Its been the phrase of the week, well aside from knife-wielding, brexit and political unprecedents. That we’re living in a post-truth era.
I’m quite surprised its taken this long for people to realise it, but if the EU referendum told us one thing, that there was barely any truth being told, and barely any trust in the truth that was told, and thus the message was lost in the messenger, in the counter argument, and in the spin.
For the political commentators to describe this era of politics as a ‘post-truth’ era, then this feels just a little late. what it also does is suggest that there was a time when there was a ‘truth’ era in politics… right first one to tell me when that was? Ah the golden age of truth politics, 1830-1840? in the days before the media reported news and not opinionised it…
So, if it is determined that we’re living in a post truth era, then what might be the response to it, its back to that familiar, but over used word, authenticity.
The clamber for people wanting to believe in people who act according to values and principles, and stick to them is overwhelming.
Take the current pope for example.
Or dare i say it, the rise in membership by the 10,000’s of Labour supporters for Jeremy Corbyn. Love him or hate him for his weaknesses authenticity is probably one of both of these, given the situation of fighting in the power domains.
What might it mean to be an authentic leader, what might it mean to be an authentic church, to have an authentic ministry?
Authenticity has been a buzzword of the church for a while, especially in youth ministry, especially in the advent of ascertaining trends of it in a Post-modern era, in a time that is decreed that truth was deemed to be relative.
If truth were to be relative, that that isnt so far from a situation of ‘post-truthfulness’. or just lying.
And so, if post-truth era, is a way of saying communicating lying in a convincing was so people believe it as truth, then not only is authenticity an anti dote to this, but the mediums of communication that pillage the lies are complicit and need to be challenged as much as the originators of the source. The church, the clergy, bishops and those who have power have a responsibility to challenge this, even if their voice is drowned out.
Church in a post truth era, is a critically honest one, that knows its strengths and its weaknesses, and rids its own blind spots and has compassion, service and respect of peoples as a culturally political statement, that isn’t just counter cultural to media prejudice, but calls that into question as a lie.
In short post truth needs truth. To call post-truth a lie. To reclaim the truth of shared humanity. To act justly and humbly. To love unconditionally.
For the youth worker – we’ve known this a while. Young people see through anything fake. they demand integrity and authenticity.