Flash Epistle Number Sixteen


In the beginning was The Church, the Roman Catholic Church. It controlled The News, specifically the Good News of the Gospels. The news necessary for salvation. It held a monopoly on the interpretation and dissemination of that news that gave it nearly complete domination over men’s minds. Literacy was the province of priests. Books were hand copied and few. The News was whatever The Church said it was.

Then, in the 15th and 16th centuries, two utterly revolutionary events occurred: the invention of the printing press and the rise of Protestantism.

Protestantism demanded a personal understanding of scripture, which brought about a huge increase in literacy. The printing press made cheap Bibles, and then other books, available to that new reading public. It allowed the dissemination of any version of the news that anyone dared to print.

The news became anything that could be concocted and printed. Now there was no News, but many variations of it. Instead of one Church there were many churches. Instead of one Truth there were many competing truths. The imaginations of Europe woke up and began asserting themselves.

The Church fought back and many years of wars, bloodshed, and Inquisition followed. But the genie could not be forced back into the bottle.

And yet here we are in 2018, pretending that Fake News is some terrible new phenomenon. It’s not. It has been around for nearly 500 years. All news is fake news, information from a particular perspective, filtered through human minds, accepted or not as an audience chooses. True objectivity is an illusion, beyond the mind’s ability. It always has been.

Why not just admit this? A New York liberal’s news and a West Virginia deplorable’s news are equally true to both of them. Only empathy and tolerance can bridge the gap, not shouting and name calling. That is, if it’s possible to bridge the gap at all at this point. We had better hope it is. If it’s not, something unique about America is over forever.

If you demand certainty, The Truth, then die. Death is the only certainty. That’s a hard truth. News few can accept.

Or learn to live with what you can’t love. Make room for what you can’t accept. Find a working accommodation. Go on living. No one will enjoy the alternative.

Honorary Schizophrenic. Recent refugee. Displaced person. Old white male. Confidant of cassowaries.

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