MHA Analysis: The Concept of Rational Deception

Diving into more CeCe (or morallygrayismyfavoritecolor) inspired analysis of the show and concept of MHA.

Actually, I have to thank a lot of of UA tik tok people for bringing up excellent points in their satire, and compliment them, it’s not a venue I’d normally look for profundity in.

I could probably have made this into a therapy post of Aizawa, but as it extends to so many more characters, as well as anime in general, I think that’d be limiting. So, let’s go.

We’ve probably all heard, if we live in an English speaking country, the proverb “Honesty is the Best Policy”

I am sure there are variations of it in pretty much every culture too. Here’s a handful of them I found:

Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.” –Thomas Jefferson

Every lie is two lies, the lie we tell others and the lie we tell ourselves to justify it.” —Robert Brault 

Integrity is telling myself the truth. And honesty is telling the truth to other people.” 
― 
Spencer Johnson

Honesty is the best policy.If I lose mine honor, I lose myself.”
William Shakespeare

Honesty is more than not lying. It is truth telling, truth speaking, truth living, and truth loving.” 
― 
James E Faust

No legacy is so rich as honesty.” William ShakespeareAll’s Well That Ends Well

It takes strength and courage to admit the truth.” 
― 
Rick RiordanThe Red Pyramid

When you tell a lie, you steal someone’s right to the truth.” 
–Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner

I like that last one especially. I believe people are born with certain rights, not just life, liberity, and happiness, but also the right to know the truth.

So, I guess I could frame this as a debate between yours truly, and the UA staff (as well as other teachers) about whether the continued practice of lying to students, or at the very least concealing part of the truth, is truly a wise idea.

Even though I will be using fictional examples, thousands of parents, teachers, and leader regularly lie to their kids and followers in real life, and there are even whole books you can find that justify this approach, I believe Machiavelli even talks about it, so nothing I bring up is not going to have its parallel in real life, in fact, I bet some of you reading have been lied to quite a lot by authority figures.

My personal experience is, I’ve been lied to by both my parents, though lying was always strictly punished in our house as one of the most serious offenses, my dad has lied about me, and they both have gone back on promises they claimed to have forgotten or else decided to ignore. It’s not quite the same as UA’s approach, but it is dishonestly of a severe nature.

There, now that I’ve justified writing yet another post about MHA, let’s do this:

Starting with my premise that people are born with the right to the truth, let’s put that up against the premise assumed by UA and every other teacher (the ones on Naruto are full of examples of this) that truth is often too dangerous to be entrusted to students.

Is there any basis for either premise?

I’ll start with the opposition to my point:

There are times when truth is dangerous, it can’t be denied. If we make total honesty at all times our rule, we’ll compromise every war in history, several covert ops, and many brave people who’ve ever protected information under torture or duress.

There’s an Aesop’s fable that comes to mind here, The Fox and the Woodcutter.

“A Fox having been hunted hard, and run a long chase, saw a Countryman at work in a wood, and begged him to help him to some hiding-place. The man said he might go into his cottage, which was close by. He was no sooner in, than the Huntsmen came up. “Have you seen a Fox pass this way?” said they. The Countryman said “No,” but pointed at the same time towards the place where the Fox lay. The Huntsmen did not take the hint, however, and made off again at full speed. The Fox, who had seen all that took place through a chink in the wall, thereupon came out, and was walking away without a word. “Why, how now?” said the man; “haven’t you the manners to thank your host before you go?” “Yes, yes,” said the Fox; “if you had been as honest with your finger as you were with your tongue, I shouldn’t have gone without saying good-bye.

I used to not get this story at all, how is it honest to lie? But later I understood that loyalty is also a kind of honesty, and sometimes must trump telling the truth to someone’s enemy.

There is a philopshy that says that you can forfeit your basc rights by doing evil, so your enemy can forfeit his right to the truth, by being your enemy. Trying to kill someone who has not harmed you, for examople, forfeits yoru right to their honesty.

The Bible does not openly endorse lying in this case, but there are a few times, when David is running away from King Saul, and Rahab is hiding the spies, where lying is sued to protect God’s chosen people, who are alos innocent, and it is not condemned, at least.

I suppose God prefers total honesty, but will not always pusih lying to save someone’s life, which is about theo nly time I think it is accepatbe.

There’s another side to it, I read in “The Hiding Place” that Corrie Ten Boom’s sister told the truth about a jew she was hiding, getting her arrested, but her sister was confident God would honor her honesty, the jew later was rescued and gotten to safety. Corrie is amazed by her sister’s faith, and it’s being justified.

Corrie herself lied while doing underground work, and felt it was all right. God clearly honored her work for His people.

So, my answer is: listen to your own conscience, at times the reason you do something, and whether you have faith in God either to lie or to be honest, is more important.

