We spent last Saturday morning perusing the sea of tables with information about different schools in San Francisco. In the almost three years that our son will have been in daycare and preschool, we will have spent more money than receiving my degree from University of Michigan where I attended in the late 1980’s. So we are taking the plunge into public school education which is full of choices, the anxiety, the information gathering, the waiting, and oh yeah, entering into The Lottery System that San Francisco uses to decide where our children will attend school. So in order to make an informed decision for our top 7 choices of schools, we spent an hour and half talking to school teachers, principals and parents. We already did some research before the enrollment fair and wanted to make sure to visit several school that we were already interested in, but also wanted a chance to see what other choices were out there. And we were pleasantly surprised that there plenty of good public schools in San Francisco that offer many different programs and teaching philosophies. Talking with those who were promoting their school of choice, one would have thought that all the schools were top notch, the best school out there, the most caring teachers, most involved parents, or “up and coming” and “jewel” in the rough. I think we have to take all of these with the grain of salt.
So today, as I was writing all the dates for school visitations, I began to think about the question, what and where is the truth. Do we take what these school promoters tell us at face value. Do we just rely on the comments, reviews and the school scores that we found on the internet. Or maybe do we just go with our gut. Today, I was directed to an online book called Proof Beyond Reasonable Doubt by Mark Kelly. I was interested, had some time, and it was very short read. The author wants to prove beyond the reasonable doubt, more than saying I believe because I have faith, that the true religion and the morals associated with it is the Christian faith. He wants to blast holes in the different world views that people hold, such as Skepticism which he abhors, to prove that the Christian faith is the true religion. But in defending the Christian faith and denying other world views and ideas such as the Theory of Evolution, he uses those same lens of the skeptic. Not only that, he defends Christianity as truth by using the Bible itself and using his interpretation of it. As a Presbyterian pastor, I was so interested in how he would prove his point, but after reading the article, I became a skeptic myself. And a few questions that lingered afterwards is what is truth and what exactly are the truths that the author was talking about?
What is the truth? Is the truth relative? As I study, pray, engage with the community around me, I know I hold truths and stances that are very different from another’s. Whether it is in the interpretation of scripture, philosophy of ministry, or my moral and world view, I know my beliefs are contrary to some. In my context, in the place where I am today, in my connection with God, in my striving to live in the way of Jesus, I hold and live with these truths, truths which may be very different from another Christian who lives across the street, across town, or across the table in the small group that I lead. To me, this is where conversations are so important. I enter into these conservations with my truths, not to change the other’s mind or beat it over someone’s head, but more to listen and to fully hear, and hopefully to be heard as well. And in our talking, listening and understanding, the truth becomes bigger than mine or theirs.
Whatever the case, the truth of Christianity is not only to know it but to live it in love. More than making the best oratory or written arguments for Christianity, wouldn’t it be better to live and show it with our lived life individually and definitely as a community. This morning, I posted a status update on facebook pondering “what is truth”. And one of the comments I received was, “the love in your family and in your community”. For today, that is the answer to my question that I was seeking.
As for our Son’s school choices, we will visiting no fewer than 7 different schools in the first two weeks of December. More than taking the word of someone promoting their school, we will experience the school ourselves. And we certainly hope that the truths that were told is indeed true when we make these visitations. And really, isn’t this the truth that Christians and non-christians alike are looking for when they enter our communities of faith. Just wondering.