Truth is stubborn.
Imagine growing up with parents who believed Copernicus was wrong. Imagine they took you every Sun-Day to a meeting of the Society for the Promotion of the Earth-Centered Universe, or SPECU, for short. The faithful called themselves SPECUlators, adopting the scorn of heliocentric outsiders as a badge of honor.
The roll call of saints included the Egyptian astronomer Ptolemy and the Greek philosopher Aristotle. You commemorated the birthday of Maffeo Barberini, a.k.a. Pope Urban VIII, who indicted Galileo for his sun-centered heresy. Modern science, they said, was deceived by the Father of Lies himself, all the while claiming to be free of the taint of religious interference in pursuit of truth.
Being part of a family and community like that would work powerfully to convince you of its vision of reality. You would adopt the worldview of those you hung around with, without even consciously deciding on it yourself.
Yet how long could you hold out against the truth? Truth is stubborn. The earth spins on its axis and whirls around the sun, whether we prefer it, profess it or protest it. Better to accept the sun-centeredness of things and live in the light of it, than to rail at it blindly and live in darkness.
We wonder how people can become so blind as to think they serve the interest of truth by flying airplanes into buildings and killing those they consider enemies of God. But the terrorists were nurtured in communities of belief that fostered the plausibility of dangerous and unneighborly ideas. They died believing the lie that they were martyrs for God.
It can work the other way. If communities of belief create sanctuary for ideas that make it hard to penetrate from the outside, what if we are part of communities committed to the truth? What if we foster in our places of worship the values of loving our neighbor that makes hate hard to conceive?
What if we teach against corporate opportunism: that riches do not equate with a rich life? What difference would it make to young girls, who look in the mirror and do not see Britney looking back, to know that beauty is more than a studded navel worth gazing at? What would change in our society if communities of faith instilled a welcome of diversity instead of a fear of it?
Because truth is stubborn, a commitment to it will shield us from the onslaught of alluring ideas that bankrupt the soul and impoverish a people. Worshipping faithfully, following the rule of faith, conversing and communing with others who believe the same way: This is the pattern of life that leads to life as it is meant to be.
There’s room in a pew for you.