So let’s get back to this whole Rob Reiner thing. I’ve enjoyed thinking this through. Thanks for reading.
If you have no idea what I am talking about, get up to speed here.
This series of tweets is revealing:
These tweets seem to imply that “truth-telling” exists in a vacuum. For example, I am sure that there are a lot of “truths” that all of us could air in public. But just because something is true doesn’t always mean that we should air it. Does “truth-telling” really happen outside of a political or cultural narrative that might require us to be selective in our truth-telling?
When does one speak “truth” and when does one hold back, knowing that if they “go there” it could also cause irreparable damage to another truth or perhaps a greater truth? When do we consider the effect such “truth-telling” has on our neighbors or family? Or do we just “speak our truth” and damn the larger consequences?
How do we think about our “truth-telling” in the context of other “truths” that might be inconvenient or might not fit a particular brand or platform? Do we air those truths as well?
These tweets sound like the very type of binary, uncontextualized rhetoric that we hear from the Christian nationalists.
I once thought in similar ways. Then I learned that this kind of “truth-telling” did not get me anywhere in helping my fellow evangelicals understand the dangers of Christian nationalism, Trumpism, etc. (Check it out, it’s all recorded here at this blog–close to fifteen years of daily posts). For example, every time I left an argument with my Trump-loving father, I drove away patting myself on my back because I was on the side of “truth.” As a result, our relationship was damaged for several years. (Things are better now). My relationship with my father was more important to me than making sure he knew the “truth.” Every time I appeared on television or in print “telling the truth,” I alienated people in my congregation and the larger evangelical world–brothers and sisters in Christ– making it very difficult for me to reach them with such truth.
Truth-telling is important. Many times it is absolutely essential. I’ve tried to do a lot of it over the years. Sometimes I’ve done it better than at other times. I want to continue to do it. Indeed people like Kristin Kobes Du Mez and others should be commended for such truth-telling. But truth-telling doesn’t always exist in a vacuum and to raise questions about the pundits, scholars, and influencers who have chosen to “tell the truth” to Rob Reiner’s audience is not a failure to be a truth-teller.