Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Your Pants Are On Fire
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there were a way we could instantly tell if someone was telling the truth or trying to pass a lie by us. According to Wikipedia (see how much I have grown in my technological savvy) "the idea that lying produces physical side-effects has long been claimed. In West Africa persons suspected of a crime were made to pass an ostrich’s egg to one another. If a person broke the egg, then he or she was considered guilty, based upon the idea that their nervousness was to blame. In ancient China the suspect held a handful of rice in his or her mouth during a prosecutor’s speech. Because salivation was believed to cease at times of emotion anxiety, the person was considered guilty if by the end of that speech the rice was dry.” All of this eventually led to the invention of the polygraph or lie detector.
When I was a child and we thought someone was not telling the truth, we used to chant, "liar, liar, your pants are on fire, your nose is longer than a telephone wire.” Good thing that childish ditty doesn’t really happen, or we’d all have singed pants and a nose that would rival Pinocchio's.
Some years ago Jim Carrey played the role of an attorney, Fletcher Reede, who often bent the truth to his advantage. That is until his eight-year-old son Max makes a wish as he blows out the candles on his birthday cake. His wish is that his dad could go one day without telling a lie.The whole movie spins around how difficult it is for Fletcher to go even one day telling the truth and nothing but the truth.
Childish rhymes and slapstick comedy give way to more serious scenarios. A new baseball season opens this week. At one time baseball great Barry Bonds was a shoe-in for the Hall of Fame. Now it seems like he is destined for the hall of shame. Bond's mistress testified the other day at his perjury trial in U.S. District Court about his steroid use. She told the court, “I’m not a liar.” The court will have to sort out who is telling the truth and who is bearing false witness. Seems like these old Ten Commandments just won’t go away.
Sermon preview: As with all the other commandments we have examined so far in this series, there is another side to not bearing false witness, aside from the obvious. I'll delve into this other side of telling the truth this week, using the story of the time my friend almost drove off the side of I-77 while driving through the mountainous stretch near the North Carolina/Virginia line....all because of something he heard on the radio….me! See you this week as we ask…"How Far Do My Words Travel?"