Wednesday, April 24, 2013

To be perfectly honest about To Be Perfectly Honest

Posted at Bene Diction Blogs on August 4 2012

Earlier today, I bought a used copy of the fairly new book To Be Perfectly Honest. On the way back to my office, I started to read.

You might see it in your local Christian bookstore. It's by the noted Western Canadian speaker and writer Phil Callaway, who recently took a vow to try to speak and act only truthfully for a year. This book is the result.

In the introduction, Mr. Callaway writes that he comes from a family of (perhaps rhetorical) horse traders and that while he would love to read a book by someone else who had made the I-will-be-honest-to-a-fault pledge for a year, he balked at making the pledge himself.

The end of the introduction--where I've stopped reading for now--has a note that made me go "Hmmm..."

It reads like this:

"This book is a work of fact. I have, however, taken two liberties. First, I engaged in minor chronological adjustments. Second, a handful of names and minor details were changed so that I may continue to live in peace and go out in public without incident in the small community I call home. I suppose a nomadic lifstyle would be ideal for an author. You could breeze into town, point out people's inconsistencies and hypocrisies, then hightail it out of there before they discover how inconsistent and hypocritical you are. The first draft of To Be Perfectly Honest contained all the actual names and places, and it was really quite fun. But I realized it's like a Wal-Mart greeter pointing people to Target. Not all that smart."

I don't want to be too hard on Mr. Callaway, but I found it deliciously ironic that four pages into his "I was honest for a year!" book, he has an "I have noticed the year is now over!" sort of note. :) Of course, as someone who at least used to write for a living, I totally understand the "Names have been changed to protect my behind!' sort of disclaimer. Would we have seen it in a Christian book on honesty 50 or 100 years ago?

There's lots of chew on. if you think about it. Can Christians make with-the-bark-off honesty work? Have Christians always had a "go along to get along" attitude, and should we be concerned about this? Are there valid reasons to "fudge"? Intriguing questions. Some editor at a publishing house should get an author to wrestle with the subject as the results would certainly be thought provoking.

As for me, I know myself well enough to not make the same sort of promise that Mr. Callaway did. Unless, of course, I made it easier on myself by also taking a contract--at the same time--to live among the Bedouins and teach sheep how to blog. [Typing sheep: "The flock has decided to beat up the human tonight as he just won't stop snoring..."]