Just because the writer has finished writing does not mean the story has ended.
— Joe Gould’s Secret
Peter asked her, “Tell me, is this the price you and Ananias got for the land?”
“Yes,” she said, “that is the price.”
Peter said to her, “How could you agree to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also.”
At that moment she fell down at his feet and died. Then the young men came in and, finding her dead, carried her out and buried her beside her husband.
— Acts 5:8-10
I am a liar.
I am not sure when I became a liar. Perhaps it coincided with my call to be a preacher.
More than likely it was passed down from my father through the blood like the rare bone disease that we shared. He broke his arms. I broke my legs. We were both liars.
My father would lie to mother. It was never about the big things, at least to my knowledge. It was about how he spent money and where he had been. The money had not been spent on sins of the flesh, liquor or tobacco. And the time was not with other women, at least to my knowledge. The money had been spent on sins of the Spirit. And if I caught him in a lie his standard response was, “Your mother cannot handle the truth.”
I never understood the concept of “white lies.” He made it seem as if shading or withholding the truth was a noble thing, something in my mother’s best interest. And perhaps it was.
As a part of being in graduate school I was required to take the Minnesota
Multi-Phasic examination and discuss the results with a counselor. The counselor told me that my answers revealed that I was dishonest. The test was structured in such a way as to determine the truthfulness of my answers about myself. When my classmates asked me about the results of my MMP I told them it revealed nothing of importance.
Of all the things I have felt about being in love, perhaps the most secret longing has been to find that one person with whom I could be completely honest …
honest about fear and pain,
honest about time and money,
honest about sex and God,
honest about my sins of the Spirit.
In The Gospel of John, we read of Jesus … “… he was full of grace and truth.” Truth in and of itself can be very harsh …
“Your hat is ugly.”
“Your choice in men is deplorable.”
“You goddamn liar!”
For grace and truth to exist in perfect balance is a divine act. Grace is not to create “white lies” that assume we cannot handle the truth. Grace is that what has surrounded us with such lavish love that anything less than the truth would be an insult …
“Your hat is ugly, but you gotta love that face!”
“Your choice in men is deplorable. But what the hell, life is short.”
“You goddamn liar! Let’s go have a beer.”
I am lying less these days. But, on the other hand, I am also preaching less.
While rummaging through my father’s papers tonight I ran across one of his college report cards.
Linfield College Grade Report
2nd Semester … 1937-38 … for Jenkins, Homer
Dept. No. Subject Grade
Physics 4 Photography W
Psy. 6 Vocational Guidance W
Hist. 2 Contemp. Hist. W
Sp. 10 Argumentation W
Hist. 4 World Since 1914 W
Soc. 2 Contemp. Society W
Psy. 6 Avocational Guidance F
Your son/daughter has earned __0__ credit hours and __0__ quality hours this past semester. Your son/daughter has now a total of __1.3__ semester hours and __1.3__ quality hours.
You will never understand the utter irony of my father failing Avocational Guidance.