Finding the Lie


My mother was a quiet, pious, fundamentalist lady who loved to read her Bible and go to prayer meetings. She was kind and generous, and had a hug for everyone. Mom only had one annoying habit. She scolded the television.

We’d be watching a show — let’s say, “The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau” — and Jacques would say: “No one knows where zee giant squid leeves.” That’s when Mom would start up.

“God knows where the squid lives,” she would say, “God made the squid.”

When Carl Sagan explained during a “Nova” program that man is utterly alone in the universe, Mom gave the TV a brief but energetic homily from Romans 1.

“Mom, puh-leeze!” I complained. “Can’t we watch TV in peace?”

“Of all the crazy things for a scientist to say,” said Mom, ignoring me because she was so troubled by Carl’s deficient theology. “The heavens declare the glory of God, Psalm Eight. Poor man. We need to pray for him.”

Many years later, with two kids of my own, I am ten times worse than Mom. I critique and comment on everything that is counter to Catholic truth: whether it’s on the radio, in the newspaper, in an ad, or in the lyrics to a song. I don’t want to raise sponges who soak up the bad right along with the good, and who don’t know the difference. I want my children to grow up to be good culture cops, just like Grandma.

So, I invite my kids to comment. I challenge them to find the flaws in the statements, actions or attitudes of everything from NPR broadcasts, to old Star Trek videos, to magazine ads for Levi’s. My constant question is this: “Can you find the lie?” I hear some pretty good answers like:
“Fat people are ugly.”
“Immorality is normal.”
“Parents don’t understand their kids.”
“All religions are the same.”

Afterwards, we talk about it. That’s the best part. Finding the lies is a great stimulus to good family conversation.

Following Christ doesn’t mean turning our backs on our own culture. We lay people aren’t called out of the world, rather we’re called to live the love of Jesus Christ in the midst of society — at home, at work and at play. In order to be effective witnesses, we have to be able to sort out the good from the bad in our culture. We can’t be sponges. We have to be culture cops, critically examining the messages that daily bombard us, in order to reject the lies and walk in the light of truth. We also have to teach this crucial way of seeing to our kids.

Some friends of ours made a game out of developing this attitude in their two pre-teen daughters. The parents put two jars on top of the television set. One was empty, the other was filled with dimes. If either girl detected a false message during a program, or the accompanying commercials, she would yell, “That’s a lie!” and then explain in high speed what she meant; like this: “Sassing-your-parents-isn’t-funny-it’s-defiance-towards-authority.” She would then collect one dime for herself, and put one dime into the empty jar. When the second jar was filled, the family gave the money to the local crisis pregnancy center, and Dad refilled the first jar.

Those girls turned out to be tremendous critical thinkers. And everyone who visited that home, and wondered aloud about the partially-filled jars of dimes, got a thorough explanation of the game and its purpose.

Want to start a conversation about Christian family life? Get dimes.


Kristine L. Franklin “Find the Lie.” Envoy (March-April, 2003)

Reprinted with permission of Envoy magazine and Patrick Madrid. (To subscribe to Envoy: call 1-800-55-ENVOY)


Kristine Franklin was raised in a devout fundamentalist home where she learned to love Jesus, study the Bible, and share the Good News. She and her husband were Evangelical missionaries in Guatemala when they discovered that the complete Gospel message was only to be found in the Catholic Church. Since her conversion in 1995, Kristine has shared the story of her faith journey in print, on the radio, and on television. She is a co-host of the EWTN series, "Household of Faith."

Copyright © 2003 Envoy

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