But in cases where lying is just covering up stuff you’d prefer people not know, but it’s not morally wrong to tell them, you have a very different story.

I might not quibble with UA not disclosing that they suspect a traitor to the students, since if one of the students is the traitor, that could be dangerous to do, and if the students turn on each other, that is also dangerous.

I will give due credit to Aizawa for being honest during the camp attack, since it saved the kids’ lives, and kind of reminds me of what Mrs. Incredible tells her kids in “The Incredibles”.

But what about in regular training when Aizawa uses his signature “rational deception” or “logical ruse” depending on whether you watch sub or dub (not sure why they changed it, actually, what’s the difference?)

Aizawa says he will expel them, or keep them out of camp, etc, if they don’t accomplish certain things. It often seems like he uses “rational deception” as a cover for changing his mind. I guess changing your mind as a teacher must be frowned upon in Japan or something, since I’ve never seen it happen.

The logic behind all this is that the students (or people in general) will perform better if they think the stakes are higher, and so keeping them in a perpetual state of thinking that is the most effective way to train them.

Some people go along with this way of thinking, and will defend it on the gournds that “it’s more realistic that way.”

However, one might ask if that is really true.

Training someone to be in constant fear of failure and dire conseuences does not actually simulate real life very well.

There are some things you can’t mess up in life, surgery, taxes, moral choices, etc. But there are other things like forgetting to lock your car, or tripping, or saying something dumb, that are going to happen, no matter how smart you are.

I’m a pretty intelligent person, and I tried to schedule an interview for during my class time two days ago, so I would know, even I can do dumb crap sometimes.

And most of the time, the absolute worst thing isn’t going to happen, you aren’t going to be disgraced forever for a mistake.

There are people who will make you feel like that, Miranda Priestly from “The Devil Wears Prada” is an example of that kind of person who messes with your head, but a healthy person would know to dismiss that as unfair.

What you are far more likely to get, by constantly putting students in fear of terrible consequences, is people who cannot let stuff go, cannot laugh off any situation to de-stress from it, and cannot be lenient with others who make mistakes. People who will always try hard, but will probably make mistakes because they are so desperate to win that they forego commonsense.

Which is exactly what Class 1-A has become like, ironically.

There are some short term benefits from the methodically that might make it look like a good idea, and I should be fair and talk about those:

So, as Aizawa points out, the class is ready for challenges. They learn not to hesitate, though he admits that’s from being attacked by villains, not from his teaching.

What they learn form the logical ruse stuff is never to take any teaching experience at face value, there will always be a twist.

However, I’d argue they are not anymore prepared for the future by this approach.

How exactly does knowing you could be deceived at any time prepare you to meet expectations? If expectations are never what you are told, does that mean that you know how to meet them? How the heck would you know that?

It’s like, being lied to constantly doesn’t give you the ability to discern the truth. In fact, it might just teach you to mistrust it when you actually hear it (as in the Webtoon I wrote about the other month, Exploring the importance of truth with the Purple Hyacinth).

Also, how do lies prepare you for the real world?

Isn’t it imperative to know the facts? To know what is real out there?

The students clearly have trust issues. They ignore their teachers constantly, and while they get scolded, it doesn’t seem to leave a lasting impression, even on Momo, the most scholarly one. Of course, that is because they never really know what’s going on, or what is true.

What if the hardest thing to believe, in real life, is that there is no twist? No fourth act reversal, no anime backstory trigger to defeat the villain or inspire the hero, what if this is just the way it is.

It hits home for me to think about that.

For years living in abuse (which bears many similarities to the teaching style of anime, even the better ones), I was convinced there was a twist. There was something I could do to make it better, to fix it.

Over time I learned what every anime good person learns, not to step out of line or make waves, just be as invisible as possible.

My father gave up on love a long time ago, as he told me, really. But I didn’t know it wasn’t my fault, I thought if I was a different kind of person, it would be okay. If I was like my sisters.

Turns out the very obstinacy I have been born with and unable to get rid of (I don’t know a way to get rid of obstinacy, really, because to break any habit, you have to be obstinate, kind of an exercise in futility) ended up being the salvation of us all from the situation itself. I carried my point. My dad told me I had won. He thought that would bother me, I just said “okay.”

And then he said “F— you” that’s a direct quote.

That hurt a lot, but I felt less bad than you might think, because somehow, I knew this was how it had to be.

In anime, and Japan, I’m guessing as a whole, they rank students. What this means is that there is no tie for first, there is no equality, it is always a hierarchy. I can’t say for sure there are never exceptions to this, but there have been none on any show I’ve seen except MHA, and that was tie for third place in a sports festival where there was apparently no procedure to break the tie (or it wasn’t implemented because of a family situation).

Ranking sets it up so that someone always has to be at the very bottom, and at the very top, and everyone else can be judged by where they fall in between.

