01 October 2008

Loneliness and Simple Living

Too much time has slipped past without a post. I've been spending more time on 'rithmetic lately than 'riting. I guess I could 'rite a post about the 'rithmetic, but that might bore you to the point where it would be better if I never posted. *sigh*

On the satire, I am going to take one stanza at a time and explain what I mean. You probably skimmed over it, said to yourself "Wha??" and went on with your life. Plus, I've been promising a discussion of simple living, so on with it already. Here's the first bit:

I am suffering:
I am lonely.
Someday I'll be happy,
When I marry I'm sure.

And happily ever after.

In each part, I address an issue that I am seriously dealing with. Here it is loneliness. It is easy for me to get real down about it, to the point where I think I am suffering. By calling it suffering, I've exaggerated it so far that it is obviously ridiculous. (Indeed, that's what makes it satire.) So I'm telling myself, "Loneliness? So what? Get over it." Others in the world have it far worse. It is sheer self-centered arrogance to wallow in the self pity of my loneliness.

Then, there is the world's promise of the loneliness cure: marriage. It is easy to believe. But I have this suspicion that it isn't true. I've been told by some with insider information that it isn't true. So I'm telling myself, "Yes, marriage is good. It will help the loneliness. But be prepared to get there and find out my spouse is not a savior." The lie is that marriage is "happily ever after" -- but I'm pretty sure that begins at death.

The title of that post was Suffering and Happiness. In it I described situations that aren't real suffering and proposed solutions that don't bring real happiness. One side of this is brought out by that oft-quoted creatively eloquent description by C.S. Lewis:

If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith. Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.

Yes, our desires are too weak. The other side of the issue is that when we don't have those temporal pleasures we tend to think we are suffering. So this, my friends, is why simple living is so important: To desire a simple life is to reject the lie that being without fleeting pleasures is suffering and instead embrace the truth that "if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content." To desire a simple life is to reject the lie that "drink and sex and ambition" and "stuff" bring real happiness and instead embrace the truth that in God's presence "there is fullness of joy; at [His] right hand are pleasures forevermore." Finally, to desire a simple life is seek pleasure in God to love Him with all of my being and doing, and to abandon selfishness to love my neighbor as myself.

The next part of the satire is next time, along with more of all this.

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