My Lies

PiazzaDellaRotonda5_edited-1Piazza Della Rotunda, Rome

Photography by D. Plasman

When I lie, it doesn’t become news, at least not on the scale of the lies told by an NBC news anchor. I’ve never been fired from a job because of a lie I told. I’ve been “let go” because of shrinking budgets and the need of the organization to take a new direction requiring fresh leadership, but never because of a lie traced back to me.

Recently, I was reading a sermon of mine (one of more than 1,200) preached over 25 years ago. My personal responses: (1) What a long-suffering congregation! This sermon was awful. Full of awfulness! Indeed, some congregations, like Job on the dung heap, are called to endure much. (2) Never has the English language been subject to such shoddy wordsmithing. Really? This was the best I could do? Maybe it was a week when I had to conduct two funerals. I must have had a funeral every day that week to produce a sermon this bad! (3) Oh dear, this is inexcusable: nearly an entire paragraph where I “borrowed” the insights (and, in places, the exact words!) of one of the deep influences on my life, Frederick Buechner. I never gave him credit. Damn it! (4) People get fired for this.

Sensing he would sooner or later get fired for his conflated recollections of taking on enemy fire while flying the skies over Iraq, Brian Williams was forced to accept a six-month leave of absence without pay from his $10 million job of telling the news.

All I can say is that the many sins of mine that fall in the same category (and other categories) are less public.

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  1. Dave Kidd February 12, 2015 at 9:30 pm #

    Hey, Man, you are cutting my nails too close to the quick. Maybe this is the real reason I threw most of my old sermons away when I retired….I do however, like the picture…Dave

  2. Dick Dunn February 12, 2015 at 10:44 pm #

    Frederick Buechner? At least in your busy week of perhaps two funerals a DAY, you had the good sense to quote an awesome resource. And I know the feeling. When packing up to come to Elkhart I was going through treasured files. I called out to Eva Jane, to come and hear about my finding, a ghastly sermon manuscript. “I wonder what idiot prepared and delivered this.” She responded, “You did dear…..that’s one of your earliest, more primitive efforts.” Bless her for not confirming my “idiot” status.

  3. Judy Atwater February 13, 2015 at 11:03 am #

    I think of a very important day in my life as I read your comments and those of Anne Lamott (earlier this week) on this subject. Early in therapy as a very lost young woman I exclaimed to my therapist, “I don’t think I know the difference between a lie and the truth”. Thank God he said, “I believe you”. I grew up in a secretive family where protecting “an image” triumphed over truth telling. Boy do we as a culture love “the public image”. At my therapist’s request I literally begin to write down the major “lies” controlling my life on 3 x 5 cards and then on the back I would write the truth. Initially I truly struggled with this. Then in the process I discovered the biggest “lie” of all. I was unlovable by God! Slowly The Big Truth begin to return. I am not through with this exercise. I probably have a lot of company.

  4. Marv February 13, 2015 at 4:14 pm #

    Peggy pointed out that you were also not paid $10,000,000 to write sermons at that time.