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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Some truths are best left unsaid

Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom. - Psalm 51

Interesting that Lauren believed that she thought that she was a "good person;" yet something inside obviously is not convinced. The host, Mark Wahlberg said to her that "your truth" is that you still have not forgiven yourself. What did he mean by "your truth"?

Many Christian conservatives I have heard cringe at subjective truth statements like "truth for me" or "truth for you" or "your truth." Kierkegaard went straight to subjectivity for truth, not bashful at all to say that subjectivity is truth. Some of the most profound truths are those that remain concealed within us; truths that we are unaware or unconscious of.

People criticize the show Moment of Truth because it exposes people's inner-truth to millions of viewers. But in many respects it is only public exposure that allows us to plum the depths of our identity. Something profound occurs when a person states for public reckoning their actions. There is a new and almost indescribable understanding that opens for us when we engage in public confession. We are forced to identify our actions with ourselves. This is necessary because our conscious minds perpetually work to justify our actions and motivations; this is a pragmatic defense mechanism. After all, who really wants to deal with who they really are. So we smooth it over.

Once you say it and put it in the open, it's a whole new ballgame.

At the conclusion of this Moment of Truth episode, the host, Mark Wahlberg, said that he truly believe some truths are best left unsaid. I disagree. I suggest truth only becomes truth when it is spoken. Until truth is public, it remains amorphous, a hazy fog of self manipulation.

Truth in the inner parts means truth in the outer parts. Even David did not truly understand the truth of his actions until publicly confronted by Nathan.


jps said...

Bonhoeffer in Life Together has a whole section on public confession. As Protestants, we have lost the art/discipline of confession and made it an individualistic thing between God and me, instead of an accountability issue in the body of believers.


Ken said...

I think Wahlberg was partially right when he stated some truths are best left unsaid. There are some secrets that need not be made general public knowledge, and so in that sense they should be left unsaid. But in other contexts there are places for stating those very same things. It is more a question of discernment as to when we should disclose certain truths about ourselves. A show like Moment of Truth is often times not the wisest place to disclose many secret "truths".

Melody said...

You find this show entertaining?

Moving on, what would be wrong with him saying "your truth" in that context? He's talking about her perception of herself so...

I don't know, to me it makes sense to say it that way.

Anyhow, I'm not saying that she should never have told her husband about how she felt or what she did. But what was the good in her saying it in front of America? Of humiliating her husband in front of America?

I suggest truth only becomes truth when it is spoken.

If no one ever says that my hair is brown - that doesn't make it less brown. If no one had ever said that, that girl didn't think she was a good person - it wouldn't have changed what she thought.

Maybe no one would have known about it, but it isn't our knowledge of something that makes it true.

Jonathan Erdman said...

Ken: There are some secrets that need not be made general public knowledge, and so in that sense they should be left unsaid.

I will tell you this, though. There is a sense of freedom that a person will never attain as long as there are secrets inside that you can never mention.

As long as there are things you can't say, there will always be a fear of exposure. But there is a level of freedom when you express your darkest secrets publicly: the secrets no longer have power over you because you have come into the light and you are who you are.

Jonathan Erdman said...

JPS: As Protestants, we have lost the art/discipline of confession and made it an individualistic thing between God and me, instead of an accountability issue in the body of believers.

Christian narcissism.

daniel said...

The more I think about it, the "moral relativism" bogey is one straw man tautology. Morality is always relative. I guess this is why existentialism always had a ring of truth to it to me. The quotation of Kierkegaard is pertinent.

Radical anti-humanism of Nietzche, Kierkegaard, Dostoyevsky closer to true Christianity than the humanistic variants of Christianity we encounter today imo.

True Christianity is beyond good and evil.

Emily said...

Okay, so I've watched the clip now. The has taken on a Jerry Springer feel. So I'm officially not a fan of the show. Just in case anyone was dying to know.

Jonathan Erdman said...

Springer was staged. Do you think this show is staged?

Melody said...

Do you think this show is staged?

Do you think that was her point?

Emily said...

To some degree it's staged, b/c the questions are predetermined. But I was thinking more along the lines of the content of the show, the emotions it brings to the viewer, and, of course, the booing of the crowd. If the crowd is booing, it kind of automatically makes a show trashy. Yes, I called it "trashy."

