When I was a senior in high school, I starred as “Thad” in a rousing rendition of the 1980’s musical Cotton Patch Gospel. Didn’t know Thad was one of Jesus’ disciples? Maybe didn’t even know Cotton Patch Gospel was a thing? That’s all beside the point. The point is: The first act ends with a peppy tune called, “We’re Go’in to Atlanta for the Hoedown.” It’s a bit of an ear worm.
Yesterday was such a sweet day. Thanksgiving always is. It actually began the day before when two of my brothers and two of my nieces gathered on Zoom to bake our family’s traditional tart cherry pie together. Flour dusting computer keyboards in four different states. It was great messy fun. And the festivities wrapped up last night with my husband and I Face-timing our son on the opposite side of the country while we ate outside on our patio and watched the sunset. Yup – beautiful.
As a Catholic preacher and educator, I care a whole lot about pursuing truth. It’s the heart of my job description. I also care a whole lot about freedom of speech. When people have the chance to talk openly, we get more information about how things look from varying perspectives. Learning can happen. So, pursuit of truth and free speech go hand in hand. Decouple free speech from the pursuit of truth, however, and you are looking at a disaster.
As I write, I am well aware that we are at the end of a wearying and difficult election season in which many of us have become deeply invested. For me, that investment has included voting early, trying to share articles that I think might be helpful to others, and doing a whole slew of Zoom workshops and retreats on Aquinas and the virtue of truth. Yes, I know that last one might be an odd way of expressing one’s commitment to good citizenship and I’m not sure how great the impact has been in the present moment. But in working with teachers and preachers around this topic now
Kinda like having a lightning rod strapped to your head, isn’t it? This trying to talk about truth right now? At dinner. In the office. In front of a classroom. Standing at a pulpit.
In recent months, many of us have taken to peering out of our window in the morning and jesting, “I wonder what chapter of the book of Revelation I’ll get to witness today?” But when the sadness and stress hits closer to home, when I’m feeling more weary than witty, I sometimes find myself instead asking, “I wonder what chapter from the book of Job we’ll get to live today?”
Yup – this is me standing on top of the Hawaiian volcano Haleakala in January trying to prove the point that I would go to the far reaches of the planet to get a conversation jumpstarted among ministers on the topic of truth and how we might talk about it with those we serve. At the time, I also had plans to go this year to South Africa… and the Philippines… and… well, you can imagine what comes next in this story. Like everyone else this year, I’ve been grounded.