Inconvenient Truth

Near the start of The Shawshank Redemption Andy Dufresne is on the witness stand, losing a battle for his life he will ultimately win. The district attorney calls “inconvenient” the inability to find the gun used in the crime. Andy has used the gun to make a hole in the river, though not to make holes in his estranged wife, and the golf pro banging her into the wall. 

“Because I am innocent of this crime,” Dufresne replies. “I find it decidedly inconvenient.”

It is the truth.

And that’s all.

By which I mean the gun, it’s use or non-use, it’s location and locatability, and, most crucially for our perceived “prove it to me” approach to life, whether we receive (accept) any of that information, is irrelevant to what is. Andy knows he’s innocent. He will be perceived guilty for the next two decades.

But the truth will out.

So take faith.

Faith is faith in Christ and the faith of Christ, as we come to understand. Faith seeks understanding, and what is sought is found. And it is what it is, as the kids say.

Admittedly, there’s always work to be done, and always more work to be done.

Andy Dufresne, for example, must tunnel through rock, and walk through a quarter mile of sewer — a river of shit, Red calls it. The faithful must do similar work, in ways appropriate to it.

The faith of Christ is rarely convenient.

If ever: it tells us to stay when we want to go, to love when we want to stew, to shut up when we want to speak.

It tells us to forgive when we want to gnaw the marrow of resentment.

[Buechner says we’re eating ourselves, but golly we enjoy that meal.]

And the faith of Christ is the best way of the best man who’s ever lived.

One of CSL’s better known lines — stiff competition, that — has to do with believing in Christianity not so much because of what he sees in it but because of what he sees by what he sees.

And Chesterton who came before says the more one becomes convinced of something the less one is able to explain it. Like loving one’s wife, it is. It simply … is. How could one not see it?

Each of these lines — Lewis, Chesterton, and Andy Dufresne (by way of Stephen King and Frank Darabont) — works by way of indirection, which is crucial in communicating truth. For that matter, add Emily Dickinson: Tell it slant, she says. Not because it’s practical or impractical, effective or proactive — or even rebarbative, to some.

Do it because that’s the way it’s done.

Continue in it, whether anyone sees or not.

The power in Dufresne’s response to the DA is that if he’s guilty, the prosecutor is right — how convenient the gun can’t be found. But he’s innocent. And because that’s the truth, it is inconvenient, and for nearly 20 years.

But Dufresne continues to live in that truth and of the faith of it. The tunnel is his monument to that truth, the boat he begins to build his reminder, to himself, but (since he’s had 19 years to learn it) most of all to us.

Do it because that’s the way it’s done.

Continue in it, whether anyone sees or not.

That’s how the truth will out, as it always does.

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