By John Ripley - Interim Rector, Holy Trinity, Welland
Published: September 2008
Related Topics: Scripture
I, like many of you, receive from a variety of different sources the sometimes cute, sometimes serious and sometimes whimsical forwards of websites that are prolific on the World Wide Web. So many of these are now mini-productions with fairly high production values. As you engage with the production you are totally taken up with the content that you forget the creative and technical skills of the individual, or individuals, responsible for the production. One such site, sent to me, had me flummoxed. It was so real!
Now I know, or thought I knew, that penguins don't fly. They are not for one thing aerodynamically nor anatomically created to fly. Their rather stocky body and stubby 'wings' would make liftoff impossible. But there it was, right on my computer screen, a flock of penguins flying and migrating to South America. It isn't possible, and, of course, it didn't happen. It was just an April Fools hoax concocted by the BBC. The only problem, for me, was the fact that I got this long after April 1st and there was no indication that it was connected to April Fools. So I looked with amazement and awe at this phenomenal new discovery --- penguins that can fly.
Pretty soon common sense, and some pretty clear information (yes, I looked up penguins on the internet to see if there was just such a specie) forced the naïve believer in me to reject what I had just seen. I was disappointed, but, equally chagrined that I had so easily been flummoxed. Things like 'flying penguins' and other internet and life phenomena do peak the skeptic in me. It gets to the point that it is sometimes difficult to discern what is truth. Often the discernment of the truth is totally dependent on the trust that one has on the communicator of the truth. This, of course leads to another question -- "Who do you trust?"
More and more we face this challenge. Who do you trust? With internet creativity and media manipulation, one, sometimes, just doesn't know what the truth is. Sad to say the skeptic, in us all, holds much new, and old, information as suspect... We are left with the very basic question – "What is truth?"
In John's Gospel (and only in John's Gospel) Pilate is interrogating Jesus. To the question "So you are a King?" Jesus tells Pilate that he came into the world, "to bear witness to the truth." Pilate in response says "Truth? What is that?" One can almost hear Pilate spitting the words out in the spirit of a true skeptic – "Truth? What is that?'
Faith is based on 'truths'. Often we are forced to suspend rational understandings to accept irrational truths. The challenge for some is to grapple with the Pilate's question – "Truth? What is that?" A question to be explored further next time.
(For your own view of this remarkable bit of footage just Google "Flying Penguins")