Ask anyone and they’ll say, “We value truth.” The Latin root of the word truth is Veritas. Defined, the word Veritable means — authentic, actual, genuine, or without doubt.
So, we value truth? What is truth?
During a trial in a small Missouri town the local prosecuting attorney called his first witness to the stand. The witness was a proper well-dressed elderly lady, well spoken and poised. She was sworn in, asked if she would tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help her God. She said, “Of course I will.”
The prosecuting attorney approached the woman and asked, “Mrs. Jones, do you know me?”
She responded, “Why, yes I do know you, Mr. Williams. I’ve known you since you were a young boy and frankly, you’ve been a big disappointment to me. You lie, cheat on your wife, manipulate people and talk badly about them behind their backs. You think you’re a rising big shot when you haven’t the sense to realize you never will amount to anything more than a two-bit paper-pushing shyster. Yes, I know you quite well.”
The lawyer was stunned. He couldn’t even think for a few moments. Then, slowly backed away, fearing the looks on the judge and jurors’ faces, not to mention the court reporter who documented every word.
Not knowing what else to do, he pointed across the room and asked, “Mrs. Jones, do you know the defense attorney?”
She again replied, “Why, yes, I do. I’ve known Mr. Bradley since he was a youngster. He’s lazy, bigoted, and has a bad drinking problem. The man can’t build or keep a normal relationship with anyone and his law practice is one of the worst in the entire state. Not to mention he cheated on his wife with three different women. Yes, I know him.”
The defense attorney almost fainted and was seen slipping downward in his chair, looking at the floor. Laughter mixed with gasps thundered throughout the courtroom which was on the verge of chaos.
At this point, the judge brought the courtroom to silence, called both counselors to the bench, and in a very quiet voice said, “If either of you morons asks her if she knows me, you’re going to jail, and I will personally throw the key into the river.”
TRUTH — To tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help us God?
What is truth?
Right here in Rome, Georgia, there are people who are yearning for something more. People who cry out for meaning … people who seek greater understanding to the mysteries of life and a path that leads to truth. Perhaps in our search for truth we might discover there are new ideas, or creative, innovative solutions that require a “paradigm shift” or a reframing of our understanding to arrive at truth.
The truth is, we need to continually search for new truths. Ideas, practices and perspectives that once were held to be absolute, have shifted, changed and been modified because of new revelations of truth.
I know it can be frightening to think about new things. I remember my Daddy making a bold proclamation back in 1982 right after the book entitled “Real Men Don’t Eat Quiche” was published. He said, “I don’t know what quiche is, but I don’t want to eat it if real men don’t eat it.” I explained that a basic quiche is made of eggs, cheese and some type of pastry crust. After he thought about it a while he said, “I guess I eat that every morning for breakfast in a different form — I just call mine scrambled cheese and eggs with toast!”
Andy Wayne Clapp, the pastor of a United Methodist Congregation in North Carolina, wrote the following Upper Room “devotional” — “From the pulpit in our church, one can see the seam in the carpet that separates the two shades of red carpet pieces. The seam represents the point where the old sanctuary was enlarged in the early 1990s because this small country church needed more seats for people to come and worship. Yes, from the front of the church I can see the problem, but it’s not the two shades of carpet. The problem is that in the 20 years after the expansion, no more seams have been needed. The growth stopped. The congregation dwindled. Somewhere along the way, the vision shifted away from reaching out to others and turned inward to looking out for just us.”
Reframing the truth for the modern day is not new. As citizens of Rome, aren’t we called to continue to change, shift and reframe our understanding to adapt, shift and re-invent ourselves and our city to address the new needs of a new day?