These are some thoughts I shared in an artist co-op meeting recently that the group asked me to write down and share.
As a culture, I think we are seeing the limits of the ability of facts to combat lies. More information exists than every before. Then there’s information about the information. And then there are arguments about what facts are true and what are not. I can think of a lot of reasons this might be happening, but uncovering the truth in a sea of information seems to be getting increasingly difficult. There is some amazing scientific work going on. There is some perhaps-less-amazing study of human behavior (judging from what gets sifted down to me through the news, Facebook, etc.) But being an informed person no longer seems to pack the punch that it used to. Information seems to be losing its power to help me navigate life in a meaningful way. It does less and less to help me combat the lies in my head about who I am, why I am on this planet, how I should behave toward my fellow human beings in the time that I have.
Where do those lies come from, anyway? As a Christian, I believe there is a spiritual entity who is the “father of lies”. He is jealous of God. He can’t make anything himself, so he uses all of his formidable strength and intelligence to try to destroy what is and what is good. We often think of good being the cessation of bad, particularly moral good. I stopped drinking, and my life got better, etc. But I think, in fact, good is infinite. God spoke the universe into being and it has been expanding ever since. He saw it and it was good. Good doesn’t stop evil, evil stops or obscures what is good. Lies obscure what is good, distort our perception of it, but they do not have their own raw material. Lies eventually end in the ultimate cessation of good—Death.
Unlike Satan, people have creativity. However, our power to create is not raw. I can creatively combine sounds on my violin. I could even make the violin from a tree I grew from the ground. But I did not create music itself or even the idea of the tree I used to make the instrument. The raw materials came the universe, from God, not me. Since I am imitative at my core, the power I have is in what I choose to imitate. I can either imitate the lies constantly poured into my ear like poison from the Father of Lies or I can imitate the creative goodness that has been exploding into being since the foundation of the world. Imitate death-dealing lies or life-giving creativity. If Satan’s lies stand in opposition to God’s creative power, my creative act becomes a weapon against the evil of the universe, potentially one much more potent than facts (or “facts”). “Because no Good has a limit on its own nature but is limited by the presence of its opposite, as life is limited by death and light by darkness. And every good thing generally ends with all those things which are perceived to be contrary to the good.” (Gregory of Nyssa, The Life of Moses) The more we reflect the the creative Light, the more we are unstoppable.