Speaking Truth to Power

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“Ken, that subtitle for this column, ‘Speaking Truth to Power….,’ a reader might begin their feed-back to me, “…can’t possibly mean that you are about to tell me that I can, or even must, teach my children to ‘Speak truth to power.’” 

Before reading further, please listen to this song by David Edwards, who was a Disciples of Christ Pastor and talented song writer and musician until his death from cancer just two years ago tomorrow, March 4.  David will help you to begin thinking even more deeply about talking with your children about truth.

David Edwards – What will we say to the children?

Well, I agree, it sounds like a radical idea.  Most adults are not confident that they can discern truth with such prophetic conviction and clarity that they are willing and able to assail the principalities and powers of the world with a “word of truth”?  You can be declared insane (Old Testament prophet Jeremiah) for speaking truth to power.  You can be hung by the neck until dead (Dieterich Bonhoeffer) for opposing evil rulers.  You can be nailed to a Roman cross (Jesus of Nazareth) for vocalizing revolutionary thoughts. 

“Only Adults of unusual wisdom and prodigious courage can be assigned such a role,” any loving parent might be expected to say.  “Certainly, not my child!” 

Yet, I had no difficulty thinking of a great children’s story that could be used to introduce the subject of children learning to speak truth to power.  I considered making a video of myself telling the story of, The Emperor’s New Clothes.  However, while researching versions of this story I discovered that you can find colorful and creative recordings of the story on youtube.  You could take a few minutes, find one of these delightful recordings and watch it with your children.  You could discuss with them questions like these: 

  • Why did the king’s best friends lie to him about the invisible clothes?
  • What do you think happened to the boy who told the truth?
  • Why do you think important people tell lies? 
  • What can we do to know the truth when people want to deceive us?
  • If you heard someone telling a lie and you knew the truth, would you tell the truth? 

The open and thoughtful conversation between you and children is what matters most, not the specific answers.

If you have read my book, God Is Just Love, you may recall that chapter 11 has the title, “Telling the Truth to Our Children.”  My overall message in that chapter is that children can handle a lot more truth, wisely told of course, than we think they can.  Sometimes we must protect children, but never at the cost of leaving them unprepared for their future. They must learn how to know and tell the truth because deceptions, denials and lies are severely damaging the world they are growing up in. 

Jesus has a lot to say about the capacities of Children to find hope, be love and inherit the Kingdom of God.  But the children are also honored for their truth-telling at a most perilous moment.  Honestly, I cannot recall ever paying attention to this scene until last week.

With indignation and ferocity, Jesus has cleansed the temple. 

Danger dominates events in the courtyard.

Any loving parent would be excused should they grab their kids and flee danger with all deliberate speed.   

The chief priests and teachers of the law, who are among the principalities and powers of their times, are enraged and they protest to Jesus:

But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw…the children shouting in the temple     courts, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they were indignant. “Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked him. “Yes,” replied Jesus, “have you never read,

“‘From the lips of children and infants
you, Lord, have called forth your praise’?”

Matthew 21:15-16

Let the children shout the truth!

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