Too bad to be true?

A kerfuffle broke out in various quarters of the internet over a study recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The study was conducted early in the USA’s rollout of COVID vaccinations and aimed to gather data on the potential danger of mRNA vaccines to pregnant women. Somewhere along the way, a claim was made that the study found miscarriages occurring in 82% of pregnancies. LifeSite News, a website trusted by many Mad Christians to bring true information about vaccines and abortion also reported this sensational headline.

Rev. Fisk thought something smelled funky, requesting fact-checking by the Us-the-Chill brain trust— they did not disappoint. Bill, a resident number-cruncher summarizes as follows:

“Here’s what we’re given:

  1. Researchers publish study in NEJM that claims (and here I’ll quote directly) ‘Preliminary findings did not show obvious safety signals among pregnant persons (sic) who received mRNA Covid-19 vaccines.’
  2. Claims circulated that said the researchers were failing to acknowledge that their own numbers reveal that 82% of those receiving the vaccine had a miscarriage. Further claims are that MSM won’t cover it because it doesn’t fit the narrative. Etc. “

Bill also suggested that the study’s design is a little confusing to the non-statistically minded, but concluded: “This particular study does not sway me one way or the other. I cannot, based on this study alone, claim the vaccine to be low risk, nor can I claim it to be high risk. Not enough information.”

It is sad to see LifeSite publish this news, when a little digging might have given them pause, and yet it shows that you can never check your brain at the door when assessing news today. The fact-checkers have not been without their biases, but in this instance, PolitiFact (yes, the one Facebook relies on for its “Truth-O-Meter”) made a fairly good summary of the situation. LifeSite has since pulled their article on the study, stating that it needs reviewing.

There is a quip, attributed to Mark Twain, about lies being able to travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes. The amount of information presented to us every day is one thing, but the speed of a Twitter feed turnover is akin to a digital autobahn. Whether half-truths and lies start with an Instagram post, a conservative news outlet, or a government agency, we need to take time to assess them. 

If something fits our narrative too cleanly, it is wise to be a little suspicious. Those without hope in the world cling to any information that endorses their worldview. Being on the “right side of history” is the self-justifying project of the modern man and morsels of half-truth are tasty – for a time. But Mad Christians do not need the world to fit into neat categories, because we know whose world it is. God’s trustworthy word says it best, “The simple believes every word, but the prudent considers well his steps.” ~Proverbs 14

Modern Lies: Chronological Order

“If something is in order, it is better.” 

This is an assumption you will have difficulty parting ways with. It is drilled into us to believe wholeheartedly that chronological order is “more true.”

An example plays out like this: St. John has Jesus cleansing the temple early in his public life, and the synoptic writers have him cleansing it late. The best the last two centuries of Christianity can do with this “perceived inconsistency” is to hem, hah, fight, and muster until we have drawn up battle lines. One side insists that Jesus cleansed the temple twice. The other that the Bible is riddled with errors yet still filled with great metaphorical truths.

Behold, and bow to your lord and savior Chronos! It appears impossible for the modern mind to even consider the option that the “inconsistency” only exists in our heads because of the assumption that chronological order is a primary truth.

It’s still taught in dusty corners that the ancients actually didn’t give a hoot about historical timing when recounting events for posterity. What we would assert to be “lying” they would say is “highlighting the important parts.” If you find yourself naturally disagreeing with “their” take, that is because this assumption that “in chronological order” means “more true” is hard to get away from.

The resulting worldview lives its modern life assuming that anything less than perfectly chronological is therefore “less than true.” After long reflection, I must say that this seems to me to reflect a perilous abandonment of the holy fear of God.Long before the modern “we swear we’re not religious!” “deists” started moralizing so loudly that the rest of the world should put great hope in the utopian capacity of their officially “godless” thinking, nations were trying not to fall, people were trying not to die, and God (or the gods) seemed like the evident, obvious answer.“

But now, things have changed.” That’s the “new” pitch.

In this, “modernism” is not a thesis, but an antithesis. It is not revelation, but an attempt at ultimate alpha privation. It does not add. It takes away, and then has the audacity to call itself a progressive “evolution.”Christianity does not need to reject this. Modernism postures itself as the rejection of Christianity (i.e. the non-necessity of specifics regarding your answer to the question, “Who, after all, is Jesus?”). Christianity need only remember our moorings, and not be dissuaded by all the bluster and hocus pocus. We need only bide our time, watching and expecting the modern experiment to eat itself to death.“But now, things have changed,” promises the freedom of new hope, but in the end it is the birth of endless equivocation, leading only to deeper and deeper toilet bowls of skeptical doubt, rage and despair. “In order” is a matter of perspective, and this can be of great value. But “more true” means “it never really was true to begin with,” and that will not do you any good in the long run.

Reliable truth is never in part, but in whole. Before long, every attempt to become “more true” with partial truths only descends into a hopelessly half-true hall of mirrors in which all your efforts are also the source of your greatest fears, regrets and doubts.

I do not deny alpha privation. I only deny its superiority to revelation. Doubt comes by questioning. Certainty comes by hearing.

Hear about Jesus more.

He is risen. Alleluia to it.

Till angel cry and trumpet sound,
Jonathan Fisk