What harm comes from telling a lie about a supernatural experience?
What harm comes from letting others believe something you’ve said refers to a supernatural experience?
What if someone “converted” to or otherwise claimed to “believe in” Jesus as a result of said telling?
Take the case of the Boy Who Returned From Heaven.
A recent, relative landslide of boys claimed to have returned from Heaven, following a brief tour during some semi-dead state, to regale us with details of the happy faces and splendid colors found there. Wonderful! I can use this to teach about Heaven to my children! Look, he went there, it must be real! Surely, a six year old boy wouldn’t lie about such dreadful and important things as God, life after death, and so on…
Well, enter a boy named, believe it or not, Malarkey.
Having told and perpetuated a lie for many years, and finding his lie not profiting himself nor his mother, said boy-now-teenager advises us to Get Right With The Bible, and blames others for having believed his tales about visiting and returning from Heaven. No doubt there are details I’m missing, some internal family struggles between Mom and Dad (now divorced, with Dad apparently profiting from the book’s publication), sectarian battles being fought over “extra-canonical” Heavenly tourist tales, and who gets paid for such. Those banal human evils don’t figure into this as a case study in lying for the Lord.
So, what can we expect to happen now, should someone else come out and say, “Hey I really went to Heaven, and it looks like…”? Well, we won’t say anything to that person, probably. But if our friend tells us about his tale, he might well laugh, and say, “Man, didn’t you hear about Malarkey?” What about all those parents who read Malarkey’s book to their children, hoping to convince them that Heaven is “for real”? I can hear the laughter from the school playgrounds already.
caption: “So, are you telling me the truth?”
Truth and Lies
Shame on you for believing, right? But there’s more: Not only does his lie and confession of lying make the tales of others more likely to be doubted, both previous and subsequent tales. It also makes people question the existence of God, Heaven, Life after Death, and so on.
A question, then: Should Mom Malarkey have come out on her blog and vaguely notified someone reading it that maybe the story wasn’t all true? The nature of evil, in this case, representing something that didn’t happen as if it did happen, can be seen not in the “false belief” engendered by the story, but in the greater evil that comes of the truth being told about the story. Suddenly, telling the truth (in some fashion, apparently) adds huge power to the original lie. How can its evil be stopped, thereafter? Not with the truth, apparently. Maybe truth and lies are not opposites, like fire and water? Truth seems more closely connected with Power: to create, to endure, to grow. Can Truth be used in a corrupting fashion? Apparently.
Consider some comments on Mom Malarkey’s blog, which does not, however, very clearly say her son was telling a lie in the book.
I was about to read this book but decided to look at the reviews and background information before I started. I would like to start by saying, I am so sorry for your and your families hardships. I can’t even imagine going through such a trial. My purpose in commenting is just of pure curiosity …if the book was filled with such inaccuracies and lies then why not set the record straight with what truly happened? I am of LDS faith and so I am not using others NDE as a rock in which to build my faith but I am genuinely confused about what you and Alex consider inaccuracies within the book and what actually did happen. I did read that you don’t intend to write a book to right the wrongs of the previous book but it might be helpful to write a blog post explaining what really did happen. I’m not interested in the glamour of what lies beyond because I believe I have a testimony of what lies beyond the veil and the true story of what happened to Alex would be more helpful then hurtful to those who have read or are contemplating reading the book.
I am glad that I borrowed the book and didn’t pay for it. I read “the” book in one day. After finishing it, I did a Google search to see how Alex was doing today. To my disappointment I found your link within the top three.
I was ticked off to say the least, mostly because I had been had. Fooled.
I am not going through anything traumatic. I am not looking for a blessing. I am though like many people searching for, Jesus.
NDE’s have always intrigued me, and have made Jesus seem to be more tangible. Stories like these are always thought provoking, but I never take them as Gospel.
After reading your blog I wonder why you don’t sue the writer and publisher, especially as it seems that legal documents were never passed between publisher and Alex.Also, if the book is stated as being true, but Alex never had the experiences that are written, then wouldn’t this be defamation, especially where it is against your religious beliefs.
There are many questions on both sides. But only God can and will judge.
