A Note Inside a Gideon Bible: “There is no truth only perception”

Complimentary Story
   One hundred people living in a defined area decide to form a closed government.  They are composed of various ages, sexes, nationalities, faiths, and skills.  It is perceived that a democracy would be the best choice.  Everyone will contribute to maintaining their government by paying support (taxes) equal to their financial capability and have an equal vote.  Of the 100 citizens belonging to this government, 10 pay 59% of the support, 50 pay 41% and 40 (mostly because of a lack of responsibility) pay nothing.  
    
   It is agreed that someone should be “boss,” and make decisions for the whole which would be decided by an election.  Two citizens who are equally qualified desire the office.  Candidate number one is for maintaining order, responsibility, and benefiting the whole of the democracy.  Candidate number two is also for the same values, but realizing he may lose the election because he is not as popular as candidate number one decides to entice the voters.  Even though it will not benefit the whole he proceeds to offer the 40 (in exchange for their vote) some of the benefits which the 60 already have.  They enthusiastically take up the invitation and vote for the candidate that will favor their greed.  Soon some of the majority, who previously paid tax, drift into the ranks of the minority because they are making less or no profit.  With each succeeding election the scenario escalates.  Is democracy fair to all people or does it depend on one’s perception? 

   But this is not the end of the story.  In order to assure their political party stays in office,  they decide to “open their borders” to new members (in exchange for their support) and no longer have a closed government.  Bringing with them their own culture, religion, political views, and being handicapped by language and education, they become part of the minority who drain their government and contribute little tax support.  They are, however, part of a democracy with equal voting rights.  Soon the minority becomes the majority while the original 10% declines in size and ability to support the whole.  Is this what the original 100 perceived when they formed their government?

   Suppose ten men go out for dinner at a certain restaurant. The bill for all ten comes to $100.  Four men (the poorest) paid nothing, 5 men paid a total of $41, and the tenth man (the richest) paid $59.  The ten men ate dinner in the restaurant quite often and seemed happy with the arrangement until one day the owner threw them a curve.

   “Since you are all such good customers and as an encouragement to come more often,” he said, “I’m going to reduce the cost of your daily meal by $20 — something like a tax break.”  How could they divvy up the $20 windfall so that everyone would get his “fair share?”  The democratic approach would be to allow the most benefit from the reduction to the one paying most of the bill.  The first four continued to eat for free and each of the six was better off than before.  But once outside the restaurant the men began to compare their savings.  Pointing to the tenth man one of the others said, “It’s unfair that he got ten times more than me!”  “That's true! The wealthy get all the breaks,” said another!  “Wait a minute,” yelled the first four, “We didn’t get anything.”  The nine beat the tenth.  

   The next dinner date, the tenth man didn’t come, so the nine sat down and ate without him.  But when it came time to pay the bill they discovered something interesting. They didn’t have enough money because the tenth man decided not to show up at the table!  Is truth to some people only how they interpret or perceive it?    

   When traveling I usually check to see if the motel we are staying in has a Gideon Bible in our room.  Recently I found this handwritten note enclosed in one:  “There is no truth only perception.”  Surveys show the majority of people today hold to this view.  

   A few years ago, I drove past a Lutheran church on Easter and noticed dozens of people depositing colored eggs around the church grounds and beneath a cross.  There was no reference to Christianity or the day to be remembered other than this pagan ritual.  Although most people would perceive this to be a Christian church, their display told me otherwise.  

   A similar event took place on Mother’s Day. I drove by a Catholic church and observed a few people carrying roses they had purchased as a result of a Mother’s Day celebration.  If I were to perceive from this display that the church was pro-life, I would be wrong, for it does not have a history of any form of pro-life activity whatsoever.  

   Years ago, my wife Susan and I attended a church in Florida that holds a strong defense of the Cultural Mandate (Genesis) given by God to mankind.  After returning to Madison,  she contacted a local church of the same denomination perceiving it would also instruct and uphold the teaching of our Florida church.  However, the pastor told her, “We are in a different culture now,” and in an act of spinelessness, would not defend what God has commanded.  In Revelation 21:8, God first lists cowards among those who will experience the “Second Death.”
   What we perceive to be true can be deceptive!  

   An acquaintance of our family gave birth a few months ago to a baby girl.  Even though she no longer practices the Christian faith, this young mother apparently wanted to “cover all the bases.”  She contacted the church she had previously attended and also a pastor she knew at another church asking them to participate in a “dedication” for her child.  Because this lady was no longer a Christian, they obviously refused.  Believing “there is no truth, only perception,” the mother partook in a “baby blessing” for her child at a Wicca ceremony instead.    
                             
   Weather forecasters made a big fuss over the destruction that hurricane Harvey was going to do, but as it turned out hurricane Harvey was as much factious as the big rabbit Harvey with Jimmy Stewart.  

