Alternative Facts: Taking a Stand For Truth

victoriaI’m on a journey to read at least one book a month through 2017. Most recently I read Victoria, the new historical fiction based on the life of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom. The author, Daisy Goodwin, wrote the book while she was also writing the story for the Masterpiece mini-series on PBS. The book itself is a relative quick read. There is a lot of dialogue and not much dead space between events. The characters are quite engaging and I found myself enjoying the read.

Through the book I also realized that I don’t know a whole lot about British history and government processes (I’m embarrassed to think that the average Brit knows more about American history and government than we do theirs, but I haven’t asked any Brits about it). The book inspired me to dive deeper into the characters and history surrounding the narrative.  That’s the neat thing about historical fiction – you’re given dialogue and relationships that are from the author’s imagination, yet the author’s imagination is guided and constrained by actual people and events. In the case of Victoria, Daisy Goodwin used history and the Queen’s own diaries to help create her telling of the story. Nevertheless, we cannot forget that the truth of the story must be balanced against the creative license of Ms. Goodwin.

This got me thinking about current events and the brouhaha about truth vs. “alternative facts.” Before you jump to conclusions, I’m not posting to comment on any particular fact or person. I’m merely dialoguing about truth in general. Regardless of a person’s personal view of religion, politics, relationships, or ANYTHING, one cannot deny that there is such a thing as objective truth. 2+2 is always going to equal 4. Quantitative measurements are objective – it’s only qualitative measurements that move into subjectivity. Still, there is objective truth. We may interpret historical events in different ways, but we can objectively point to those historical events.

As Christians, we are called to be people of truth. A simple search of the word “truth” in the Bible will yield hundreds of results.

  • Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long. (Psalm 25:5)
  • Whoever speaks the truth gives honest evidence, but a false witness utters deceit. (Proverbs 12:17)
  • I did not speak in secret, in a land of darkness; I did not say to the offspring of Jacob, ‘Seek me in vain.’ I the Lord speak the truth; I declare what is right. (Isaiah 45:19)
  • And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)

The Bible is FILLED with the idea that we are supposed to be people of truth because God IS truth. So if God IS truth, then telling untruths is CONTRARY to the very nature of God. That means that everyone who follows God should be adamantly opposed to the spreading of untruth. That is to say, Christians ought to be the first to stand up and say, “Wait, that’s not true. That’s a deception. That’s fraudulent. That’s a lie!”

deceive-1299043_1280But to often we don’t. We perpetuate falsehoods and untruths because they fit our framework for thinking about and reacting to the world around us. It’s easier to accept some fabrications because truths make us uncomfortable. But comfort isn’t part of the package when it comes to following Jesus. Sure, eternity in heaven will be comfortable in the presence of God, but this life isn’t promised to be a life of ease.

As people called to pursue justice and righteousness and truth, we will need to stand against deceptions wherever we see them.

Because God.Is.Truth.

TV Show Review: Mercy Street

Mercy StreetEvery once in a while you’ll come across a tv show that captures your interest and imagination from the very first few minutes in. Downton Abbey was such a show.

Mercy Street is not.

Oh, I wanted to be a believer. I’m a history buff and a big fan of historical fiction. I enjoy seeing how writers can take real history and create fictional stories in and around real events and lives. I’m also a fan of PBS – it’s a terrific channel with some great programming. When I saw the trailers for Mercy Street, the first original series to come to PBS in years, I was excited.

It is executive produced by Ridley Scott. The cast includes Gary Cole and Donna Murphy. It should be EPIC! Right? Right? Yet it falls short.

The Rundown

The cinematography is fine. Not great, just fine. It’s a tv show, so normally you don’t go into it thinking you’re going to seeing something spectacular. Perhaps we’ve been spoiled with Downton Abbey, which DID have spectacular cinematography and came across more as art than television. I guess that’s my biggest beef with Mercy Street (well, that and the Union doctor who insists that the war isn’t about slavery at all but rather about preserving the Republic).

It’s just a tv show. It isn’t art.

The dialogue is painful in places. There were some questionable casting decisions. The delivery of the performances is bland at best and painful at worst. The story-line itself drags and we spend an hour really going nowhere. Some of the characters seemed better suited to be in a 21st century setting (which I’m not yet sure if the fault is with the actors or with the writing). And you can thank Ridley Scott, I’m sure, for the graphic gore of a Civil War era hospital. All said and done, it felt lackluster. My wife and I have yet to determine if we’re going to stick around for episode 2.

The Story

Mercy Street is about a Virginia hotel that is turned into a makeshift hospital. Well, I suppose it’s REALLY about the people in and around the hospital. Think ER in an 1864 setting.

Here’s the recipe:

  1. Doctors vs. Nurses
  2. Medical professionals do crazy things to save patients
  3. Romance and relationships develop throughout the whole thing
  4. Hospital personnel wrestle with personal drama/issues.
  5. Throw in a healthy mix of slavery and North vs. South story-line.
  6. Mix vigorously for 60 minutes. Pour into PBS-sized containers and served chilled.

From a biblical point of view, my favorite part is the discussion on the universality of humanity. One of the docs says something to the effect that there is no blue blood or grey blood – Soldiers are Soldiers. It’s a good point that Christians often forget. All humanity is made in God’s image. That means there is inherent value in every individual.

Where the show falls short, though, is that the doctor who espouses this “all blood is the same” ideology only applies it to white troops and fails to see how the same reasoning applies to people of color. There is no white blood or black blood – people are people. Yes, one of the nurses calls the doctor’s view of race “unenlightened,” but it goes beyond enlightenment. It’s about a basic biblical understanding of humanity and the image of God. I believe this can be a point all Christians can and should get behind.

Will I watch the next episode? I don’t know. Maybe. But I’m not excited about it.

Now ask me if I’m excited about the next episode of Downton Abbey…  😉