Taxi Drivers and the Truth of it All

 A woman and her 12-year-old son were riding in a taxi in Detroit.  It was raining and all the prostitutes were standing under awnings.  “Mom,” said the boy, “what are all those women doing?”  “They’re waiting for their husbands to get off work,” she replied.

The taxi driver turns around and says, “Geez lady, why don’t you tell him the truth?  They’re hookers, boy!  They have sex with men for money.”

The little boy’s eyes get wide and he says, “Is that true Mom?”  His mother, glaring hard at the driver, answers “Yes.”

After a few minutes, the kid asks, “Mom, if those women have babies, what happens to them?”  She said, “Most of them become taxi drivers.”

The truth doesn’t always seem desirable.

Sometimes the truth doesn’t seem all that appropriate…certainly not desirable. The woman in question here was obviously protecting her son from the truth. Occasionally, that seems like the best policy. In her case, telling a second fabrication was her way of getting back at the cabbie. Untruthful, but certainly humorous…

Periodically, we all find ourselves in such situations. We endeavor to protect others from the truth despite the fact that we hate to lie. I suspect that’s what gave rise to the old saying, “The truth hurts.” There’s no question it can be painful at times.

The eighth or ninth commandment (depending on how you number them), tells us not to bear false witness. (Exodus 20:1-17) In other words, don’t lie. It almost seems twisted that the taxi driver was in the right while the mother was doubly wrong. Go figure.

On the other hand, Scripture also warns us “there is a time to be silent and a time to speak.” (Ecclesiastes 3:7) Maybe the cab driver should have thought about that one before he opened his mouth. These things can certainly get complicated.

“The truth will set you free.”

Truth has always been a knotty subject, however. Even Pilate, when face to face with Messiah, asked the age-old question, “What is truth?” (John 18:38) He didn’t bother waiting for a reply. Maybe he should have. I, for one, would like to have heard Jesus’ answer.

Maybe the most famous statement concerning truth was averred by Jesus himself when he said, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32) It can easily be argued he was referring to the truth of the Gospel, but we are quick to use it in almost any other situation as well. In many of those situations, it merely becomes bad theology.

Still, it’s a very convincing argument—even when it’s taken out of context. And we love to use it, don’t we? Even folks who don’t give a whit about Scripture quote that one to their advantage.

I’m pretty sure the mother in our little story didn’t think the truth about the prostitutes was going to set her little boy free. On the other hand, I’m not so sure her statement about bastard taxi drivers was all that helpful either. It WAS funny, though.

[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and is currently the pastor of Smith Chapel, in Great Falls, VA.]

The New Religion: None

I remember years ago during a George Carlin routine, he told of a new religion created by Timothy Leary’s imaginary brother (who Carlin named, Really Leary). He said the main tenet of the new faith was the belief that, when you died, your soul went to a garage in Buffalo. Carlin could always crack me up. I miss him.

New religions are still popping up, of course. In April of 2016, National Geographic Magazine published an article entitled, “The World’s Newest Major Religion: No Religion.” This, of course, shouldn’t be big news to anyone who’s been paying attention. It’s been a growing phenomenon for a long time.

In the article, they state the following:

“The religiously unaffiliated, called “nones,” are growing significantly. They’re the second largest religious group in North America and most of Europe. In the United States, nones make up almost a quarter of the population. In the past decade, U.S. nones have overtaken Catholics, mainline Protestants, and all followers of non-Christian faiths.”

So the “Nones,” as they are often called, are gaining momentum. When asked on a census form, for example, “What is your religious affiliation,” their answer is a simple, “None.” They have no affiliation.

To be honest, that really doesn’t say much. It could simply mean they haven’t joined anyone or made up their mind. It can be startling, however—especially to those of us who have always had a clear affiliation in one direction or another.

It’s probably easier to understand or deal with someone who has some sort of declaration to fall back upon. If you tell me you’re an atheist, a Jew, or a Muslim, I have something to go on. If you tell me you’re a None, I’m not sure where you’re coming from.

I can understand (at least to a point) someone who doesn’t believe in any god. I think I can understand someone from a different faith experience than my own. But someone who has nothing to declare is a bit harder for me to grasp. I’ve always had some sort of affiliation. It has evolved and changed over the years, but I could always tell you what it was.

I can’t relate…

I think my biggest problem with them is simply that I can’t relate. I’m not sure, but that just might be their biggest problem with us as well. They can’t relate to the church (or the synagogue, or the atheist). Frankly, I must say that I can’t blame them. We’re not always very relatable.

A lot of handwringing is being done (at least in Christian circles) about these folks. How do we reach them? What are they looking for? And, of course, who can relate to them?

Maybe we just need to go back to being what the church was meant to be—what it was at the time of the writing of the New Testament. Then, she was a community of people who loved each other and cared about the world around them. Anyone can relate to that.

[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and is currently the pastor of Smith Chapel, in Great Falls, VA.]

 

You Are Here

Virtually every time I take a trip to the mall (which isn’t very often), I have to make a quick stop at the directory. Actually, most of the time it’s not a quick stop at all. Usually, I spend more time studying the map than I do at the store when I find it. I’m okay at reading road maps, but mall maps give me a bit of trouble. I’m not exactly sure why that is.

As a matter of fact, the only saving grace I have on these shopping excursions is the arrow that says, “You Are Here.” Even those can be problematic if they’re not prominent enough. I need big, red ones that jump out at me. Those babies are really helpful.

Finding Myself

Once I see where I am, I have a lot better chance figuring out where to go. Even then, negotiating the best route is not a sure thing. I guess mall travel is not my forte.

I suppose living is a bit like that. We seem to spend a lot of time figuring out where we are in life. Along with that goes the necessity of figuring out who we are as well. I suppose that’s how we end up with phrases like, “getting in touch with yourself,” “relating to my inner child,” and “finding myself.” All these things tend to assist us in finding the big, red arrow on the map of life that says, “You Are Here.”

For me, however, there is one huge, red arrow that has helped me for a long time. There’s a passage of Scripture (John 1:12) that tells us that believing in Jesus gives us the right (authority or power) to become children of God. That is my “You Are Here” arrow. That’s the marker I need. It helps me to know who I am and where I am in life.

Navigating the Mall…Navigating Life

Granted, that doesn’t guarantee I’ll know how to navigate from there, but it’s a great starting point. Like the directory at the mall, it doesn’t assure that I’ll take the best route to my destination. Truth be told, I’ve already taken some really awkward detours along the way. I don’t doubt a few more of these deviations await me in the future as well. Like navigating the mall, living my life tends to mislead me into a few circuitous routes. My pathway is not always as straightforward as I would like.

Fortunately, there are a lot of road signs along the way. Friends, family, neighbors, Scripture, community, circumstances, and even strangers help shed light on the roadway. While forks in the road are not always clearly marked, they always lead to an adventure that will (at the very least) steer me back to a route that will put me on the right track again.

I find comfort and confidence as one who has been given the right to become a child of God. I’m not always sure where I’m headed, but I know where to begin the journey.

[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and is currently the pastor of Smith Chapel, in Great Falls, VA.]