Jonathan Erdman said...

Content = Truthfulness
Emotions = Tensions as the truth is revealed
Booing = Crowds reaction to tensions

How does the above make it "trashy"?

Jonathan Erdman said...


I read an article that said she went on the show for the fame and fortune. However, the fortune didn't quite pan out for her, and as of the writing of the article she had not been contacted with any potential opportunities for extending her personal fame.

Melody said...

So not what I was talking about.

ktismatics said...

I think it's porn.

daniel said...

Are you morally outraged, Kt?

ktismatics said...

Here's a woman being publicly exposed, in a humiliating way, by a man, for money. Plus I didn't have to pay anything to watch (YouTube cut out the commercial breaks), and as a final humiliation the pornographers take the money away from her. How great is that?

daniel said...

Well, I haven't seen the show, and generally speaking I'm not into TV. So maybe I shouldn't comment on this thread.

We don't have a TV at home. It's kind of like the "eye that causes me to sin", when we have a TV I find myself wasting lots of time watching nonsense.

Its on our list of things to get sometime though. My wife is more disciplined than I am and can manage her time better without getting distracted.

Distraction is the number one enemy in my life. What a shame it would be to miss my destiny because of trivial distractions.

Melody said...

Well, I haven't seen the show, and generally speaking I'm not into TV. So maybe I shouldn't comment on this thread.

I haven't either, but you can handily watch the youtube clip uptop to see the thing in all its hidiousness.

Jonathan Erdman said...


What is your view on porn? I don't think I've heard your thoughts on it all that much.

Daniel asked if you were morally outraged. I'm curious about the moral question as well. Is pornography a morally egregious activity?

Is public exposure in a humiliating way egregious if the person wants to be exposed?

Also, if this is porn (and I think you make a good case that it is, in some sense) then does this imply that the majority of our forms of entertainment are merely varying levels of pornography?

ktismatics said...

From an economic standpoint one could argue that porn isn't all that different from other consumer products. The workers get paid, the consumers pay for the product, the profits go mostly to the financers and marketers (I suspect). Are the workers exploited? It's hard for me to say -- I don't know how someone finds him/herself involved in that business or what pay and working conditions are like.

Porn isn't illegal in its mainstream form. And I wouldn't outlaw it on moral grounds: I'm not prepared to legislate based on my opinion of what's morally wrong if it doesn't hurt anyone else against their will. I would regulate it like any other business, making sure people aren't getting hurt. I suspect exploitation is much worse if the porn business is made illegal, because then workers have no legal recourse whatsoever -- like illegal aliens working in America.

I'll stop there, acknowledging that I haven't answered your question.

Jonathan Erdman said...

Interesting. I tend to agree with you.

Regarding the woman at hand--the Moment of Truth girl--the question then comes to my mind: is it morally wrong to peer into her relationships and emotionally/spiritually/morally conflicted life and gain some sort of voyeuristic stimulation from seeing her darkest secrets on display? The answer, in some sense, is "yes." And I think this is the repulsion that someone like Melody feels. There is a voyeuristic element that is disturbing.

On the other hand, I was (and remain) enthusiastic about the show because of its confessional element. People come face to face with who they really are, rather than hiding behind many layers of self-deception. As I have said, cutting through these layers to get at who we really are--this is something that seems to be only possible in some sort of public forum.

Of course, whether or not there is a "who we really are" is another quite fascinating discussion in and of itself, is it not, John?

ktismatics said...

I side with Melody on this one. Why should this woman confess to the studio and TV audience? She isn't coming face to face with her own flaws -- after all, she already knows these things about herself. She's exposing herself to shame and humiliation, like Hester Prynne wearing the scarlet letter as punishment for having been caught in adultery. It's the sadism of morality: the punishment isn't for sinning, but for letting yourself be found out. I think that this woman must have been motivated not only by money but by masochism, by a desire to be humiliated. Maybe that's why she failed the "I believe I'm a good person" question: she unconsciously believed herself to be bad, so she wanted to be punished for it. And we're happy to oblige by watching her get that big red A pinned onto her chest.