are so very real. Who’s to say that “Bianca” isn’t real, too?
Maybe truth comes in different and surprising packages. My experience of the world tells me that God is not a lie, that the comfort and challenge I find at church are not false but deeply true. Others may look into my life and say it’s all a delusion, but to me, the beauty and ugliness of the entire story are Truth.

Book Thoughts

The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell

Trends, social change, crime, marketing, suicide--they're all epidemics. They all begin with something seemingly insignificant and rise (or shrink) exponentially until they "tip." Kind of like water reaching the boiling point. The concept of a social epidemic makes a lot of sense to me. Christianity would not have caught on except for some contagious behavior by a few people. Groups form around ideas because of the contagious behavior of cool, connected people. Look at the Crocs trend if you don't believe me. A few beach bums wore them on the West Coast and now suddenly everyone and their sister has a pair.

Gladwell talks about the people who effect these changes: Mavens, Connectors, and Salesmen. He talks about Stickiness--how to get your message to stick in people's minds and behavior. He talks about Context--people do or don't do things based mostly around what their environment looks like, not rationality.

Fascinating book and well worth the read. I'm still marinating on it but here's the thing: it's true. Like Johnny Cash sings the truth. Like you feel at the end of Life is Beautiful. I completely resonate with Gladwell's points, and I can't help thinking how to leverage them into my ministry.