The writing . . . honestly, I can’t remember. Happened a LONG time ago. But I do remember coming to a standstill when I came to the subject of lying and the question of whether it is ever all right to lie.
I honestly believe that fiction must present both sides of an argument in order to avoid being didactic. In the Bible God gave us stories of people who made wrong decisions as well as stories of people who chose right. So in painting Lara’s dilemma, I had to examine all sides of the ethical questions involved. It wasn’t easy.
In my research, I discovered the true story of the Lying Baptists and the Truthful Baptists—two groups which came out of an eighteenth century church which split over one question: if a man was being tortured by Indians who demanded to know where his family was hiding, ought he to tell the truth or lie? While I was writing The Truth Teller, I badgered my editor, friends, and family members with questions like, “If you were hiding Jews in your basement during the Holocaust and the Nazis appeared at your door to ask if you knew where any Jews were hiding, how would you answer?”
The Truth Teller is also about how the world perceives purity. If you knew someone who not only always told the truth but could also discern when others were lying, how comfortable would you feel in his presence? Some folks might try to worship such a gifted person; others would seek to destroy him. Politicians might well run from him, scientists would want to study him, psychiatrists would want to delve into his subconscious and discover which area of his brain had overdeveloped.
What if this person were your own beloved son—and only five years old?
I have always used lots of research books and articles as I write, but this book sent me scrambling to find contemporary experts—in medicine, in law, in parenting. The technology described is cutting-edge, and the story of the “iceman” found frozen in an Austrian glacier is absolutely true. The Truth Teller, like my other books, is rooted in fact.
If you’re wondering whether I’d lie to save my family or tell the truth and face God with a clear conscience—well, you’ll just have to read the book. If it works as fiction should, you’ll consider viewpoints you haven’t considered before, solidify your convictions, and confirm your faith.
Tomorrow: The editing