Andy Crouch, Mick Jagger, & C.S. Lewis
I’ve had a hard time not taking personally Bill’s musings on Andy Crouch these past three weeks. Yes, the generation of which I am a member – Boomers – is the generation that elevated instant gratification to the chief place of honor on the list of Inalienable Rights. But give us some credit: we also realized how elusive it can be, as evidenced by the unofficial anthem of our Pursuit of Happiness: "I can’t get no satisfaction. I can’t get no satisfaction. ‘Cause I try and I try and I try and I try. I can’t get no. I can’t get no."
Perhaps Mick Jagger and Andy Crouch have something in common?
What my generation couldn’t quite grasp, however, was why, despite our wholehearted pursuit of it, satisfaction was so hard to come by. Back in 1941 before there were any Boomers, C.S. Lewis anticipated our dilemma in his sermon The Weight of Glory:
“If you asked twenty good men today what they thought the highest of the virtues, nineteen of then would reply, Unselfishness. But if you had asked almost any of the great Christians of old, he would have replied, Love. You see what has happened? A negative term has been substituted for a positive, and this is of more than philological importance. The negative idea of Unselfishness carries with it the suggestion not primarily of securing good things for others, but of going without them ourselves, as if our abstinence and not their happiness was the important point. I do not think this is the Christian virtue of Love. The New Testament has lots to say about self-denial, but not about self –denial as an end in itself. We are told to deny ourselves and to take up our crosses in order that we may follow Christ; and to nearly every description of what we shall ultimately find if we do so contains an appeal to desire. 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 around 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.”
Our problem? Not so much when we want our satisfaction as what we are willing to be satisfied with: porn instead of a real wife, entertainment instead of meaning, wealth instead of the weight of glory. The paradoxical truth of the matter is that the most satisfying things are worth working for, waiting for, even according to the Scriptures, worth suffering for.
“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” II Cor. 4:16-18