As I sat listening to him share his story, I found myself becoming more and more agitated. The tale he was telling, was, in fact, a tale. Not hyperbole, not creative license, but rather, a full re-write of how the situation took place. I reminded myself of one of the principles that I try to live by – that everybody has their own story. As Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold used to put it, their reality is their reality and should be respected.
This, however, felt different.
At the heart of propaganda are two fundamental strategies:
- A lie that is left unchecked for 24 hours later becomes the “truth”
- A lie, when repeated often enough, can be taken as truth
We see this played out on social media every day:
One person makes a false statement.
Others re-tweet and share.
The next thing you know, thousands, if not millions, of people believe the lie.
Our Presiding Bishop Michael Curry is a great example of one who seeks to provide a truthful narrative in the face of misinformation. In all of his messages about Jesus of Nazareth, he is intentional about every word. When he talks about the Way of Jesus and the Way of Love, he roots it in the Jesus we experience in the Scriptures.
A long-time friend, colleague, and theologian, John Philip Newel writes, “There are three things that foster our forgetfulness of God’s love: ignorance, falseness, and fear.”
In the age of information manipulation, it is critical for us to fully live into Paul’s words:
“We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people’s trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming. But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love.” – Ephesians 4:14-16