I pray for you, Alex and your family for joy and peace.
My sister died in 1970 when I was seven. One sad night shortly thereafter,I made up a story that I felt her touch my hand when I was in my mother’s bed. My mother whole heartedly believed my lie, and shared it with family, friends and clergy. I was mortified! When I came clean a few years later it was nearly impossible to convince her that I had made it up. Just recently she referred to my “experience” again! I couldn’t believe I had to convince that it did not happen all over again. No wonder people are able to profit from deception. The living God has spoken. Believe Him! 2 Tim. 2:15, 2 Tim 3:16,17
Fixing, or Retelling A Story?
How does one “fix” or undo an evil like this? How do you redeem (re-doom, re-declare, re-sentence) one from the Fall? Not by telling the truth about lying, as in a confession, “Oh, yeah, I totally lied about X, but believe me now…” Certainly not by telling folks to go read their bibles, cuz its fulla truth. You lied about God, sure, but I’ll totally believe you when you say to go read this other book about God. No way did they lie back then.
So, it seems that Lies and Truth are not in the same category of things, one cannot fix the other, like antacid might relieve heartburn. How does Malarkey fix this lie? I can only see it will take lifetimes of effort to undo the evil of telling lies about God: meeting Him, having lunch with Him, delivering messages for Him. Don’t do such things, unless you’d like your hereafter pretty well booked up for nigh unto Eternity.
The same can be said for vague insinuations of having met God, or talked with Him, and so on, as I’ve talked about before on this blog .
What all these lies and quasi-lies tell us, is that we don’t know very much about the being we call God. As a result, we are apt to be deceived. Not “likely to be deceived,” but “apt,” as in, “appropriate or suitable to the circumstances.” Moreover, we cannot know about God (the being referred to by that word) by hearing other people use that word. We can make statements about knowledge, and the ways to gain such, but it’s a gamble to believe another person’s claims about God. When you make the gamble, the test of their truth comes in living according to those beliefs. Or so we are told.
Well, what if someone says, “Believe in God, go to this building five times a week, give that guy your money, and don’t eat food on Thursdays, and he’ll bless you.” And, being no fool, you ask, “What do you mean, ‘bless’?” And he says, “You’ll make $100k a year until you die.” Even if such a thing happens, that doesn’t mean the story the Someone told you is true. If I was a Liar from the Beginning, I would go around giving folks definitions of blessings concerned with things I could provide, in some manner; or encourage them to speak vaguely about things I could not provide.
I would also tell them about the “Real Jesus,” by pointing out their belief in the “Fake Jesus.” Strangely, you can actually get results by searching for “Fake Jesus.” I don’t even know what that phrase means.
Why does Fake Jesus look like he’s being scolded, and Real Jesus look like a mug shot?
How can we know the Truth? A feeling somehow “given” in response to an inquiry? We’d have to come up with something no person could provide, or fake, nor anything imitated or otherwise provided by Liars in any order of being. Probably that Something is not a something we can Get, Earn, or otherwise Bring About (see the post on Cargo Cults, for more). Yet, if we came up with it, clearly we have some notion of it; meaning, scratch that thing you came up as a sign of the truth from God. In other words, the “truth” is not something we can “know” in the sense you can know where France is on a map, or know your friend’s phone number.
We have a definition of Truth, as knowledge of things as they were, are, and shall be. Odd, isn’t it, that “knowledge” is included in the definition of Truth? Wouldn’t that mean that to speak of “knowledge of the truth” would be like saying, “knowledge of the knowledge of”? Nonsense, it seems. We then would need to introduce other signs of verification (feelings, authoritative voices, and so on) which themselves require verifications and authorizations, ad infinitum. No wonder folks despair, given this model of Truth. And that infinite hierarchy of super awesome powerful beings.
Truth as Something Else
We are asked to believe in God, that he is a God of Miracles, and to hope, and to be longsuffering, patient, and so on. To send rain on the just and unjust, to bless those that curse us, and many other actions which would identify us as the Children of God. Notice that in these admonitions from the Book of Mormon and from D&C, we are not told to expect any payment in return for our good deeds. Maybe we don’t “earn” our way to that, no matter how much rain we send, but we learn about God by acting as His children? Fairly obvious, but there’s something about Truth that remains to be said.
