Politicians frequently have a problem with truth and lies.  Herod did, as we have seen.  So too did Pontius Pilate, who asked Jesus before he condemned him to death, “What is Truth?”

Flags of the insurrectionists as they approached the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021. Photo by Blink O’fanaye on Flickr.

On January 6, the day for officially certifying the presidential election by congress, the president gave a speech urging his followers, wrapped in the Big Lie as well as in confederate flags and American flags and anti-semitic t-shirts and other regalia of white supremacy, to storm the capitol building where the joint session was taking place.

The rest is history.

People say, “this is not us.”  I disagree.  It is us.  It is America’s 500 years of genocide on display and 400 years of slavery and racism on display; and 200 years of Jim Crow on display; and 400 years of white privilege on display; and an old story of police allowing evil by whites to go unanswered while those struggling or marching for justice such as Black Lives Matter gets arrested and often shot on the spot. 

Sadly, a big chunk of American fundamentalist religion backed the Big Lie (one flag waved inside the capitol along with the confederate flag was a “Jesus” flag).  It is us though it is not all of us.

Gallows constructed during the 2021 storming of the United States Capitol.
Photo by Tyler Merbler on Wikimedia Commons

The pus of our nation’s sick body politic has come out for us and all the world to see.  This can be a very positive moment for it allows us to face the wounds and trauma of our common history.  It is a moment of truth.  When the Big Lie breaks down, truth may emerge.  Only the truth can make us free. 

The Big Lie we spoke of yesterday which declared a stolen election was disseminated by the president’s fellow politicians.  Indeed, even after being forced to run for their lives from the halls of congress on January 6, 145 congress people voted to carry on the Lie and deny the president-elect his duly won electoral votes.  To forsake a solemn oath of office to defend the constitution is a lie. 

The logo for the social networking website Parler, shut down for being a platform for coordination of the January 6 attack on the Capitol.

When we talk about lying vs truth-telling we are not speaking just of individual’s lies.   We are also talking of corporate actions and lies.  The media corporations became spreader of lies—indeed super-spreaders of lies–just like no mask-wearing became a spreader of the virus.  Fox News enters many American homes.  So do Rush Limbaugh and his many imitators, frequently full of venom and hatred and lies to tell.  Social media, bounded by few if any parameters, gets on board too as a superspreader.  All of it to cheer on a president offering up the Big Lie about a coming election—his own—that he could only lose if there was fraud.

Martin Buber says that only humans lie.  No other species lies or tells Big Lies.  A Big Lie goes a very long way—especially when the media and an entire political party with its senators and congress people, governors and state representatives, spread it.

See Matthew Fox, Sins of the Spirit, Blessings of the Flesh: Transforming Evil in Soul and Society, pp. 321, xx-xxviii.

Banner Image: “Jesus 2020” flag at the January 6, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Photo by Brett Davis on Flickr.

What does it mean to you to learn from Martin Buber that only humans lie?  What follows from that?  Does that tell us something about our beauty as a species (as well as about our capacity for evil)?  Does it tell us that we are born truth seekers and truth tellers?

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7 thoughts on “The Big Lie on the March”

  1. Avatar

    I am very disappointed for your 1 sided view of the situation. You show no compassion or understanding to those you accuse of the big lie. That is the bigger problem. I had looked forward to reading the book natural grace. Not so now.

    1. Avatar
      Bertina M Povenmire

      You’ve got a point. We have lost touch with each other. Too many of us fall by the wayside the second they’re born. Others are just forgotten when the economy changes and they are not needed anymore, and if they’re not useful in our capitalist system, they’re forgotten. But many of the participants in the group that attacked the Capitol are not needy, for example some of the representatives and senators. They have education, health care, privileges that we pay for. How did they get to the point where they are willing to sell out the Founding Fathers’ basic principles of democracy for political and financial gain? What are we teaching our children–all our children in public education? Why can we not bring ourselves to find the money to give the kind of education to all children that the rich can afford for their own children at $16,000 or so a year? What are children taught in Sunday school–to look to a savior over the clouds to solve their problems instead of to each other and their own ability? Is it easier to put up a billboard that says “Jesus loves you” than loving them ourselves? Quantum physics teaches that everyone and everything in the universe is connected. We live with millions of people who suffer, with millions of animals who are tortured all their lives, and then we eat their flesh. Do we really think we can live happily and in peace just because we don’t see them, because we have lost our senses to connect with our environment? Religion is a word that means to reconnect–we need to look and listen to each other.

    2. Avatar

      Caley, there is a way for us to show compassion for those who have accepted the big lie. First however, as Matthew is doing, it must be called out. There is a very good article, the link to which I will post, that helps explain where the big lie goes when unquestioned. I suggest you stick with this article. It’s really not that long, and the historical context stories at the beginning are important for understanding the writer’s point; but this paragraph is particularly salient: “When thinking turns extreme, there is little room for nuance or aberration from the narrow mindset deemed acceptable. People become programmed to hear what they want to hear and tortured by cognitive dissonance when their own dogma does not stand to reason. When groups become so extreme in their thinking that they fail to realize the merits of an opinion from outside their ‘tribe’ or when partisan fealty fuses into one’s identity, one’s values ultimately suffer.”
      Me again: Many of our well-meaning friends and family are being tormented by cognitive dissonance right now; tenderness toward them as they experience it and find their way through it may be the best way forward. At least that is something worth considering. Here’s the link: https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/12/opinions/way-to-stop-violent-extremists-lubetzky/index.html?fbclid=IwAR0mHLsey8xzQgCeV8QslQeS5oqJMcMNiidl0ArY1ex4jHJdylEA19i3SwM

  2. Avatar

    The naked truth of America’s history reveal: a bitter pill to swallow, yes; and the only cure for
    the “Trump Big Lie”, hopefully! Thank you, Matthew, for challenging us all again to truth-telling!

  3. Avatar

    The word ‘uni-verse’ means a turn to the One.
    Jesus’ invocation was that we all be as he and the creator are one. He often employs metaphors from Nature to make his point.
    This is expressed in a simple equation: 1x1x1x1x1…repeated to infinity=ONE

  4. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
    Richard Reich-Kuykendall

    I agree with Michele, that “there is a way for us to show compassion for those who have accepted the big lie. First however, as Matthew is doing, it must be called out.” And this is the “truth” of the matter, that before any issue can be dealt with it must be named and called out. Matthew is a reformer, that’s what he does. He even has a book that he wrote about this titled, A NEW REFORMATION. Check it out!

  5. Avatar

    It is no wonder that Trump believes his mission is to trumpet and enact God’s will when powerful prophets are saying to Trump and many evangelical Christians, that Jesus, God, have personally revealed to them this. I have listened to and observed these ‘prophets’. Externally, they are impressive: fasting, healing, relating amazing visions, etc, etc. I feel sorry for them and their flocks who think they have found a way out of their tired and desperate lives. Using mysticism evil is penetrating deep into people’s hearts. This is where the looming Great Battle is to be won or lost: in each heart. The heart that wholly implores the mercy of God cannot be deceived, or else Jesus Christ would have been wasting his time.

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