Friday, October 3, 2014

To Tell the Truth

     Catherine McLeod is an investigative reporter for a major Denver newspaper in a relatively new mystery-novel series by Boulder author Margaret Coel.  In the opening scene of the first book, Blood Memory, Catherine is almost the victim of a serious crime, and witnesses the shooting of a friend.  After a harrowing night, she goes into her office the following day, to be met by applause from her co-workers.  Then she is summoned into the boss's office where, after some "comforting" words, she is given into the hands of another investigative reporter who proceeds to grill her about her experience.  I couldn't help but wonder whether or not Catherine would, subsequently, change the way she went about her job after being subject to the same kind of treatment she was accustomed to meting out.  (And I haven't read enough of the books to know!)
        A couple of clichés sprang to mind:  "What's good for the goose is good for the gander" and "The shoe's on the other foot, now!".  But what I also felt was some sympathy for Catherine; she was in a VERY difficult situation and wasn't being allowed to deal with it on her own terms.  What I saw was an age-old and constant phenomenon:  someone gets so entangled in the various webs of their life that they cease to see them, or even realize that they are entangled.  It may take a "knock upside the head" to get that person to wake up to their predicament.  Waking up is one thing, however, and acting on the realization is something different.
        "Wake up and do things differently" is a theme of the Hebrew prophet Hosea, which I've been reading the last few days.  As was the case with many of his prophetic colleagues, Hosea rails against the complacency of his compatriots.  He points out that they had adopted the conviction that certain rituals and practices were all that was really necessary to be faithful to God. He accuses them of ignoring the more central concerns of their religion:  justice, compassion, mercy, etc.  And he asserts (on behalf of God) that they will soon receive their just desserts.
         Hosea was not alone, as I've suggested.  Not only did his prophetic contemporaries make similar accusations, but many of the Hebrew prophets in centuries to follow also criticized this pattern.  Turning a sympathetic eye towards the "people", I can't imagine that they consciously decided to ignore the "weightier matters", but that habit, and a desire for doing the easy things, simply led them down an, ultimately, problematic path.  But correction didn't -- and doesn't -- come easy.  The prophets often suffered for telling the truth, and the people suffered for not listening.
       I don't believe that any of us willingly choose to adopt erroneous ideas, or choose to take the wrong road.  As fallible humans, however, we often find ourselves caught up in "wrong-thinking" without realizing it.  Sometimes it's habit; sometimes it's simply incomplete knowledge (that we assume is complete).  But what both Catherine McLeod (or Margaret Coel) and Hosea have reminded me is that sympathy is often a good thing to extend to the one in "error", as well as that listening to the correcting truth may be a life-giving action.
        What's that you say . . . . . ?

Chaplain Gary

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