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Saturday, November 7, 2015

Man That's Cool!

To them, I said, the truth would be literally nothing but the shadows of the images. (The Republic (Plato) Book 7.)

What “enemy” or “false god” in your life would you like to have God topple? How will you take steps this week to cooperate? (Serendipity Bible Fourth Edition, page 399).

My toughest challenge has been to grapple with the god of appearances. Starting particularly in my teenage years, I became obsessed with appearances. I wanted to be seen riding in a cool car, wearing cool clothes, having cool friends, possessing cool intelligence and education, worshiping a cool religion, behaving in a cool way, liking cool things, buying cool things, spending time in cool places, having cool friends. Don’t let the word “cool” fool you. This was way more than a callow youth preoccupation, but hounds me even today. This forms the primary challenge to personal integrity. I want to “appear right” even if it means self betrayal – even if it means a lie.

A particularly challenging area in this regard is what must be called “social graces”. That is, I can justify any untruth by telling myself that prevarication in word or deed is the price of social grace. Though I disagree with you about a matter to the extent that it reaches to the depth of my being, I can justify “polite” lying and deceit by telling myself I am doing this all for “your benefit.”  Never is it done out of selfish regard for my own safety or status. The essential betrayal in all this is in substituting long-term validation for short-term expediency. Short-term expediency is the heart and soul of “appearance worship” for long-term interests always align with truth.

The way out of this quagmire of deceit is wholeness and personal integrity. As we once yearned to be “cool” in appearances, we must yearn to be loyal to long-term interests which always include expressions of truth. To put it bluntly, we must confound the inherent insecurity of man: we must work to make truth-telling more “cool” than prevarication by identifying with the “coolest” of teams.  We must come to see the team of Socrates and Christ as more “cool” than the “gross” lovers of short-term interest. 

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