The Magnifying Glass or the Mirror

By Dane Terrell/Opinion

I never know what life event is going to bring me back to this keyboard. One time it was an election. Not just any election, but the first of a minority to the highest office of the land. One time, it was the tragic death of a local high school student. I needed to find the words to help my children grieve. What major news story brought me here this time? This time it was a simple opinion piece in a local publication and a subsequent Facebook post.

As always, I started my work day with emails and like most days, the Natchitoches Parish Journal Morning Update was the first in my inbox. I came across an article entitled “What ever happened to telling the truth?” by Edwin Crayton. Mr. Crayton makes frequent submissions to the Journal, and if I’m honest, I rarely make it through to the end of them. Most of the articles that come to mind have to do with a local non-profit and Edwin’s attempt to bring some of the board members to justice. I don’t want to make it sound as if I believe that this pursuit isn’t a worthy cause. It just doesn’t interest me. I inevitably click the close button and move on to the next article. Yesterday’s article was different in topic. It began with a brief synopsis of “The Emperor’s New Clothes”. This was not a story that I was familiar with so I found myself intrigued. I read on. Right up until the following section: “When I look at all the deception and spinning of truth and the acceptance of lies by many living in our world today, I think about that story and the healthy, healing lesson it teaches. The most striking example is how the LGBTQ Movement” CLICK. I hit the close button.

I should explain. It wasn’t the sheer mention of the LGBTQ movement that turned off my intrigue like a light switch. It was the fact that the writer would have us believe that the most striking example of the emperor’s lie in the world today has to do with the desire for the members of the LGBTQ community to seek acceptance. This, to me, seemed insignificant as compared to the death and destruction going on in the world today. I moved on from the article and went on with my day, not giving it a second thought, until…

Later that night, I was continuing my daily ritual and opened Facebook to scroll through the pages of my friends and see how their day went. I came across the page of one friend that had shared an NPJ article and in the post he wrote, “…friends, check out this article, I cannot believe I live in a town that publishes articles like this one, Natchitoches do better:” I already knew what article he was referring to. It HAD to be the one that I had abandoned earlier. Now though, my intrigue could not be quelled. I pulled up the NPJ page and read the article start to finish.

I must say, it was quite difficult to get through. It wasn’t the article itself, but the effect on my friend that pushed me through. For those like myself that clicked the close button I will give the condensed version. The rant finds fault in all of the following: the LGBTQ community, homosexuals, Same sex marriage, gay pastors, Pope Francis, Republicans, Democrats, Jews, Arabs, Hamas, and Israel. A mixed bag for sure.

I don’t want it to feel as though I am attacking Mr. Clayton’s faith or beliefs. I would, however, be remiss if I didn’t let the readers understand where I believe so many of us get it wrong. I am a Christian, but I am also a sinner. I believe that we, as Christians, should never find ourselves holding a magnifying glass to someone else’s shortcomings. I am reminded of John, Chapter 8 vs 3-8. Jesus had been teaching in the temple. The Scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman to him that had been caught committing adultery. They told Jesus that in the Law, Moses had instructed that this crime was punishable by stoning. They asked Christ what he thought should be done. He replied, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” The people, upon hearing this went away and left the woman there, alone with Jesus. He goes on to say, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”

Jesus did not say that the woman was without sin. He simply reminded the crowd that they were sinners too. He took away the crowd’s magnifying glasses and handed them mirrors. When they saw themselves in those mirrors, they knew that it wasn’t their place to cast the stones. It is my suggestion today that we all should do the same. We should not focus on what we perceive to be the shortcomings of others, rather on those of ourselves. All of our walks are different. We travel different paths. We trip over different obstacles. Who are we to decide which transgressions are more important than others if Jesus did not? Who are we to condemn, if Jesus did not?

Though these objects look similar, the magnifying glass narrows our focus on some object outside of ourselves. We lose perspective of the world around us, and can only see a small fraction of our surroundings. We cannot look forward and we cannot see behind us. The mirror, by contrast, gives us the ability to see ourselves and all of our own faults when normally, we cannot. It allows us to make the corrections that we want to make to ourselves. It also allows us to see with clarity the things in our past while keeping our eyes facing forward. Friends, we must put down our magnifying glasses and pick up our mirrors. Our lives, our friendships, our walk with God, and our discipleship will be better for it.

Whatever happened to telling the truth?