Live not by lies

We learn that a young Hollywood TV star (of whom we’d never heard) has called the show in which he appears “filth,” & told his fans not to watch it. We suspect this was a poor career move, & are suitably impressed. The lad comes from the usual broken home, found drugs when his parents divorced, & has now found the Seventh Day Adventists, via televangelism. The trendline is looking up, & yet we fear for him, for he has chosen an heroic path for which he had no formation. And while the promises of Christ are true, always, the promises of televangelists are not so reliable. May God ready those who are not ready.

We live by lies, but we don’t have to. This item forwarded by an American reader, contains a further link to Solzhenitsyn’s immortal essay, spelling out what every Christian must do: Passively resist. This, as Solzhenitsyn said, is heroic enough. “The simplest and most accessible key to our self-neglected liberation lies right here: Personal non-participation in lies.”

As a child, of “post-Christian” parents, we nevertheless benefited from a fine example. For our papa persistently lost good jobs, & we came sometimes very close to desperate poverty. But he lost them because he was an honest man. He absolutely refused to tell lies, to participate in lies, or by his lights to live any lie. He took the consequences & of course, so did we. Our mama sometimes wondered about her husband’s good judgement, why he couldn’t just make a “little” compromise sometimes, but her loyalty to him was unshakeable. She had after all married him, having declined to marry some “better prospects” (she was a red-haired beauty; she had lots of choice). She had done so because she had decided, in an inspired & “irresponsible” moment, “You live only once, & I will marry a good man.” She married him indeed in the chapel of a sanatorium, when his recovery from tuberculosis was uncertain, & his career prospects were nil. Christian or not, we came from a good family.

We mention this because the argument is constantly made, by perfectly conservative people, that a man’s first duty is to feed his children. Yes, but not by bread alone. Papa did what was necessary to keep us in food, in clothes, & under a roof, even when it involved personal humiliation. But he would not lie.

A rich Polish Jew we know, who survived the death camp as a child with his mother, by jumping off a train, told us the worst thing to leave your kids is money. Money comes & goes, he said with authority, for he had watched lots of it come & go. “You leave them an example or you’ve left them nothing.”

It is not true that we are powerless. It is not true that politics are the answer. It is not true that we can do nothing because we have failed. These are among the lies for our rejection. It is not even true that we need friends to persist, though friends are very helpful; for there are moments when the truth may cost you every friend, & perhaps even your family. (“Do not suppose I have come to bring peace to the world. I come not to bring peace, but a sword.”)

This seems a hard way forward, but as Solzhenitsyn said, hard on the body. For the soul, he said, it is the only way forward, the only path clear. (“My way is easy, & my burden is light.”)