--- stories most obviously --
centers on some conflict, rupture, or lack.
Literature is birthed
from our fallenness:
without the fall, there would be no story."
Karen Swallow Prior
oof and ain't that the truth; just peruse anyone's diary, right?
[For a perfect example, simply go back to the beginning of this day in the life of an American girl...975 blogs chiefly centered upon our fallenness as a nation, as a people, as a culture....as a neighbor, co-worker, or friend...the list goes on and on.]
Prior immediately quotes a Jacques Ellul, from his discovery illuminated in The Humiliation of the Word, adding, "Only desire speaks...Satisfaction is silence."
The Humiliation of the Word: "Jacques Ellul for the first time intertwines sociological analysis with theological discussion in this provocative examination of how reality (which is visual) has superseded truth (which is verbal) in modern times. / After delineating in basic terms the distinction between truth and reality, the verbal and visual, Ellul explores the biblical-theological basis for this distinction. He examines the biblical emphasis on the word (both the divine Word and human words which witness to the divine truth) and the biblical critique of idolatry (which is, of course, visual). He goes on to delineate the ways in which the visual dominates modern life and to examine the correlate of this exaltation — the devaluation of the word..." See more at Amazon
In elementary terms, I guess this might explain what is going on in our world today...true satisfaction, an enigma in modern day life, gives way to the constant call of our wants, our needs, our ambitions, our desires to have more of something, whatever that may be.
This is bringing to mind something that caught my attention for all of thirty minutes, last Sunday; an episode of Andy Stanley, How to Get What You Really Want, beginning with posing a basic question, just this: what do you want?
Appealing to the narcissist inside, we always want to do what we want to do...and for the most part, we are all guilty of this to some degree (of course, some days are better than others). But sometimes, as Andy points out, when we get what it is we think we truly want, it turns out to be a disappointment; it turns out to be something different and nothing like what we thought; and sometimes what we want today, prevents us from securely planning for the proverbial tomorrow.
Andy says that most of us don't get what we really, really want, because we have not seriously pondered the answer, or even spent the time and careful consideration simply wondering how we get to that answer. And promptly points us in the direction of the Bible, Book of James, for the proper insight: "...You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives." (James 4:2-3)
Our wants tend to be only what we think we want, on the surface, in the visual realm.
BUT -- listen to this --- "Lurking in the shadows, just outside your peripheral vision, of what we want, is what we value... what is important, what is really, really important," according to Andy, with the help of James, brother of Jesus...
If we don't get to what we truly value -- in our hearts and minds and in our prayers -- we will never get what we truly want (also known as, that which God wants FOR US the most).
What do we value? How do we discover it? How do we keep it safe and sound?
All of this ties very nicely into the new book I'm reading, On Reading Well, alongside it's companion for today, The Humiliation of the Word. This blending of reading more of the virtuous, and less of the less-than, seems to begin with an obvious place to start: with reading more of The Bible.
"Visions of the good life
presented in the world's best literature
can be agents for cultivating
knowledge of and desire for the good and,
unlike visions sustained
by sentimentality or self-deception,
Just another sound point;
still reading, and re-reading,
from the Introduction, On Reading Well.
Prior adds, "So while reading for virtue means, in part, reading about virtue, in a deeper, less obvious way reading literature well is a way to practice virtue."
Isn't this really what God wants for us most days, to practice our faith....to put in practice our greater, good-er side....to pay more attention to the things we truly value and multiply the wealth of living a virtuous life by however many number of occupants there are on earth?
And maybe it's because I am fresh off the viewing of the movie, ROMA, that my emotions are more raw, or perhaps even melancholy, than my natural vibrancy. But I tell you this: life, itself, is valuable; it's not to be missed. "Nothing is worth more than this day," right?
Time, is so freaking valuable; especially when we weigh past times -- of histories and legacies and societies and ages of long ago -- against the present day. And with that -- it just so happens to be the crib notes version of precisely how our founders laid America's foundation; thereby, masterminding a republic like no other.
America's Constitution, our Declaration of Independence -- more good reading material -- speak to a long list of invaluable virtues to know and love: from prudence to justice, from courage to temperance, from diligence to humility. In order to create a more perfect union, we, the people, are REQUIRED to pay attention to what we value, and not only that -- secure it! promoting the proper education, moral duty, and virtuous character of each new generation.
The thing is, how do we continue to do that, if our focus is virtually consumed day in and day out by the proliferation of immediate gratification, selfish pleasures, a certain self-centeredness and vanity, and for all intents and purposes, glorifying the visual, temporal, immoral, and fallenness -- in other words, preoccupied with the less than virtuous reading all the live long day -- rather than upon the things, the literature, the wisdom, the Word, that will actually truly satisfy our human nature like nothing else on earth? How? So true the humiliation of the Word...
Of course, of the fallenness, it surely gives us a whole lot of material to write about -- there is that. It's a glorious day to read good things, and nothing else, isn't it?
There is such great power in societies, large and small; and yet, challenging all civilizations at the birth of each new generation, is the capacity to hold to what is true, what is of value, providing, ultimately, a life fulfilled and satisfied for all to come. It is surely a pursuit of happiness worth every breath, if we recognize that which is truly important -- seen and unseen -- and nothing else.
That is my wish for today.
Make it a Good Day, G