There ain’t nothin’ more powerful than the odor of mendacity…You can smell it. It smells like death.
–Big Daddy in Tennessee Williams Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
Recently I watched the old classic movie Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Elizabeth Taylor and Paul Newman put on memorable performances of the Tennessee Williams piece. Another character was Big Daddy played by Burl Ives. Ives has one of those voices that resonates in the mind as well as the ear.
Big Daddy was a dying, self-made man. Family members and even a church deacon poured on the flattery as they anticipated the passing along of Big Daddy’s fortunes. He was keenly aware of this when he spoke his words about mendacity.
Just what is mendacity? It is deception, falsehood, divergence from the truth, a lie. Big Daddy could smell the deception…and it did not smell pleasant. It never does.
It doesn’t smell pleasant when fictional characters scheme for an inheritance.
It really doesn’t smell pleasant when actual characters scheme, twist or distort the truth.
This is why Americans have such a distaste for politics. We know what we are hearing is the distortion of what is true and we are offended…unless it defends a position we hold.
In the past 24 hours I have read two glaring examples of this type of playing loose with the truth. The first was from a lesbian writer endorsed by one of my family members. This writer began with an opposing view on a hot button topic and proceeded to attack those she opposed for matters far beyond this one topic that had no foundation in the truth.
The other was from a Baptist pastor who clearly distorted the words of a political candidate. This distortion troubles me more than the previous one. A Baptist pastor (any pastor) is charged with being able to rightly handle the word of truth.
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, and their talk will spread like gangrene.
(2 Timothy 2:15-17 ESV)
How much confidence can we place in a man’s biblical hermeneutics when they demonstrate such poor interpretation skills of modern conversation?
Plenty of views and statements clearly deserve our critique. We have no need to twist and distort so that we have more ammunition. Once we speak truth, then the aroma will be much more pleasant.