C. Christopher Smith- Love, Truth, and Conversation: The Way Forward

November 3, 2017 — Leave a comment

 

Love, Truth, and Conversation:
The Way Forward

 

C. Christopher Smith

 

The following is an editorial that will appear in the
Advent 2017 issue of our quarterly magazine.

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“The US is experiencing a deep epistemic breach, a split not just in what we value or want, but in who we trust, how we come to know things, and what we believe we know — what we believe exists, is true, has happened and is happening.”
– David Roberts, America is Facing An Epistemic Crisis, Vox.com

 

One of the most unsettling realities of Donald Trump’s presidency is his apparent assault on the institutions by which American society has traditionally measured and assessed truthfulness – particularly the institutions of science and freedom of the press. A cynic might posit that these institutions, and the truths that they uncover in the course of their work, might be taken as a threat to the interests of global corporations. Climate change, for instance, poses a threat to the coal and petroleum industries, and perhaps to a lesser extent the automotive industry and all its ancillaries. Undermine a society’s tools for discerning truth, the logic goes, and darkness prevails, along with all those who profit from darkness.

The instability of our methods of knowing is not a particularly new development, but rather a product of a long history of fragmentation, stretching back decades and even centuries. The fruits of this fragmentation are a growing distrust of one another and of the institutions that we hold in common.

As the people of God, who have devoted ourselves to the Truth, how do we move forward in this age in which the very possibility of truth is coming under siege? First, we have to be cognizant that the situation in which we find ourselves has a long history and is not going to be fixed overnight, or likely even in our lifetimes. Second, we have to commit ourselves to the wholehearted pursuit of truth with our brothers and sisters in the faith, beginning with the particular people in our local churches. Yes, we will be divided on many things, but we must exercise patience and forbearance that will hold us together in dark, tumultuous times in which the truth is not immediately clear. Let us be known for our love for one another that runs deeper than our disagreements, and our dogged commitment to seeking the truth. As we continue in conversation with one another, guided by these two virtues, we will begin to cultivate the sort of trust we need to agree upon and establish new institutions that make further pursuit of truth possible.

Long before Donald Trump emerged as potential, major party, presidential candidate, we at The Englewood Review of Books were advocating for love, truth, and conversation. The stories spilled out on the pages of books are not always true, but there they sit in black and white, inviting us to wrestle with them. They ask us for our discernment: what is true, what is false, and – in humility – what could yet emerge as either truth or falsehood. At their best, books invite us into a conversation about ourselves, about the world we live in, and about our Creator.

These are dark times, and seem to get darker every day, but what is the bedrock into which we stake our hopes for a brighter future? Wealth, political advantage, a Pharisaical leg up in the culture wars? Me, I’m staking my hope on love, truth, and conversation, rooted in the story of Jesus of Nazareth and God’s plan for healing and restoring creation. I am humbled that I’ve been able to persist in this work with The ERB for a decade, and I am grateful for all of you who read, think about, and even question our work. The days may be dark, but each one serves to convince me of the importance of the work we do and of the light and hope to be found on this journey.

In this Advent season, we wait for the light of the Christ child, but we do not wait without hope.  May the peace of Christ fall upon you, and may it guide you ever deeper into love, truth, and conversation.

This editorial will appear in the
Advent 2017 issue of our quarterly magazine.

***** Not a Subscriber? 
SUBSCRIBE NOW and be sure to
receive this coming issue!

IMAGE CREDIT: Sarahmirk, Creative Commons License, via Wikimedia Commons (Cropped)