Strange Denouement to a Prayer Request

A reader writes:

Thanks for sharing my prayer request last week. I emailed you about my friend who suffered an injury that led to memory problems. Well, I have an update, but first, here’s more of the story. My friend was a member of a Catholic facebook group. In this group, we’d crack jokes, engage in semi-organized apologetics, and generally have a great time. I’d known him for months before the accident.
Or I thought I did anyway. We’ve recently found out that this person was a fake profile…an elaborate lie. There is no injury, no memory loss, no friend.
I don’t know who this person is; I can’t call him my friend anymore, but he probably needs more prayers for this than he would for the fictional injury. I also wanted you to know the truth, and to thank you for your prayers, even if they were for a lie.

I wonder if the guy had decided my reader and his trusting friends “had no right to the truth” and therefore concluded that he was not really lying. Or maybe he decided that he was “acting” and therefore not lying. Or perhaps he reasoned that he was somehow going to achieve something for the Greater Good (Catholic apologetics! The glory of God!) by his noble lies. Hard to say, since he was lying.

Father, help this man learn how to live in and speak truth and to repent his lies. And help the people he lied to recover their capacity to trust. Help them forgive him his betrayal of that trust. Mother Mary, pray for all concerned. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

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  • Martha O’Keeffe

    Mark, sometimes things like this happen online. I know it most of all from fandom blogs and websites, because back about ten years ago, I encountered something similar.

    A teenage girl, member of a “Lord of the Rings” fansite I was also involved in, began asking about what she should do about bullying in school. The more help, advice and sympathy she got, the more detailed the accounts of the bullying became, and the more serious the events recounted became.
    Turns out it was all lies. She broke down and confessed that it wasn’t true. Half of us wanted to kick her out, half of us said forgive her. Eventually we agreed that this was a bad abuse of our trust, but if she was sincerely sorry, we’d let her stay. It was all about getting attention and sympathy, and it snowballed for her.
    So maybe this ‘fake friend’ is the same – not setting out to make fools of the other people in the Facebook group, but just craving attention and making up attention-grabbing stories to get more sympathy and encouragement.
    Prayers are a good idea in any case 🙂

  • Funny how ideas converge. I just finished reading Arthur Phillip’s The Tragedy of Arthur (great great book) and when I wrote about it on my blog, I briefly mentioned the Catholic blogosphere debate on lying. One of the main characters is a conman, who’s committed all sorts of frauds, and he justifies it because he sees it as creation, like any other work of art. He conflates fiction and acting with lies and deception, and doesn’t see the crucial missing element where the audience of a fiction *knows* it is a fiction.

    I wonder, when I hear stories like this one, if the perpetrators get so caught up in the “story” they are inventing that they don’t pay any attention to the consequences, or to what they are actually doing.