In MHA, Momo is always academically first, though Bakugo is first in physical fitness, while Kaminari is always last academically, and the last in physical stuff wavers from season to season, but we aren’t updated on it.

The thing is, UA is a top school, so for Kaminari to get in at all, he must have done well in at least some subjects academically, following the internal logic of the show. Meaning, he’s probably ahead of many students in other schools. He fails exams, but the kid has a crap ton more on his plate than the average high school student, since he has to to do hero training for hours, cutting into his study time.

Though he’s not the smartest, watching him in training, he’s not an idiot. He can handle most situations just fine.

To top this off, he also has a side effect to his quirk that deadens his intelligence, and it’s uncertain if it affects him long term (if so, he shouldn’t be using it).

I’m not writing a defense of Kaminari here, I’m merely pointing out the factors around him, and he’s at the bottom, but on what scale?

A 6 ft tall person is short compared to a giant, after all. An average person is tall compared to a midget.

The facts are, Kaminari may actually be fine, but the hierarchy will always keep him at the bottom as long as he struggles more with the pressures of hero work.

Also, I might point out that intelligence is not measured by academic achievement. Someone can be quite perceptive who isn’t good at school. You can be a bad student and still a brilliant inventor, or strategist (look it up someone time, people didn’t think Einstein was smart.)

So, you put a kid in an environment of constant comparison where not everyone can always win, and what do you get?

By the way, I don’t support “everyone’s a winner” by any means, if someone isn’t talented enough or hard working enough, than fine, they should do something else.

But I do support the idea that everyone can win at something and has a gift, and when it comes to such an arbitrary thing as “heroes” how can you say academic prowess is a reliable measure of it?

What I mean is, if you expelled someone for failing at their grades, from a hero school, how exactly is that fair? What does that have to do with being a hero. Expelling them for cheating, now, would make sense.

Or expelling them for being a pervert and harassing girls… but, get real, consequences for disrespecting women, on an anime? Or men, for that matter? (Yes, men get sexually harassed on anime too, I’ve seen it, it’s played off as a joke even more often than for women.)

I would almost have to conclude that the whole system of schooling itself is actually the Rational Deception. These expectations and failures that have no bearing on the real world aspects of heroism.

I don’t hate anime, obviously, or expect it to be 100% realistic, but my point is, even on MHA, these things are not left out of canon, and it’s admitted not everything about the school is fair… however, so far, nothing seems to be done to change that, and if I were the parents on this show, I’d be concerned about letting my students live on Campus and be under the school’s exclusive control. But I guess, as an American, I am for less government control over education to begin with.

Of course the attitude of anime is always “try harder”.

See, it’s okay to lie to students, if it makes them “try harder”

It’s okay to terrify them, if it makes them “Try harder”

It’s okay to over work them more than any doctor would approve, against repeated warnings by Recovery Girl, if it’s so they will “try harder”.

And the result?

I mean, let’s look at the Pros.

Aizawa sleeps more than he really should, and seems tired and out of it expect when he gets mad or the kids are in dangers. It seems, either he is depressed, or the effects of the rigorous training for years to keep his body fit enough to be a pro has taken its toll and he can’t function without extra rest.

All Might repeatedly overuses his quirk against everyone else’s advice so that he will stay No#1 Hero, until he uses it all up. he might have kept working for another year or two, had he showed restraint, and been able to protect Deku longer.

Endeavor is never satisfied with his success and feels a constant need to compare himself to All Might and push for the top, even while it destroys his family life. We later get hints Endeavor is not wholly without regret that he did this, but he is still far too obsessed with being the best Hero to really realize his mistake was making that his goal from the beginning.

I suppose the idea I am really up against here is the whole Eastern idea that power and strength will justify any means to get them.

Well, I doubt I can dismantle that in one blog post, I’m sure I will revisit it, but, I can touch on it.

Many people in the West, that is, Europe and America and Canada, may not realize how counter-intuitive our ides of strength are. That, to this day, not everyone has what we consider the “civilized” view that power should not be our main goal in life.

I’ve come to understand that power-hunger is not always just about its thrills, often, it’s because people fear for their family and friends and think power is the best way to protect them. Or they want to prove they can be something. It appeals to people who often feel powerless to change naything.

I’m lucky to live in a country where I can have a voice, though it’s becoming more dangerous to, it’s not illegal yet. There’s still many paths to change I can pursue if I wish. I have always been prepared for the idea that that may change for me, soon enough, and I am resolved not to be intimidated when it does, at least not enough not to keep doing things.

But, I have all the benefit of having been taught growing up that I have a Divine Right to pursue what I believe is Good, regardless of what the rest of the world says. America’s philosophy is that if even the Government is standing in you way, you as an individual have the right to oppose it, from God, even if you have no right under the law of the land. AS our Declaration says the right to “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.” I will never be ashamed to be part of a country with people like that in it, even if I am ashamed of what our media does to make fools out of us.

