Truth is Highly Overrated


He saw through their duplicity and said to them. . . . (Luke 20:23)

Duplicity means two-faced.  It means double-dealing, insincerity, fraud, chicanery, and shenanigans—and I think it’s gotten a bad rap.  We need duplicity.  In fact, duplicity is the bedrock of civil society.  Without it the fabric of our society would tear apart, the fragile interplay of relationships, from the global to the national to the interpersonal to our inner selves themselves would fracture and our entire social structure would collapse into a heap of quivering honesty.  We’d hate each other’s guts.  Not a pretty picture.

Duplicity is the collective fiction that enables us to get through our day.  It’s a contractual insincerity which keeps us from getting bogged down in unnecessary and unwanted “authenticity” (another highly overrated concept).  Consider the very common exchange:

FRANCINE: How are you?
TOM: Fine.  And you?
FRANCINE: Fine, thank you.
TOM: Glad to hear it.

We’ve all been on one side of this conversation or another, and we all know the following to be true:

1) Francine couldn’t care less how Tom is,
2) Tom is probably not fine, but he knows Francine couldn’t care less,
3) Tom couldn’t care less how Francine is,
4) Francine is probably not fine either, but she knows Tom couldn’t care less either, and
5) The only thing Tom is glad about is to get rid of Francine.  Ditto for Francine.
6) Life goes on.

Duplicity is a proven formula, one practiced every day by everyone who values a functional civil society. Why in the world would anybody want to mess it up?

So here comes Jesus with his x-ray vision.  He can see through duplicity.  “I came into the world to testify to the truth,” he says.  “Everyone on the side of truth listens to me,” he says.  What kind of lame, backwoods idea is that?  Was he born in a barn or something?  Thank goodness for Pilate, whose dismissive retort “What is truth?” put us back on track and paved the way for modern diplomacy, politics, ethics, and low-carb religion.

Look, I don’t really want you to tell me the truth, and you sure as hell don’t want me to tell you the truth.  Duplicity saves us from each other.  It’s the glue that holds this entire enterprise together.  And, if you ask me, it sure makes being a Christian a whole lot easier.


4 Responses

  1. You nailed it ….. honest, I mean that … from the heart .. sincerely … I REALLY DO! I suppose you don’t believe me! Fine … I’m out of here … aarrgghhh!

  2. “Look, I don’t really want you to tell me the truth, and you sure as hell don’t want me to tell you the truth.” You are correct…I’m afraid of what you’d say. *nervous laugh*

  3. Amen, Fred. I try to be honest with people in these daily civilities and people don’t know how to handle it when I dish out the truth.

    I am really enjoying your words of wisdom (?).

  4. Yeah…I’m awkward enough anyway, and then when I try to actually be honest with people…they kind of give me funny looks, like “why can’t you just say ‘I’m fine’ like everyone else? Now I have to be NICE to you.” 😦

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