Hello, merry and mystical friends!
My songwriting challenge continues this week. The subject this time is honesty: a time-honored teaching of the Hebrew tradition, to which Jesus added his own unique twist. The hymn I’ve written is just called “Truth”, and that’s what it’s about: speaking truth in love, speaking truth to power, living truthfully, praying truthfully, and all that good stuff.
There’s a story in Chapter 18 of the Gospel of John about a meeting between Pontius Pilate and Jesus. At one point, Jesus says, “For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” Pilate responds, “What is truth?” I never know how to read that line aloud. Is it a world-weary but honest question? Is Pilate mocking Jesus—so I should read it with a bit of an eye roll? Or is Pilate introducing Late Antiquity’s version of postmodern philosophy?
What is truth? I don’t know. Or, to express my ignorance in a more educated way, I might answer him: “Pontius—can I call you Pontius—the instability of your question leaves me with several contradictorily layered responses whose interconnectivity cannot express the logocentric coherency you seek. I can only say that reality is more uneven and its (mis)representations more untrustworthy that we have time here to explore.” (That’s quoted from Stephen Katz, “How to Speak and Write Postmodern”, in The Truth about the Truth, Walter Truett Anderson, ed.) Maybe Pilate would be so confused by that answer that he’d forget to have me flogged.
What is truth? I don’t know, but I know God knows, so I wrote this hymn. As always, sheet music for “Truth” is available in our Free Stuff area.
Loved your account of the story in the Gospel of John–and the hymn, too.
Good words. Good thought. Appreciated and enjoyed listening.