And that, I realize now more than ever, is not a common mindset. Quite possibly, one someone from the other end of the world may not have even heard before.

America has the true underdog story, we started out as small, ragtatg farmers, and business men, winning a war agisnt trained soldiers. But it wasn’t for power, it was for our rights. Our idealogy is that Right makes Might. Not the other way around.

Which, is, of course, a Christian idealogy too.

I believe that growing up in the protection of a strong force, while you learn what you believe, prepares you for venturing out where you will meet people who will kill you for believing that, or else reject you.

I don’t buy the idea that you can mistreat and traumatize people into been prepared for the real world. It’s more likely to make them unable to accept any goodness in the world that might steel them against its evils.

For the UA kids, and others like them, it makes sens that their greatest source of strength is each other, the people bearing it with them. When all else fails, mankind tends to find solace in brotherhood. Our last comfort against evil oppressors or injustice is that we are not alone in how we feel, and we don’t have to eat it alone.

Anime is wright to say loneliness is the worst suffering, even after mistreatment and trauma, it’s going through it alone that is the worst. But, it can’t be denied that a culture that encouraged mistreatment makes it far harder to not be isolated. It can be difficult to stay alive to the hope.

I remember for years of living at home with few to no friends, and moving every five years, so that I lost friends after I finally made them, or lost at least my proximity to them, I always wished for more. I started to feel, though, that it would never happen. And people moved away form me to, and didn’t keep in touch. It’s been a realization over time for me that I have to choose to keep hoping, the Bible says “Hope does not disappoint”.

Staying open to change is the biggest part of getting it, I think.

I suppose this has nothing to do with UA, or does it?

I mean, you can take the passive attitude that the characters often do, that all this is not going anywhere and they’d better just deal with it… or there’s there more interesting attitude of the fans who make loving critiques of it that, it really could change, it would just take a handful of people, having the guts to do it.

As long as you are inspired not to be passive, its not going to waste.

I will keep defending the importance of truth, as well as justice, however I can.

Until next time–Natasha.

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Exploring the importance of truth with the Purple Hyacinth

Well, I have big news: I finally upgraded my blog to a paid plan. Woohoo!

I now have my own domain, so it’s more like a website now. As far as I know, this just means higher search priority and the ability to earn money off my site, but it’s good to upgrade anyway. After 4 years or so of building this site up for free, it seemed like the next logical step.

So, thank you all for being a part of it, and hopefully I can add some new features soon, maybe build a community.

For now, I thought I’d continue with my analysis about Purple Hyacinth.

Not that I want to review it per sec, but I want to use it as a framing device for one of the ideas it made me think of after reading. I think that analysis is easier to swallow with as story setting.

I found one comment under Purple Hyacinth (PH) that struck me as quite profound.

“This Webtoon tells us that even though that person is telling the truth, the truth is not enough to gain someone’s trust.” (It’s under episode 76, if you want to know).

I got to thinking about PH, and how it really does a good job of making you think about truth.

Haven’t you ever wished you could tell if people were lying to you? But what if you actually could? Would it really make your life easier?

I mean, Lauren can’t exactly convince everyone to believe her, can she? Other people don’t believe that she wouldn’t lie to them, or isn’t just crazy (which is what her boss thinks), or might use her if they did believe her (#plottwist, if the Leader ever finds out about her.)

It’s in this way I relate most to Lauren, and I don’t use the word “relate” to apply to most characters, even ones I like, so I have an especial reason to say I can see myself a little in her determination.

Supposedly, empaths like me are able to tell when people lie. But I tend to be a little naive, being raised in a Christian home where lying was off the table, I tend to take people at their word. Even if I can feel something is off, it tends to be unconscious, until I look back on it.

I think if I were the suspicious type and tried to use my ability actively, I could probably tell if someone was lying. I usually am more comfortable naturally around people who are honest with me, even before I’ve seen them put to the test. I can read what people want very easily, so if their focus is elsewhere why we’re talking, I can feel that they are only pretending to listen to me. That’s something man people are able to do.

Writers especially tend to notice this stuff about others, and their books tend to be more interesting, but also exhausting. If you’ve ever read an author with a style that goes like “The look in their eyes said…” or “Their tone just seemed to say…” you may be reading one with empathetic abilities. Anime often employs such tropes in how it shows emotions.

I can’t say whether that means people in Japan pay more attention to facial expressions and tone, or whether they just exaggerate it in anime because they don’t catch it in real life.

It can be a lot of emotions to handle, but I get very drawn in by writers like that, you feel for the characters.

Lauren’s ability is a bit like that, catching a tone of voice like most people detect sarcasm. But since she doesn’t know the actual truth, she is playing the elimination game. Which makes it far more complex to read about, but also brings up a lot more questions. It makes sense that she became a detective.

