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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Lies, Veterans, Memories, and Blumenthals

By Rick Pearcey • May 20, 2010, 01:04 PM

It seems that dashing self-described Vietnam war veteran Richard Blumenthal (otherwise known as the attorney general of Connecticut) "may have helped organize a Toys for Tots drive as a member of the Marine Corps Reserve, according to the New York Times," writes George Neumayr at American Spectator.

"This task, among other stateside ones, became in Blumenthal's telling over the years 'service in Vietnam.' He says now that he simply misspoke -- that he meant to say he served 'during' the Vietnam war, not 'in' the Vietnam war."


Said the lawyer.

After being presented with the videotape.

A friend of mine once asked whether a certain famous household name would "lie through his teeth" about a certain matter -- the pretended authorship of a book that would help his PR image as a great Christian intellect, for example.

Well, given the design of the human body, there really isn't much of an alternative. One could try smoke signals, I suppose. But this may upset the rhythm of an awards dinner, religious conference, or Capitol Hill press event.

The physiological fact is that most lying requires a "lying through one's teeth." And sometimes, unfortunately, a bigger audience and a bigger lie make for a more effective "lying through one's teeth."

This technique is not quite a trade secret known to assorted conmen in politics, science, religion, journalism, and bus terminals.

In fact, the next time you want to see that kind of practice on display, simply watch a member of the federal government swear allegiance to protect and defend the U.S. Constitution. No one is saying everyone who takes the oath these days is lying, but one might not be in the wrong to conclude that the truth-tellers in this instance are in the minority.

What's the answer?

For a good start, try this: "Test everything." That is, practice a healthy and humane skepticism rooted in truth about who we are as imperfect creatures (by choice) nevertheless striving for wholeness and perfection because we are, after all, still created in the image of God.

We are broken, yes, but not destroyed. Marred, yes, but not pieces of junk to discard.

And so, in politics, religion, ministry, science, schooling, and car sales: Test everything. Examine what is said and what is done. Do not accept anything "on faith" -- that is, on the basis of that weakened, nonbiblical concept of "faith" acceptable to the ACLU and privatized religious circles today. Instead, maintain your critical distance and follow the evidence wherever it leads.

Testing everything is essential to who you are as a human being, created in the image of God -- a God, by the way, who is a verifiable public figure who puts a premium on human brain power and freedom of thought.

And so also, a proper critical distance is essential to living freely and with dignity in what is now a broken world. As you may have noticed, it is a world full of imperfect people, some of whom want to control every aspect of your lives and don't mind applying requisite doses of propaganda, violence, and oppression to get the job done.

By way of contrast, in their Judeo-Christian realism, rooted in history, the Founders understood the fallibility of man. And certainly we should understand that nothing magical happens just because a guy or gal with a smile, honest eyes, and a great handshake occupies the White House, sits on Capitol Hill, stands behind a pulpit, carries a Ph.D. around, wears a white coat, or has "written" 27 books.

"Test everything" won't guarantee perfection in an imperfect world, but it will open the door to what thinker Francis Schaeffer called "substantial healing" in our daily lives, including our political lives.

In the struggle against those who "lie through their teeth" to advance their agendas, a critical distance that leads to substantial healing in human freedom beats magical thinking every time.

It's one of the "blessings of liberty" from the One who gives the blessings that the federal government does not have and, therefore, can never ever give. This is one way you know, for all of the pie-in-the-sky promises of a secular Heaven on earth of "equality," the government is not God and nobody's Savior. 

One could say or suggest otherwise, but that would be to lie through one's teeth.