Friends and Fellow Travelers,
Ever been caught in a lie? I remember throwing toilet paper all over a neighbor's trees one fateful Halloween, only to come around the corner and find myself face to face with the dreaded, 'Mrs B' who sat in her rocking chair with, yes, a shotgun draped across her lap. There I stood, a roll of TP in my hand, at which point I hastily muttered something about happening across this roll of toilet paper and that I was, er, ah...... in the process returning it to its rightful owner...blah, blah, blah.
Mrs B wasn't buying it. My attempt to alter the narrative proved futile.
I've been reading through the book of Exodus of late. Just read about God's turning the Nile blood red. I wondered to myself, 'Why this? Why the Nile? Why blood red? What's that all about?'
Then I remembered that Pharoah had ordered that Hebrew baby boys be thrown into the Nile after birth as a way of reducing their numbers and averting any ethnic threat to his carefully constructed empire.
The thought then occurred to me, 'Could it be that God, by turning the Nile red, was causing everyone to see, first hand, the genocidal and predatory nature of Pharaoh's empire? The waters of the Nile, which brought life to countless Egyptians, had become a means of death for countless Jews. It would seem that God was uncovering an ugly reality, exposing it for all to see?
Majesty was peeled back and malevolence was revealed. Substance replaced pretense.
Revealing-reality is just what God does. Theologians call pretense-removal 'a revelatory act.'
Reality-repressing is not only what Pharoah did, it's what I do. Frankly, it's what we all do.
The first instance of 'reality repression' or 'pretense' is recorded in Genesis 3, when, in his shame, Adam elected to 'cover himself' physically using animal skins. He then attempted to 'cover himself' morally by shifting blame to Eve....and, by extension, to God himself.
Reality repression: It's easy to spot in others, but difficult to spot in ourselves. It almost always involves the use of the word 'just.'
'I don't have a problem with porn, it's just passing entertainment.
'I don't want my kids to become materialistic...I just want them to have what their friends have.' just
I scream and yell on the sidelines, not because winning is that important to me. I just want my kids to know I support them.
'I don't have a problem with alcohol, I just like to have a relaxing drink when I get home from work.'
'I don't care about my image or status, I just like to post pics on Facebook.'
'I don't play politics at the office, it's just that I need to protect myself from those who do.'
I think that's what I admire so much about AA. In most other settings, pretense and reality-repression is the unquestioned norm. At AA it's the only deadly sin.