I found Lauren’s problem with losing it when she hears lies about the mystery she’s been trying to solve for 10 years to be very relatable.

All of us with a hero complex, whether because of toxic family dynamics, or as a response to trauma, or both, would find it maddening to know someone is lying, but not be able to get the truth out of them. Then to be stopped by others from even trying.

Lauren has massive survivor’s guilt because she knew something was off, the day the tragedy happened, but she couldn’t do anything about it. Regular survivor’s guilt is bad enough, even when you’re aware it’s irrational, but imagine if you did know, but couldn’t do anything with that knowledge.

The ability to detect lies sounds God-like, but it makes her no more able to know the actual truth. Turns out people can still deceive you without lying, by just selectively telling the truth.

It’s intriguing, Christians believe that truth is essential, and powerful. The word says “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

But does the truth set Lauren free?

Thanks to Kieren and Sandman, she learns the truth about the mole in her district, about her parents, and herself, in a way. She learns she is a hypocrite.

In one telling scene, she admits to Kieren that knowing the truth about the mole makes her not even care that much that he died anymore. In a way, Lauren is very selective in her compassion and seeing value in human life. She claims she wouldn’t hesitate to kill a murderer like the PH, or any other assassin, and she seems to have no pity for them.

And why should she?

Why should any of us?

Well, Lauren can’t afford to pity them because her whole life is about stopping htem and avenging her friend. And perhaps, alleviating her own guilt.

Learning the truth presents a challenge for her, if she is not in the position she thought, if the Phantom Scythe wasn’t what she thought, if the people around her aren’t what she thought… then can she keep living her life this way?

It’s too early to tell what the story will do with it, but for me, it’s intriguing enough that it even comes up.

I mean, the truth really upsets Lauren every time she learns it, for someone who pursues it so avidly, it’s rarely happy or easier for her. And she tends to ignore the truths that might soften the blow, like that Kieren is capable of actual remorse or honor.

Still, she chooses to tell the truth.

It all got me thinking about what is the value of truth?

I mean, when Will finds out the truth about his brother, it doesn’t make him happier.

I think most of us have the mistaken idea that knowing the truth will always make us happier or satisfied.

When C. S. Lewis became convinced of the truth of Christianity, he wrote in Surprised by Joy that he was perhaps “the most reluctant convert” in his time and country, if I remember right. He was not happy, he though it would mean a lot of unpleasant work.

To be sure, there are many unpleasant things in Christianity. If you’ve never head a Christian say as much, they are faking it.

Any genuine religion, that even claims to be the truth, will admit it has unpleasant parts. Islamists don’t all imagine that the extreme parts of their creed are supposed to be fun, that is the point.

It’s stuff like New Age, that claims to be all about serenity and peace and that crap. Nothing that is real is always pleasant.

You might argue, if you are a philosopher, that pleasure is real and always pleasant.

But that is not strictly true is it? Guilty pleasures are addictive, but there is an unpleasantness in it, isn’t there? Some junkies hate the drug or alcohol even as they consume it and get rush, I have been addicted to the much less harmful coffee and even I had moments of hating that I needed it.

One of the reasons I believe in the doctrine of hell is because there must be things I do not like about any Real fact of life. No one gets life to suit their fancy.

And in ,fact, when we talk about the truth making us free, do we always mean the truth is pleasant? I don’t know where that idea came from.

Probably, in the church at least, because Jesus is the truth, and knowing Jesus will certainly make you happier. That is true…but it will not necessarily make you happier immediately. Some people, like me, get a rush of joy when they first become saved, others, like my sister, don’t. And like Lewis too, incidentally.

It really has nothing to do with how you convert. People who convert in the middle of an evangelical movement sometimes feel nothing, while I read a story of a man who had an intellectual based conversion, and immediately felt peace. God seems to care more for what the individual needs than the setting and method of conversion.

Suppose you feel ill and think it is a minor thing, and then find out it was cancer. Did the truth make you happier?

No, but if that truth means you seek treatment before it is too late, and recover, the truth did indeed set you free. Ignorance is not bliss for people who actually want to improve. It is only bliss for people who want to stay the same. Which is, unfortunately, a lot of people.

What interests me in PH is that the truth may make Lauren unhappy, but for all I can see, it is setting her free, little by little. She will only be free of guilt once she knows the truth, and free of anger.

I rather think, in cases like hers, the “not knowing” it what causes bitterness, and if she knew what happened, she would not be bitter anymore.

Spoiler alert:

AS evidenced in the most recent episode, where we learn she once saved the life of someone she didn’t like who had previously lied to her, and possibly helped kill her friend and family. Lauren may hate the guy, but she hates mostly out of frustration, not true malice or vengeance.

