Truth Rises from a Dead Tree

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What is truth?

In this age of lies disguised as truth, this question is more important than ever. It is both simple and difficult. Even the heroic Captain Kirk struggled to answer it for his fans in a recent documentary about the life of actor William Shatner. Shatner has survived more than nine decades on this earth. He celebrated the dawn of his ninth with a rocket ride into outer space to orbit the earth, courtesy of billionaire Jeff Bezos. Upon returning to the earth’s surface, the emotional actor testified to a truth shaped by his decades informed by Hollywood’s science fictional version of it—that the truth is “out there.”

But people of faith are informed by a truth whose eternal spirit can only be found within. 

“You and I will fade into oblivion,” Shatner tells us toward the end of this documentary. “But if the human race disappeared tomorrow, the world would come back.”

Back to what? Truth? The secular version of truth will have died with Shatner’s vision of humanity. That’s the one ascribing truth to things that “represent reality.”

What is reality? Shatner sees it in a mighty redwood tree. When he dies, he says, his ashes will be buried underneath one so his death can nourish its life. Spoken like a true Pantheist. Although he doesn’t claim to be one, he sounds like someone who believes the earth and all things of it are divine.

But what if humans weren’t here anymore to define our beliefs, or any of earth’s things? It begs the age-old philosophical question, “If a tree falls in the forest but no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?”

Faith discounts the notion of “no One.”

The truth of Pentecost Sunday testifies to a spirit that exists beyond our science’s soundless vacuums. It proclaims two words: I AM! Jesus bequeathed that spirit to his disciples, who spoke it in ways people of every nationality could hear and understand:

“Are not all these people who are speaking Galileans?,” the hearers of those disciples asked themselves. “Then how does each of us hear them in his native language? … We hear them speaking in our own tongues of the mighty acts of God.” (Acts 2:1-11)

We are called to be God’s actors, not Hollywood’s. Godly actors are motivated by the Holy Spirit of a Truth that lives beyond words. As Paul tells us, truth is expressed in many ways, “for some benefit.”

There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; there are different forms of service but the same Lord; there are different workings but the same God who produces all of them in everyone. (1 Cor 12:3b-7, 12-13)

That spirit is an inheritance, distributed to beneficiaries through Our Father. Jesus represented himself as the way, the truth and the life—the bridge to Our Father’s Kingdom.

So, if a tree falls in that Kingdom, does it make a sound? When Jesus entered Jerusalem while following the road leading to his fate and to our destiny, people paved his way with palm fronds from the most royal of trees. This act presaged truth’s triumph over death, its promise of peace, and its proclamation of eternal life.  

Before being pressured into nailing the living truth to a dead tree, Pontius Pilate asked Jesus that loaded question: What is Truth? Jesus’s answer preceded that question:

“I came into the world to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” (John 18:37)

Listening to that voice requires hearing it. Be quiet. That voice is still and small, but mightily amplified by prayer.

–Tom Andel


  1. Belief in God begins with believing in his creation and that we are created in his image. Man was not created for the world, but the world was created for us.
    No one in the Kingdom of heaven is concerned in the least about some tree in the forest. We are the epitome of God’s creative genius and his entire plan for us revolves around our eternal destiny. So much so that he sent Christ his son to lead us to His kingdom, and the Holy Spirit to light the way out of self imposed darkness.

    Come Holy Spirit!

    • Jesus used the world as his classroom, where worldly things like fig trees, mustard seeds and mountains were useful teaching tools. If we’re fixated on the tools, we’re not seeing the big picture.

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