The level of our discourse is so low

It’s hard to imagine exactly where we are today as a people. The level to which our discourse has fallen is so low, our perceptions of reality, Left and Right, are so disparate it is hard to imagine how we got here. One of our old debates is whether art imitates life or life imitates art. Do artists seek to capture the way things are with their expressions, or do their visions actually lead the way, guiding, influencing, directing the flow of our cultural life? In the former, the artist is innocent, a simple observer of the way things are; we should be indebted to them for making it obvious. In the latter conception, though, there is a sinister edge, as artists seek to influence the culture, usually in sinister ways. Violent movies seek to make us more violent. The purveyors of sexual vulgarity hold some secret agenda to make us more base. In this view “artists” are actually practicing a calculated social engineering. To speak in (perhaps dangerous) generalities, conservatives are more likely to see the latter, leading some to enjoy their self-righteous jeremiads against the influence of godless secularism. Liberals, on the other stereotypical hand, take things in stride, resigned that art just reflects who we already are. And no degree of degradation, for some liberals, seems too low. The same unbearable divide seems to separate Left and Right on Truth these days. Listen to Fox News and you get one “truth.” Listen to MSNBC (“Fox for Liberals”) and you get another, entirely different “truth.” For all practical purposes, there is no Truth – just your truth and my truth. Whether our President is the cause or the effect of such a sad state of affairs (“Trump imitates Untruth” or “Untruth imitates Trump”), it can hardly be denied that the current Administration is doing its daily business as we stand watch over the death of Truth. Think what you may about the Presidents’ official mouthpieces, they do a better job of wading through the morass, plodding through the muck of untruth than anyone I’ve ever seen. Ask a simple question, any simple question, and you’ll get a three-page diatribe against Obamacare. It doesn’t matter the subject, the evading and avoiding and qualifying and denying and equivocating and redefining is brilliant, if unbearable. And when they’re finished, you can’t even remember what the simple question was. It’s absolutely amazing. And this kind of doublespeak, which is our politics de jour, will be our demise. Maybe it’s a vast left-wing conspiracy. If so, the liberals are doing a fabulous job, because we are enduring the longest call to defend the veracity of some audacious presidential pronouncement our nation has ever experienced. The midnight tweets suggest all the bad covfefe will end no time soon. As I have said so many times, I will keep saying: my concerns are not based on partisan loyalty or partisan criticism – and there is so much more at stake than politics. The moral character of our nation is on trial. That character starts with the ability to discern and the courage to stand for Truth. “A man’s word is his bond,” is how we used to say it. Another authority says, “Thou shalt not bear false witness.” And Jesus said, “Let your ‘yes’ be ‘yes’ and your ‘no’ be ‘no.’” It’s time for our leaders to quit playing partisan politics and demand a simple honesty – and before either party goes lecturing the president, they should start practicing what they preach. It’s time for the Church to quit pandering for political power (that’s not where our strength comes from) and start standing for Truth. The issue is not the Paris Climate Agreement, radical Islamic terrorism, Obamacare, or any of the other hot button issues. The issue is integrity. I’m not sure we have any, anymore. But it wouldn’t be that hard to regain – and the President should lead the way. Just speak the truth. (Dr. Russ Dean is a graduate of Clinton High School. He co-pastors Park Road Baptist Church in Charlotte with his wife, Rev. Amy Dean, a native of Clinton and also a graduate of CHS.)

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