Truth – the practice of discerning & discovering

Theme for January

Each month, our church gathers around a monthly theme and practice to guide our congregational life: worship, small groups, religious education, justice, and classes. Use these readings for reflection around the dinner table, in your own prayer practice, alone or with others.

Download 2016.1 TRUTH – the practice of discerning and discovering Packet


  • What do you know to be true, and how?
  • From what sources do you find truth?
  • How do you discern truth among many claims to truth?
  • What have you discovered by being open to new truth(s)?



In a time of universal deceit – telling the truth is a revolutionary act.
– George Orwell

Perhaps the truth depends on a walk around the lake.
– Wallace Stevens

Truth is a deep kindness that teaches us to be content in our everyday life and share with the people the same happiness.
– Khalil Gibran

A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.
– Winston Churchill

Truth is what works
– William James

You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.
– John 8

It is very hard to say the exact truth, even about your own immediate feelings—much harder than to say something fine about them which is not the exact truth.
George Eliot

The first point of wisdom is to discern what is false; the second to know what is true.
– Lactantius (240-c.320)



Tell all the truth but tell it slant — (1263)
Tell all the truth but tell it slant —
Success in Circuit lies
Too bright for our infirm Delight
The Truth’s superb surprise
As Lightning to the Children eased
With explanation kind
The Truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind —
– Emily Dickinson


The Truth
Every time I use
my language, I tell
the truth. A cat
in a white collar,
like a priest with calico
fur, walks across the dead
grass of the yard, and out
through the white fence. The sun’s
strong, but the colors of the lawn
were washed out by the winter, not the light.
February. Stained glass window of the house
next door takes the sun’s full brunt.
It must look spectacular
to the neighbor in my head,
a white-haired woman with an air
of dignity and grace, who
through pools of the intensest
colors climbs the flight of stairs.
I’ve never seen it,
but I know it’s there.
– Tim Dlugos


Truth by Afaa Michael Weaver

It was as hot as what
stars must feel like
so far away, certainly
there, inside me.

I took it in my hands,
put it where it should be
in the wet softness
where my heart sits.

Ugly things came
to threaten me, to say
I had lost the last lock
holding me to truth.

That was not true,
because old truths
were now lies, I saw
families as human.

I found the goodness
in what is not perfect,
and a new perfection
in what is not good.

This happened in
a new home twelve
time zones away, as
the world collapsed.

in a clitter clatter
like a busy kitchen,
the universe forming
now inside all of me.


Truth by Stephen Crane

“Truth,” said a traveller,
“Is a rock, a mighty fortress;
Often have I been to it,
Even to its highest tower,
From whence the world looks black.”

“Truth,” said a traveller,
“Is a breath, a wind,
A shadow, a phantom;
Long have I pursued it,
But never have I touched
The hem of its garment.”
And I believed the second traveller;
For truth was to me
A breath, a wind,
A shadow, a phantom,
And never had I touched
The hem of its garment.



Mathematics, Purpose, and Truth: The World Feels More Spacious
By Krista Tippett

An excerpt:

The deepest truths are usually impossible to see and articulate straight on.

And I feel a kindred pull to Janna Levin’s delight and passion in the great narrative of the world and humanity, epitomized in these lines from her book that we read in the show:

“I am looking on benches and streets, in logic and code. I am looking in the form of truth stripped to the bone. Truth that lives independently of us, that exists out there in the world. Hard and unsentimental. I am ready to accept truth no matter how alarming it turns out to be. Even if it proves incompleteness and the limits of human reason. Even if it proves we are not free.”

Of all the ideas Janna Levin presents, the most provocative and disturbing, perhaps, is her doubt that there is free will in human existence at all. She cannot be sure that we are not utterly determined by brilliant principles of physics and biology. Yet she cleaves more fiercely in the face of this belief to the reality of her love of her children and her hopes and dreams for them. She sees “evidence of our purpose” in figures like Gödel and Turing, even though they did not the find the clarity in life that they wrested from mathematics on all our behalf.

Paradoxically, perhaps, the world feels more spacious to me after this conversation with Janna Levin — even, to use her words, if it suggests incompleteness and the limits of human reason and faith; even if it suggests we are not free. She possesses a quality that keeps me interviewing scientists as often as a I can — a delight in beauty, a comfort with mystery, a limitless ambition for one’s grandest ideas combined with a humility about them that many religious people could learn from.


Truth Breathed into the Void
by Sandy Ramage

An excerpt:

Anna inhales, stabilizing the vessel that holds the imprint. David lifts his hands to alert the expectant keys. She sings, and truth is breathed into the void. Like any spirit, this is a creative force able to be shaped but utterly resistant to capture. Fragile in its intensity like the desert sand. Exquisitely formed, but fleeting. Gone, almost as soon as it is born. Apart, that is, from the small mark made on the drying plaster of my new minimalist interior. The unique neural fingerprint that is the image of God.


Meditation Practice

Meditation: The truth of the moment
During a meditation ask yourself: “What is the truest statement I could make about myself now?” Write the statement down and meditate upon it for a while. As you sit with it, notice what feelings it elicits. Then ask if there is a truer statement you could make about yourself. Repeat this process until you feel that you have come as close as possible to the truth of your experience in the moment.