“Speak Your Truth”?

“Speak Your Truth”?

Monday’s Column: Neal At The Cross

pollard

Neal Pollard

“Speaking your truth means that you stay true to who you are, whether it’s your feelings, opinions, or morals. Don’t hide what you feel for the sake of someone else’s approval of you, it shouldn’t work that way (sic). Rather, you should stay true to your own opinion and voices, no matter what anyone else may think. While it’s easier said than done, you won’t ever regret speaking your truth” (source). Look at website after blog post, philosopher after supposed pundit, and you get further definitions of what people mean to convey by the phrase, “Speak your truth.” How did the phrase originate? 

Huffington Post credits Oprah Winfrey in a speech at The Golden Globes in 2018. She advocated creating positive change by “speaking your truth.” The article’s writer, Claire Fallon, seemed shocked and aghast at backlash to the phrase. Like Byron Tau of The Wall Street Journal, who tweeted, “Oprah employed a phrase that I’ve noticed a lot of other celebrity (sic) using these days: ‘your truth’ instead of ‘the truth.’ Why that phrasing? ‘Your truth’ undermines the idea of a shared set of common facts'” (1/8/18). She quoted Joseph A. Wulfsohn, who objected, “When we rely on ‘our truths,’ we get to choose what to believe.” Fallon defended the phrase as an exhortation for the less powerful to find their own voices and credited a 1927 poem as the genesis of the phrase, in a Max Ehrmann poem entitled “Desiderata” (source). 

So while there can be great merit and value to one respecting the feelings and opinions of others or advocating for those without power, there is inherent danger in the very idea of individual, subjective truth. In her excellent book, Total Truth, Nancy Pearcey quotes Udo Middelmann, who said we learn about objective truth from the time we are born. She then writes, “When a baby crawls to the edge of the crib and bumps his head against the wooden bars, he learns in a painful way that reality is objective. When a toddler tilts his high chair back until it falls to the floor, he learns that there is an objective structure to the universe. Reality does not bend itself to our subjective desires–a lesson that can be painful to learn even for adults. Thus we can confidently reject any philosophical position that leads to subjectivism. Why? Because it fails to account for what ordinary experience teaches us day by day. It is in tension with the data of experience” (395). 

Our calling is much higher than being true to self, following our own feelings, opinions, and morals. So much can distort and deform these things–selfishness, fleshly desires, improper and immoral guides and guidance, etc. (cf. Eph. 2:1-3; 4:17-19). Truth is transcendent (existing apart from and not subject to the material universe) and immutable (unchanging over time or unable to be changed). 

  • It can be practiced (John 3:21)
  • It can be known and it emancipates (John 8:32)
  • It is exclusive (John 14:6)
  • It is something we can be guided into, and it is exhaustive (John 16:13)

Men try to suppress it (Rom. 1:18), exchange it for a lie (Rom. 1:25), and disobey it (Rom. 2:8). But, philosophy defeats the idea of subjective truth (“your truth” and “my truth”) and Scripture makes clear that there is only one truth. You don’t have your truth and neither do I. God reveals the truth to us, and He holds us accountable to follow it. 

GoFindMe

GoFindMe

Neal Pollard

San Diego entrepreneurs Brad Damphousse and Andy Ballester started GoFundMe “as a way to help individuals and small charities raise money for good causes” (WSJ). Most people have heard of this “crowdfunding site” and have even contributed. MacMillan and Tan report, “Its members now raise about $100 million in donations per month.” But, Forbes Magazine revealed how some have used such sites for the ridiculous, including Zach Brown who raised $55,492 from 6,911 backers to make potato salad (Forbes). I have seen some pretty audacious, if not questionable, uses of such sites to fund events and circumstances.

But I’d like to alert you to an infinitely greater need that people all around you every day have. They have surmounted a debt they cannot possibly repay. Their circumstances are desperate, far beyond eviction, lawsuits, or bankruptcy.  A billion people giving all their material resources could not satisfy that debt. Despite this, I have never seen even one of them advertise, beg, or solicit help to resolve their circumstance. In an incredible turn of events, it is incumbent upon you and me to find them and offer them aid. They usually cannot identify the need, much less articulate it. But you and I know their need, and the expectation falls squarely upon our shoulders to meet it.

If they were to put it into words, they would say, “Go find me!” How could we turn a callous heart away from such a desperate need? May we muster the courage and heart to, in the words of the old quartet hymn, “go out and win, rescue from sin, day’s almost done, low sinks the sun. Souls are crying, men are dying, win the lost at any cost.”

Consider these passages, too:

Micah 6:6-8
1 Peter 1:18-19
Luke 15
Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16; Luke 24:46-49

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“THE GM NOD”

“THE GM NOD”

 

Neal Pollard

The Wall Street Journal says General Motors made a “deadly defect in ignition switches used on as many as 2.6 million cars” (blogs.wsj.com, Spector, White, et al). The switches could suddenly slip from the on position, “stalling the vehicles and disabling airbags” (ibid.).  But, it didn’t get fixed and, according to WSJ’s Mike Ramsey and Jeff Bennett, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is certain that there were more than the 13 deaths as GM has been maintaining.  Some safety experts speculate that the number could be as high as 100 (blogs.wsj.com).  A 315 page report on the GM corporate culture reveals that solutions were proposed but died in committees. “But determining the identity of an actual decision maker was impenetrable. No single person owned any decision” (ibid.). The phenomenon was dubbed “the GM nod” or “the GM salute,” where everyone agreed that something should be done but nobody did anything.

A proposal is made, everyone agrees it should be enacted, and then everyone thinks someone else will do it and not them. There is no taking of ownership or accepting of responsibility.  “Someone” will handle it.  But, nobody did!

It is easy to fall into this way of thinking.  When sermons are preached on evangelism or encouraging wayward members, we nod at its importance.  When announcements are made of those facing surgery or being hospitalized and visits are encouraged, we nod that it should happen.  We’re asked to pray for someone and we sympathetically nod. Appeals to attend worship services and Bible classes may be met with a nod.  Calls for duty, involvement, and commitment might get a dutiful nod.

Sometimes, though, the nod is the last action we take.  We’re busy.  It’s not our job.  Someone will do it, but not me.

Let’s be challenged to be moved by right, scriptural calls to action.  Let’s not assume someone else will do it.  Let’s take these appeals personally and act accordingly.