The Truth is not referred to in our words. It is or is not __ our words, just as it is or is not __ our imaginations, is or is not __ the world. If you want to add “In” in the blank, or some other preposition, to make those sentences more understandable, go ahead, but know that you have added something I did not.
Now, given all that I’ve warned about people claiming such and such about God, let me add this:
What I Believe
It is somewhat artificial to even say, “I believe such and such,” but that artifice is not avoided by replacing “believe” with “know.” I’d say we make things worse by using verbs that ordinarily we wouldn’t use, without feeling like we were sort of lying a bit. Rather than list some set of “beliefs,” instead I will write some words that relative to my experience, are true. That “are” means, “in the sense of being,” as in, “You are happy.” Happy is not some quality separate from you that “fills” you up, but is you, for some time. Not only some part of you, say, your left leg, either, but You.
The being we call Jesus is the Eternal Father, who condescends to “be” a god, or a “man” or a “spirit” or whatever. He is creating with these other beings he condescends to become, and among the greatest and wisest and goodest of these beings long ago of the order of Gods was Michael, otherwise called by Mormons, Adam. When Jesus speaks of the Father, he is speaking of Michael-Adam.
Michael and his consort had “spirit children” and also at some point, created also something like “man” children. Other “men” were brought to this world by Jesus. Conflict between these children has ruined the House, and Michael refuses to take up his abode with his children, permanently, until they are united and restored to knowledge. Knowledge about what? Not the right question, probably.
Michael is a man. Not a God who once was a Man, briefly; or who just looks mannish; but a Man who sits enthroned in yonder heavens. A man, different in apparently important ways, but not different in any way that would make him not-a-man but of some other order of being. Our destiny is not to “become Gods,” but to become just men made perfect, complete, united spirit and flesh; and this is the “goal” (without putting it too crudely) of even the Gods (good ones, anyway). Being a God is dangerous, as shown by one called Lucifer. Becoming man is less so, for we won’t likely labor under the delusion that we are “Like Unto” Jesus. He became a man, not merely like unto one, and was resurrected as a man (not a God). Gods don’t die, and can’t be resurrected. But here they can be born, and their children (existing here as “spirits”) can be born again. Have ye been spiritually reborn? Maybe that isn’t a question we can ask to just anyone, but is asked of a group of beings who had once been born as “spiritual children” in this world.
Men are spirits pretending to be human. As spirits, we were not created, but did enter this world “In the Beginning.” We won’t have an end, either. We can be born, and born again in some other order of being. At some point, however, we will be satisfied with ourselves, and will no more die, nor be born again, and yet we will remain mankind. Then the House is restored, and all are alike, but not the same.
Well, Let Me Take A Position On What You’ve Written!
Have I told a lie? Not at all. That word does not apply, in standard usage, to the above sentences. I don’t “know” otherwise, nor do I claim to “know” the above is “true.”
Truth? Don’t decide on any basis other than the words’ meaning. What evidence can I muster? An absurd question, maybe, treating the above paragraph as if it was a position I maintain in a debate on, say, whether triangles have three sides or not. How could I demonstrate the logic of my reasoning, and the validity of my conclusion? I’ve not made a conclusion. I told a story. The peace it gives means, I suppose, I have no ambition to compel others to believe it. Even writing it up now, on this blog, takes effort (and so, errors may enter, or sin, as well); whereas the story has being in me, without compulsion.
And not by my authority, should you decide or believe or whatever; nor by the arrangement of the sentences, nor the big words I use, or my degree, or anything else not in the words’ meaning. Not because God told me so (he didn’t). I won’t even allow you to assume an angel visited me and told me this. That didn’t happen, as far as I know. I didn’t half-die, and go on a heavenly tour.
It either is, or is not Truth. And you don’t have to decide, for reality is what it is, regardless of what anyone thinks about it. But maybe soon I’ll give my reading of Moses and Abraham, and prove it to you. Just kidding.