   I am however, familiar with the New Orleans and Biloxi Mississippi hurricane Katrina of a few years back.  I have stayed in both cities.  From media reports, one would perceive these towns to be completely destroyed and the unfortunate people who lived there before the hurricane, victims of a disaster beyond their control.  Such is not the case.  The main force of the hurricane hit the Biloxi area, and because of the tidal surge from the Gulf, everything on the beach and for a little more than a block inland was destroyed.  But after two blocks of destruction, the damage dramatically subsides.  

   Wind did little to New Orleans.  The city was flooded because a levee that had been questionable for many years broke.  When we toured the city a few weeks ago, the ground was dry, grass was beginning to grow, and a few areas looked to be in perfect condition.  However, the vast majority of the city remains as the waters left it.  Virtually no one had done anything to repair and rebuild. The question is why.  Reports from news media would have us believe our federal government is to blame by not allowing money to be released from insurance companies.  This again is not true.  Insurance companies are governed by the State Insurance Commission of each state (not the federal government) and are subject to fine or revocation of their charter if found in default of paying claims.  People who had flood insurance have been paid as agreed.  The problem is (even though 80% of the city is below sea level), most people in greater New Orleans were not responsible enough to purchase flood insurance.  What is being held is free money from the government (from our taxes), because there is no responsible plan by the city or its homeowners to eliminate a further occurrence.  What our news media considers truth can be perceptive and deceptive.   

   Since the beginning of time, there has been division in religious beliefs.  The Christian church has struggled with disagreements among sincere people from the end of the first century, including the personhood of Christ, original sin, the Holy Spirit, and the Trinity, to name only a few.  What was perceived as truth by early Christians is thought to be false by many more “enlightened” people today.  The Eastern Church did not wish to separate from the West but did so because of disagreements concerning the authority of a pope.  It was not the intention of Luther to separate from Rome but their disagreements could not be resolved internally.  

   Protestant denominations separate and form new denominations because of how they perceive truth.  Protestantism has become so obsessed with preaching salvation through “faith without works” it has become of no earthly value concerning abortion, homosexuality, divorce, pornography, adultery, or any of the other great evils of our day!  Why dwell on things that divide?  God’s message in Revelation 3:16 is as relevant as Christ’s message in John 3:16.  The church in Laodicea trusted in Christ but God rejected it because it became little more than a social club.  The Christian church of today (Catholic and Protestant) needs to change its demeanor or change its name!  

   I read a story of a little boy who developed a few questions as a result of real life experiences.  “Mother,” he said, “I don’t understand.”

   “You don’t understand what, dear?” asked his mother.  

   “You know, in the news they have been talking about selling liquor.  If they sold more liquor we could collect more taxes and help our schools.  If the taxes from liquor go to our schools, shouldn’t we try to get everyone to drink more liquor so we can help the school children?  And isn’t Mr. Budweiser, the alcoholic who lives down the street, the best supporter of our schools?  He buys more liquor than anyone else and that means he pays more taxes into our schools than anyone else.  And that man who was drinking when he was driving and killed the little boy, why didn’t he go to jail?  Remember that other man who had been drinking and shot his wife?  They put him in jail.  Why didn’t the man who was driving the car that killed the boy go to jail?  Is it worse to kill someone with a gun than it is with a car when you are drinking?”  

   “I read in the paper that gambling was permitted so the state could collect taxes on it.  That man who spent his paycheck at the casino, he is such a good man to give the casino his paycheck.”

   “And there’s another thing I don’t understand.  Who is the bad person, the one who leaves his keys in the car or the person who steals the car?  I thought the car was the man’s property but the ads on television said the man made the boy a crook by leaving his keys in his car.  The ad didn’t tell the boy he should not steal the car.  Mother, is the reason we lock our doors when we leave the house to keep a good person from going bad?”

   “The ads on television say a mother should stay away from second-hand smoke when she has a little baby living inside her because it could cause harm to the baby.  But if she doesn’t want the baby why do they call it something else, that it is not a real baby, and why is she allowed to have it killed?  What did the baby do that was wrong?  And if people can get fined for smoking in buildings because it can harm an innocent person’s health, why do they not fine people who spread AIDS, and why should we be sympathetic to them when we are not sympathetic to the smoker?”  

   “When Uncle Ben died we went to church, but Uncle Ben never did go to church while he was living.  Why did we take him to church when he died?  If you go to church when you die, does that mean you will go to heaven?”  

   “Grandpa said there are things that are right and things that are wrong.  He told me certain things are always true, but my teachers tell me Grandpa is wrong.  They say something may be wrong for me but not necessarily wrong for someone else and that there is no truth, only perception.  Mother what does that mean?  I don’t understand.”  

   He isn’t alone! 

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