To me, it made her a more likable character to see that difference, and it reminds me more of how I deal with truth.

Honestly, I resented my dad and loathed him for years when I was confused about what was right and what was wrong in our house. But the mores I realize the truth was it was mostly him the whole time, I don’t hate him.

I don’t like him, but I have no malice really.

Some of you may have experience this too, does’t most of our hatred happen because we doubt ourselves and feel guilty? Only a small percentage of it is truly about the other person’s actions. In fact, honestly, if we hated people more what what they did being wrong than for our own insecurities about it, we might be better people.

The Word says God hates wickedness, and David said in Psalms 139 that he hated God’s enemies with “perfect hatred”, and he’s not talking about hating because they did bad things to him.

This does not mean we are supposed to hate nonbelievers, David is talking about hating evil and that people do evil, and not pitying that they must be stopped.

This sort of ties into what I said earlier about Lauren not pitying assassins, yet it’s very easy for us as the readers to pity Kieren, being privy to more of his life. And he himself display more pity, oddly enough, than Lauren does. He knows what it’s like to be chewed up and spit out by society or the people around you.

Lauren may not realize she’s had rather a fortunate life, from status standpoint,and so doesn’t know how people are tempted by desperation to do terrible things.

I say “tempted,” most people say “driven.” But I don’t believe desperation can truly force someone to do do something they know they shouldn’t do, and it is not an excuse. It makes them more sympathetic, perhaps not truly evil, but many a person who starts off by being desperate never stops doing evil, and in the end, does it because they want to. That’s why it’s a poor excuse, and a dangerous one, to do anything.

But, if the truth is, Lauren has done some shady things out of her desperation to find answers, then the truth is, she is also not above falling into that trap. And do it justice, the story has her pay for that sorely.

Just as we all will, sooner or later, if we take that route.

The relationship of truth to desperation is probably too complex for me to get into at the tail end of a post, but suffice it to say for now that in my studies, the truth seems to be the only thing that ever puts an end to desperation. One way or another. Good or bad.

Now, how does all this affect us?

It’s an interesting story, and lesson, but does it matter in everyday life?

I’d say of course it does.

Something as small as a phone call can turn on whether you choose the truth or the lie. We lie for convenience. I tend to not lie, but I do make excuses that are only part of the reason I don’t want to do something.

I’ve had people tell me I was BS-ing them when I was being completely serious, just because it is what they would have been doing if they were the one saying it, I imagine.

So, truth is an unavoidable part of our day to day interactions and decisions, as you all are well aware, and I think PH points out something quite profound in showing that even a small lie has the power to throw everything off. We may not always be able to trace from the effect back to the cause, but it’s there. It could be possible if we had all the facts to prove that lying really only complicates our lives further.

Actually, the old VeggieTales about “The Fib from Outer Space” comes to mind here. But kids’ lies are at least easy to figure out, adults are often not.

Still, like Lauren, I can be frustrated by knowing that just because I point out to you readers the benefits of honesty, doesn’t mean you’ll listen or walk away from this post with anything changed in your lives. I may just be writing this to myself.

I’m not really blaming you all though, I don’t usually do what random people on the internet tell me, why would I expect any different?

Why do we blog then? Why do we feel the need to put our ideas out there as truth, hoping that someone somewhere will like it?

We humans can’t help it. Sharing truth is the most basic service we render each other, and heroes and villains alike perform it. Chesterton wrote that “to preach anything is to give it away.” To have the faint hope, in other words, that it will better the person you preach it to.

A truly evil man is the one who no longer preaches, is just a pure tyrant who does whatever they will and doesn’t bother to give a reason.

One, who the same author says, “believes in himself.”

Not wanting to pursue truth is really becoming inhuman. Which is why Lewis calls the indoctrination of the youth against truth “the abolition of man.”

But that’s all a story for another time. For now, it’s just nice to get a story that reintroduces us to the need for truth. Whether I will always enjoy the story or not, I am always glad to be redirected to what matters.

And I guess that’s what I hope for this blog too, until next time, stay honest–Natasha.

How do I know what I believe is True?

One philosophy you hear a lot nowadays is that we should respect each other’s beliefs because all beliefs are equally good.

I don’t know anyone who actually believes that, but I do hear plenty of people try to end arguments with it.

Nobody interested in discussion could actually believe that line. Go into any forum online and find people arguing about the dumbest crap imaginable, and see how right they think they are.

“Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.” (Proverbs 26:12)

But as G. K. Chesterton said “There is a thought that destroys thought.”

I could get into all that today, but it’s more of a lead in to what I really want to talk about:

Since people do make the claim quite often that Christians avoid hard questions about their faith, I try to occasionally tackle them on this blog, just to show I’m not afraid of it and there are answers.

Today, I was thinking of a question that sometimes bothers me, and has since I was a kid.

