Episode 1. What is "Truth" in a Media World?
We live in a cluttered media landscape don’t we – constantly being bombarded with conflicting messages and voices. And so one of the questions – according to a recent survey – that young …
We live in a cluttered media landscape don’t we – constantly being bombarded with conflicting messages and voices. And so one of the questions – according to a recent survey – that young women have is “what about truth?” Is there actually such a thing these days and if so, where do you get it?
When Pontius Pilate was under pressure from an angry mob to have this Jesus, who claimed to be the Son of God, crucified it wasn’t an easy time. Jesus was innocent clearly, that’s what the evidence said but the crowd on the other hand was baying for His blood.
What do you do? Which way do I turn? Hand Him over, protect Him, what would the ramifications be? What if there was a riot and word got back to Rome, to Caesar? In the middle of this mille Jesus says to him:
The reason I came into this world is to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice’. But Pilate asked Him, ‘What is truth?’
Truth should be obvious. But amongst the noise, the hubbub, the screaming voices, the political pressures, the traditions, right then and there in that moment, truth wasn’t particularly obvious to Pontius Pilate. And I wonder whether in the crowded media world of today where we’re being bombarded with entertainment and competing messages, so much noise, I wonder whether truth still today isn’t something of a casualty in people’s lives.
I’m joined again on the program this week by Choe Brereton and Janelle Knox who have been chatting with me about the issues that really matter in the lives of young women.
Berni: Welcome to you both.
Janelle/Choe: Hi Berni, thanks for having us.
Berni: Now in the survey you’ve just completed of young women this whole issue of truth comes up as one of the key issues doesn’t it?
Choe: Absolutely! It’s a bit of a hilarious issue when you think about it in the context of everything that a lot of young girls are exposed especially in the media. Well, I say hilarious, it’s actually not, but I find it funny because I’ve been sucked in completely. A lot of times of what I’ve been told as truth and I sit in front of the TV and like we were talking earlier about this mascara that lengthens my eyelashes and I’ve tried them all. I’ve bought at least two hundred dollars worth of mascara to try and get my eyelashes lengthened and in the end it’s just down to my genetic make up.
But that’s what I’m trying to say. There’s a lot out there trying to say, this is what’s really true and what’s really real, but of course it can’t be because truth is an absolute thing. It’s either true or it’s not and when the truth starts changing from season to season then you start to wonder is that really true? So there’s a lot out there telling young girls one thing but of course the truth is completely different.
Berni: So what do you think makes the media tick? I mean stand back from it, whether it’s the latest reality TV show or the most recent American sitcom or the way they advertise things, what’s going on in the media? It’s big, it’s ritzy, it’s glitzy, and people are pushing stuff. What makes the whole thing tick? Why is it the way it is?
Janelle: Well, I think the media’s just driven by viewers that’s driven by culture and they then drive the culture of the day too by what they’re selling, and a lot of the time they’re selling an ideal and the ideal is usually an impossible ideal.
You can’t live up to being the model at the front of this magazine who’s been air brushed. I mean, she’s not even real herself and yet we buy into that and go, “Well she’s got no cellulite therefore I don’t want cellulite.” We buy all the cosmetics that go with having no cellulite and you know, like we know it doesn’t work. It doesn’t work so I think they are driving a culture and then culture drivers drive the media as well and I think the culture of today, they really are seeking a true compass, they know that there’s no reality in the media or very little of it.
Berni: But like Choe, they get sucked into it.
Berni: I mean we keep swallowing the hook, hook, line and sinker. It’s glitzy, it’s seductive, it’s got cerebral curve appeal. You want to pull up next to it because it kind of, ‘Wow if I could take this pill and lose five kilograms in one week, guaranteed’.
Choe: You know it’s telling you you’re not good enough. You can be better if you just do this and you think ‘Oh right, well, for a hundred dollars that’s not bad’ and of course you do it and it’s not. And that’s the thing about truth that it’s not true unless it’s true, if that makes sense and like I said it’s an absolute thing, anything outside of that is obviously not true.
Berni: So let me ask you the Pontius Pilate question, what is truth? In a world that is constantly remorphing itself, is there such a thing as objective truth? I mean is there an absolute truth and does it have something to say to us today?
Janelle: There is one absolute truth and Jesus said it Himself:
I am the way, I am the truth and I am the life.
And so that’s what we need to find, Jesus in the centre of all of that He says and He promises that He is the way, He is the truth and He will be your life, He will give you life that you aspire to if you can just be in Him.
Berni: But don’t you reckon that can sound a bit corny? I’m being pretty tough here, you’ve got someone, a young woman who’s been sucked into, “You can lengthen your eyelashes by buying this mascara”, just to use one particular example.
Choe: I’m not going to live this down. (All laugh)
Berni: There are only fifteen million people who’ve heard this Choe so you’re right, it’s our little secret. So don’t you reckon that can come across sounding lame?
Choe: It absolutely can come across sounding lame but sometimes the truth does sound lame because it’s true. It’s not what everyone else is telling you, it’s completely different from that and as someone who does get sucked into these things I had to actually start to learn what the truth about all of this was and I didn’t have a compass other than Gods Word, I really didn’t.
You have your parents telling you one thing which you hope is true and usually it is, all good parents do, you have your friends telling you another thing, you have all these other people telling you everything that they think based on experience, you have to figure it out for yourself and all I had was God’s Word and I say “all” because it was what I ended up actually aspiring to in the end, it was the only thing that worked Berni, it really was! It’s the only thing that gave me the confidence that I needed to step up without whatever else I thought I needed.
I’m learning now, I’m learning from what God says, you know He says, “You’re wonderfully made, you’re amazing.” Okay, fine, I’ll believe that, you’re this, you’re this, I love you, I can do all this for you. And that’s what I mean, that’s where my compass is now.
Janelle: I think that, sorry, there’s nothing wrong with curling your hair or wanting to put on some mascara, there’s nothing really wrong with that.
Berni: I think I’d look great with curly hair.
Choe: Berni you would just do the curls man. (All laugh)
Janelle: But there’s nothing wrong with those things as long as you don’t find all of your value in that one thing. And that’s where we wanted to try and point people back to what is absolute truth and the absolute truth is no one person, apart from God, no one pair of jeans, no one cosmetic cream is going to give you all of the things that they promise.
Only God can do that in and amongst Himself so whilst we’re saying that you can’t base your value and your purpose on what the world is telling you, you know we live in the world but God just tells us not to be of the world, not to be sucked in to the things that the world tells us, it’s going to give us success or it’s going to bring us to this ideal place in the world. It’s really only Him that can do that and so being in Him and sticking with Him even when everything else is telling you to the contrary, that’s the hardest part but that’s the absolute truth.
Berni: It seems to me, I wonder whether people are looking for truth, I wonder whether they use those words, whether they’re looking for something that actually works. Something’s that are reliable, something that pragmatically experientially they can say, “You know what, I don’t care what other people say I know that this works.” And I guess when I came to Christ seventeen odd years ago I was looking for something that actually worked and I’m a pretty tough nut.
I’m not airy fairy spiritual sort of guy, I’m pretty grounded and hard nosed and actually with all the things I’ve tried in my life in the last fifty three years truly the only thing that works in terms of giving me satisfaction, in terms of giving me a sense of quiet, peace and contentment and fulfilment is actually following your heart after Jesus. I’ve tried a lot of things and believe me I’ve spent a lot of money trying a lot of things, it’s the only thing that’s worked. Mind you maybe if I could have longer eyelashes. (All laugh)