You quoted me where I wrote, "Truth, as Friends have historically understood it, is neither tolerant nor intolerant; it simply is." You then commented, "That view has been carried on largely over the last 400 years not by religions but by science."I won't respond here except as a separate comment, and I will also repost James' response to Marshall as a comment, so as to keep this thread intact.
I understand why you might say such a thing, but actually, you are misreading what I wrote. For the sentence you quoted comes from a paragraph in which I consistently used "Truth" with a capital "T", and this was to signify that I was not using the word in the sense of factual accuracy, but in the sense in which it was normally used by early Friends, and continued to be used by traditional Friends of later generations, when they spoke of being "Friends of Truth", "Publishers of Truth", and the like.
Back in the days of the first Friends, "factual accuracy" was not yet the dominant meaning of the word "truth". Let me quote two older meanings from the Oxford English Dictionary that had greater currency in those days:
1) "The character of being, or disposition to be, true to a person, principle, cause, etc.; faithfulness, fidelity, loyalty, constancy, steadfast allegiance."
2) "Disposition to speak or act truly or without deceit; truthfulness, veracity, sincerity; ... sometimes in wider sense: Honesty, uprightness, righteousness, virtue, integrity."
It may be easier to grasp these meanings if I illustrate.
The first of these meanings uses "true" in the sense of an arrow "flying true", i.e. faithfully, to the target at which the archer aimed, or a lover "being true", i.e. faithful, to his beloved. For Friends to be "Friends of Truth" in this sense was for them to be "Friends of Faithfulness", friends of faithfulness to Christ and the Gospel as the churches in apostasy were not, and friends of faithfulness to the Inward Guide which the worldly around them were not obeying very well.
The second meaning uses "true" in the sense of "true witness", i.e. honest reporter of what happened, or "true parent", i.e. parent who does what is really right for the child. "Friends of Truth" in this sense meant "Friends of Doing the Right Thing, the Thing that the Relationship Really Needs, In Every Circumstance".
Neither of these senses of "Truth" are senses in which fans of science speak of "truth". Even today, they are more the province of religion.
You go on to speak of "imperfect understandings of truth". Such things are inevitable if we're speaking of factual accuracy, because accurate perception and accurate articulation are very difficult things in relation to messy real-world phenomena. In terms of faithfulness, though, or of doing what a relationship really needs, accurate perception and articulation are often easier. We may faithfully follow the teachings of the Inward Guide even when we're not sure what's going on; the Guide may, in fact, instruct us to wait until we know more, and we can agree that we are being faithful in doing so. Or we may do what a relationship requires even when we don't fully know what the other person is going through, simply by caring, listening, giving hugs, or providing food and shelter if need be.
Saturday, January 3, 2009
Nothing but the Truth (guest post by Marshall Massey)
Marshall Massey posted a response to a previous post that I think warrants a posting of its own: