Sunday, March 08, 2009

The Devil Wears Pravda

Read that title again.

Did you read it as "The Devil Wears Prada" (P-r-a-d-a)? Or as "The Devil Wears Pravda" (P-r-a-v-d-a)? If you read it as the first title, you were wrong: you were probably, and quite understandably, thinking of the book or the movie by the same title.

The Prada in "The Devil Wears Prada" refers, of course, to Prada, the Italian designer label. How exactly Prada relates to the Diabolical One is the subject of aforesaid book and movie.

But what about the Pravda in the second title, "The Devil Wears Pravda"?

Pravda, meaning "Truth" in Russian, was the name of a leading newspaper that was run by the Central Committee of the Communist Party in the Soviet Union. This name is exceedingly ironic given what we know about the Soviet era and its widespread misuse of propaganda.

But back to the immediate question at hand: In what sense is it that "The Devil Wears Pravda"?

In his writings, St. Paul speaks of Satan transforming himself into an angel of light and his servants transforming themselves into servants of righteousness (2 Cor. 11: 12-15).

In other words: The Devil Wears Pravda.

The devil (evil) rarely comes dressed in a red suit, with horns and brandishing a three-pronged staff.

On the contrary, evil often comes packaged as "truth" or "freedom" or "justice". The devil is, quite literally, in the details: in the outworking and full ramifications of what is being presented.

Many lies, much bondage and major injustice has been inflicted on mankind in the name of the exact opposite (namely truth, freedom and justice).

Take just one example: Everyone knows that overpopulation is one of the greatest threats to the planet and to mankind, right?


The truth is the exact opposite. Julian Simon amassed copious evidence to debunk this and many other commonly held economic and social "truths". (Vividly illustrating Julian Simon's ideas, UCLA economist Deepak Lal noted the absurdity of the view that if a cow has a child per capita income automatically goes up, while if a human has a child it automatically goes down.)

The lesson is this. Nothing presented or peddled as truth should be automatically accepted as truth at face value. Everything must be thoroughly probed and examined and only what passes the most stringent tests is to be accepted as the truth. Likewise, anything that fails the tests must be rejected as lies.

The analogy with designer labels holds good. Polonius in Hamlet observes: "For the apparel oft proclaims the man." Not quite. More accurately, we should say: the apparel often proclaims the man's intended image and not necessarily who or what the man really is. Designer clothes project a certain image which may be far removed from the actual character of the man wearing them.

The only way to confirm the presence of truth is to test for it. Appearances can be deceiving. You see, the Devil wears Pravda.


ambersun said...

An awesome post.

We all have to think through 'truths', especially cultural ones.

Last century in my country (australia) indigenous children were taken from their parents to 'civilise them'. We are now shocked and sorry for this.

What will future generations be shocked and sorry about from us.

The Bible is, as you suggest, very useful indeed for cutting through all the cultural rubbish.

God Bless


Mjumo Mzyece said...

Amber, thank you for your comments.

The main point I was trying to make was that what is *presented* as truth must pass the test of truth. I do not, however, subscribe to the view that comes under the various slogans of "truth is relative", "everyone has his or her own truth", and so forth, not least because of the fact that the "truth" of relative or personal truth is always presented as an absolute truth itself! Truth is and must of necessity be absolute.