Oxford Dictionary has named “post-truth” its Word of the Year for 2016. What does this word say about our culture, and what does it mean for you?
[Darris McNeely] After the 2016 United States Presidential election, there’s been a great deal of assessment of what happened, why it happened, and why Donald Trump won over Hillary Clinton. It’ll go on for a long time. But there’s one assessment that has taken place that I find to be very interesting. It was in an article that someone passed along to me, and it’s talking about a word that has been named the Word of the Year for 2016 in the aftermath of the election. It’s called “post-truth”. Word of the Year for 2016. Post-truth. Interesting word. A very applicable word to our time, not just for the politics of this year, but for so many other aspects of our culture and our society, as well.
The Oxford Dictionaries have spotted this word as “one of the defining words of our time”, they call it. A post-truth – in other words, we are past a period where truth really matters. “Post-truth,” it says, “has been named the Word of the Year by the Oxford Dictionaries because it is a word in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.” Personal belief, whatever you believe to be true, whatever you want to be true, or whatever your emotions tell you should be true, trumps objective fact, objective truth. That pretty well sums up where we are, folks, in America and other parts of the world, not just America, in this period of 2016. Post-truth politics, they call it. We can also call it post-truth religion and post-truth culture, in many ways, as to its impact upon our world.
Katherine Connor Martin, who is the head of the US Dictionaries at the Oxford University Press, she told the New York Times that “truthlessness is a humorless way of discussing the quality of specific claims. Post-truth,” she said, “is an adjective describing a much bigger thing.” She says, “It’s saying that the truth is being regarded as mostly irrelevant.” Post-truth is saying that the truth is mostly irrelevant. When people go to either present a case, or to assess a situation, making critical decisions. I think that pretty well describes a lot of what we are seeing as we here on Beyond Today monitor politics, religion, and culture in the United States and Australia, Great Britain, and the world today and what is taking place.
What should be your view about truth? What should you be looking for? The Bible has a great deal to say about the subject of truth. If you were to look into the Scriptures and do a search, you will find a great deal of teaching about the truth, loving the truth – even Pilate, when Christ was before him, raised the question, “What is truth?” Christ said, “Thy word is truth” (John 17:17 John 17:17Sanctify them through your truth: your word is truth.
American King James Version×). The word of God is truth.
In Isaiah chapter 53, there is a very interesting statement – actually, it’s Isaiah chapter 59 – that talks about truth among the nations, truth among any nation and the importance of it. As the prophet says here, quoting God, it says, “Your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies, your tongue has muttered perversity.” Pretty well, again, describing not only Judah of the day of Isaiah, but frankly any nation that we would look at either in that setting, or a modern setting. He goes on in verse 4, “No one calls for justice, nor does any plead for truth. They trust in empty words and speak lies; they conceive evil and bring forth iniquity.” Isaiah is describing his own day Judah as a post-truth culture. A post-truth time of religion and politics, as well. Judah went into captivity, Judah ceased to exist as a nation. Any nation that enters into a post-truth period where truth is not held to a high degree will suffer the same fate. In verse 13 here of Isaiah 59 it goes on, “In transgressing and in lying against the Lord and departing from our God, speaking oppression and revolt.” Verse 14 it says, “Justice is turned back, righteousness stands afar off, and truth is fallen in the street.” (Isaiah 59:1-21 Isaiah 59:1-21 1 Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear:
2 But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.
3 For your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies, your tongue has muttered perverseness.
4 None calls for justice, nor any pleads for truth: they trust in vanity, and speak lies; they conceive mischief, and bring forth iniquity.
5 They hatch cockatrice’ eggs, and weave the spider’s web: he that eats of their eggs dies, and that which is crushed breaks out into a viper.
6 Their webs shall not become garments, neither shall they cover themselves with their works: their works are works of iniquity, and the act of violence is in their hands.
7 Their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed innocent blood: their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity; wasting and destruction are in their paths.
8 The way of peace they know not; and there is no judgment in their goings: they have made them crooked paths: whoever goes therein shall not know peace.
9 Therefore is judgment far from us, neither does justice overtake us: we wait for light, but behold obscurity; for brightness, but we walk in darkness.
10 We grope for the wall like the blind, and we grope as if we had no eyes: we stumble at noon day as in the night; we are in desolate places as dead men.
11 We roar all like bears, and mourn sore like doves: we look for judgment, but there is none; for salvation, but it is far off from us.
12 For our transgressions are multiplied before you, and our sins testify against us: for our transgressions are with us; and as for our iniquities, we know them;
13 In transgressing and lying against the LORD, and departing away from our God, speaking oppression and revolt, conceiving and uttering from the heart words of falsehood.
14 And judgment is turned away backward, and justice stands afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter.
15 Yes, truth fails; and he that departs from evil makes himself a prey: and the LORD saw it, and it displeased him that there was no judgment.
16 And he saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor: therefore his arm brought salvation to him; and his righteousness, it sustained him.
17 For he put on righteousness as a breastplate, and an helmet of salvation on his head; and he put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, and was clad with zeal as a cloak.
18 According to their deeds, accordingly he will repay, fury to his adversaries, recompense to his enemies; to the islands he will repay recompense.
19 So shall they fear the name of the LORD from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him.
20 And the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and to them that turn from transgression in Jacob, said the LORD.
21 As for me, this is my covenant with them, said the LORD; My spirit that is on you, and my words which I have put in your mouth, shall not depart out of your mouth, nor out of the mouth of your seed, nor out of the mouth of your seed’s seed, said the LORD, from now on and for ever.
American King James Version×)
That’s what has happened. And this designation of the Word of 2016 as being post-truth, to describe America, the recent political election, probably a future political election as well – it doesn’t really matter – and any nation’s culture speaks to the spirit of our age and of our time where truth is not held in high regard, and it is a rare commodity. What can you do about that? Well, you may not be able to do too much about it at these levels. But you can do something about it in your own life.
There’s one last psalm. Psalm 15 is a psalm about truth. And it says regarding that type of person who can stand in the presence of God as “he who walks uprightly and works righteousness, and speaks the truth in his heart” (Psalms 15:2 Psalms 15:2He that walks uprightly, and works righteousness, and speaks the truth in his heart.
American King James Version×). Strive to speak the truth in your heart. Don’t get caught up in a post-truth world, post-truth society, where emotion trumps facts. Look for truth, live the truth, let the truth reign in your heart.
That’s BT Daily. Join us next time.