Which is: In all the myriad of philosophies, theologies, and ideologies out there, how can you know that you’ve found the one and only correct one?

Problem and Solution: The many versions of Christianity.

Actually, my sister was recently in a YouTube thread debate where one particularly angry person demanded how Christians could know we were right when there’s like 30,000 sects of Christianity out there, who all think they’re right.

Firstly, while that’s a good question, I have to point out it’s not a good litmus test. There’s sects of every single religious and worldview, even the secular ones. Honestly, the more compelling it is, the more sects there are because people are always anxious to make their own version of the really compelling stuff.

Consider a Religion to be like a piece of art, a really good movie, for example. There’s always hundreds of knock-offs, some that do a good job parodying the original, some that make you question how anyone could ever like this kind of crap, but there’s imitators, rip-offs, and paying homage to the legacy. That’s just with something as small as a movie, or a painting.

I mean, Mr. Peabody features a cartoon version of the Mona Lisa because it’s such a great piece of artwork, doesn’t make it accurate, but the imitation is proof of the original’s far reaching influence, over half a millennium of time thereabouts.

So, if there truly are around 30,000 sects of Christianity, it only shows how many people find the core of it to be true, even if the trimmings and trappings cause division. Like how C. S. Lewis, Chesterton, and many others can write books summarizing the key components of Christianity that we all can and should agree on if we believe the Bible, but they have different beliefs about practice.

I know nowadays two powerful apologetics ministries, and one believes you can use the basic prayer that people put on tracts in order to lead someone to God, and the other believes that’s wrong and you should have them pray from their own hearts. Both oft em are very successful, honest organizations that really believe in what they are doing.

Personally, do I have a preference? Sure. But I don’t feel it’s worth arguing over. The Bible doesn’t say how you have to do it, and people should go with what they feel is genuine.

Actually, did you know the Bible says all you have to do to be saved is “Confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and Believe in your heart that God raised Him from the Dead” (Romans) So, that’s pretty open to interpretation of how you could do it.

The need for the absolute truth

However, there is a huge difference between saying people have their own paths to the Truth, and saying that Truth itself has different paths. And paths to what? When you make truth a means to an end instead of the end itself, what exactly is the use of knowing it?

Meditation on happy things just because they make you feel happy (the gist of most Eastern meditation as we in the West now practice it) is rather pointless if they are not in reality, True.

I’ve never been comfortable with that idea, I have to have a truth to think on, I can’t just think. I get really stressed if I just think.

So, that said. How do I know that what I believe is right? How can I have the most true version of Christianity.

Well, it is probaly arrogant to assume I do. But here’s how I try to shape my worldview to make it at least as accurate as I can.

Tests I apply to my Worldview.

When I decide to believe a doctrine, I don’t just do it because I grew up hearing it. I have parents who read, study, and think critically a lot, so I usually give their opinions a good deal of weight. Unlike many kids, I can count on my parents having read about whatever they tell me is rue, and compared it to other opinions. They have blind spots, true, but they try at least to do their homework.

In fact, it was weird to me when I got old enough to realize most parents don’t actually study to see if what they tell their kids is true or not. They just tell them whatever they’ve heard themselves. (Ah, homeschooling, the most beneficial form of education to this day).

I can’t name any real differences in what I believe and what my mom believes, though I can with my dad.

One: Study

But I didn’t just assume my mom was right. I read the books too. I read a lot of books about Christian doctrine as a teen, and I still do as an adult. I am always excited to find if someone has seen something I haven’t. God tends to end my certain books right at the time a new chapter in my life is opening and I need them.

When I read “Orthodoxy” someone else had finally put into words what I had felt about my faith and it’s all encompassing nature, and it was at a time when I was about to enter some very secular, anti-religious Philosophy and later History classes. It helped me to have that fresh in my mind, and I was able to use it to see my way clear through the confusion.

Test 2: Credibility (primary and secondary theology)

When I find a really good book, by an author I believe to be genuine, I am much more likely to include it in my doctrine. C. S. Lewis was a man whose personal character can be attested to by so many of his peers, students, and predecessors that I have little doubt he really believed what he wrote.

Plus, I can check it against scripture.

Most importantly, when I find a bunch of good, well studied men have agreed on certain points, I am more likely to give it credibility.

Lewis, Chesterton, MacDonald, and others all had similar ideas of Chioice, Free Will, Love, ad needing to see the Beauty in Life to be able to see the Beauty in God. While I cannot find Bible verses to specifically state what they write about it, I can look at life and see how often people act just the way they describe, and how their reasons seem to make the most sense to me as to why.

While the Bible does not state it in so many words, it does support those principles.

See this is the trick with secondhand theology.

Firsthand theology is what the Bible clearly says, anyone who breaks from it is just a heretic, plain and simple. Someone who denies Jesus was raised from the dead, that Adam and eve were the first humans, that Gay Marriage is not expressly forbidden, those people are heretics. It’s simply not in there.

Secondhand theology is about the less vital stuff, but the stuff you live your life around. What to eat, what to wear, how to do church, how to do charity, how to raise your children.

The Bible is appropriately less specific here because any sensible person knows its gong to be different in different countries, times, and situations.

That’s where theologians and moralists come in, to give us principles that will work best in the most cases, and trust us to figure out the exceptions. That’s why if I read a Christian author who seems to feel it’s their way or the high way, I immediately take it less seriously, because they may not know all the situations that could prove their way doesn’t work.

An example here would be the very popular “Five Love Languages” books, that most Christians have heard of in the West, and some nonchristians too. I read it over and over, and used to believe it was infallible, it makes sense, after all. People are different, you got to love them differently.

I now have learned if an author every uses words like “we have overlooked a very crucial truth” about what they claim is their own discovery, there’s usually a reason it was overlooked.

Chesterton’s confession that he tried to come up with his own religion, and found out it was only “orthodoxy” is much more honest.

Do Love Languages exist? Of course, just like people like different colors and foods, they like different expressions of love. But it’s not a fix-all anymore than knowing your spouse’s favorite color means you can buy them clothes they will like.

Okay, so that’s basically how I do this. I do plenty of my own thinking about stuff also, especially when I see a really difficult question.

But at bottom, any honest person know they can always find people to back up their views, you can read selectively, you can go to a Church that’s an echo chamber for your own thoughts. I’ve seen that result in a lot of tension in my family, and others over the years. A lot of personal stress too.

One of my least favorite tests that God seems to like to use is the test of Trouble.

Test 3: Trouble (suffering, loss, disappointment, etc.)

When I’m in pain, emotional or physical, doesn’t matter, what I fall back on, what actually keeps me going, what pulls me out of that hole, whatever those truths are, those are the ones I know work. I know because I had to either learn that or die, at least so it felt.

For me, failure in knowing the truth is not an option.

(I wish I had a T-shirt that said that.)

People who say you don’t need to have an ultimate truth to live are liars, or they’re idiots, or they’ve had a carefree life. There are times when you look into that black abyss in your soul, and there is nothing in it to give you any inkling what you should do to even get up off the floor, and it’s then that you know if you didn’t have a Solid Rock to stand on, you’d fall, and never stop falling.

Very angsty I know, but that’s how it feels, isn’t it?

However, I wish I could say that test is foolproof, but it’s not. Our will to live and be happy is strong, and humans can pull themselves up, or pull each other up, and still not know the real truth. Those people are still generally closer to it than others, but it doesn’t make them Right.

If so, every cruel person who survived their messed up childhood would be right.

Test 4: Conscience, (i. e. What points us to that way of life we know deep down is right.)

When what we fall back on is Truth, it will be pointing us to a certain way of life that we all know, deep down, is true.

Whether they admit it or not, every human knows that Love is the only true way of life that’s acceptable, either to ourselves, each other, or God.

What we fall back on can either make us more loving, or more selfish. We may feel both to be true. We have to choose.

There are times when it seems like Christianity works for everyone except me and my family.

I look at happier families who had much more functional parents than mind, and they say it’s because of God.

I look at people who got delivered of their physical ailments and emotional issues, while I am still waiting.

I look at people who are achieving big things that I want to be able to do.

And then I look at the people I know who’s home lives are worse than mine, who have been sick a lot longer with far worse problems then mine, and who have had way more set backs in their goals. And I conclude, we just can’t measure Truth by how well our lives are going.

Truth will stand all of these tests. If something fails one of them, it’s just not true, a nice thought, but not true. At the very most it might be partially true because it connects to a Higher Truth, like the “power of positive thinking” mantra can be helpful because there is a power in gratitude and praise…but it will not prevent hardship in your life, nor remove it, as some claim.

Final Test: Consistency

The final test of Worldview I apply is more like being able to see if anything in your worldview is hypocritical. If what you fall back on one time is literally the opposite of what you do another time. Like it’s okay to lie when it’s convenient for you, but not when it was convenient for someone else. Or even more subtly, you may claim all truth is equal, and then protest that racism is wrong because all people are equal, i. e. a statement that requires a belief in the absolute truth that Equality is a Good Thing.

(And yes, I know people close to me who will make that exact argument and admit it’s hypocritical in a way, but still make it.)

I guess I took a long time to explain this, but basically, whatever I write on here, most of it is stuff I’ve tested by all the above measures. Or seen tested by other people.

If I have some blind spots, I’ll find out when I meet God face to face, but by then I don’t know if it will matter anymore.

I hope you enjoyed this and found something in it maybe you hadn’t heard before, until next time, stay honest-Natasha.