The Counsel of Trent

writing is thinking

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

We Have No Right to Happiness (From a Conversation)

[Trent Dougherty, on the badness of the year] ...I
do >think
> that it's meaningful that good will come out of it.
> > I just see it as the utter redeemability of all
> things. There's nothing
> that can happen in your life that God can't turn
> around and bless you and
> others with. Is that still as bad?
No, again, it's just that I'm not even vaguely
convinced that things that happen to me are ever meant
to bless ME.

[Trent Dougherty] First, that gets the matter the other way round. Part of what I’ve been suggesting is that the thesis that
*The Question “What’s in it for me?” is—in the end— irrelevant.
And I was trying to discern whether at least your higher/inner self believes that. Second, you totally changed the issue by bringing intention into it with the term “meant.” My thesis that
(TPT) There's nothing> that can happen in your life that God can't turn> around and bless you and> others with.
doesn’t assume any specific purpose to the events of life at all. I said that whatever “happens” to you is something God can redeem and bless you. I think you’ve seen the thing Rog and I are doing in outdoor education. When I lead a trip, there is a very very general purpose: to foster a community of learners. But what happens to us is—let’s just assume—a matter of chance. Does it rain on us, snow on us, hail on us, does someone fall in a climb, does a canoe tip over, does someone go into anaphylaxis over a bee sting, does someone get bitten by a snake, is there an avalanche, a rockslide, equipment failure. A million things could happen that I don’t have any control over and which aren’t planned by me or—let’s assume—God. They are all “pointless” in and of themselves. We have thrown ourselves into this mess because we believe there is something ennobling in doing battle with chance, in forging on come what may. The one thing we are in control of is how we react. This is not stoicism at all, because we seek to change things, not merely accept them. In good Norse fashion we’re willing to go down on the right side fighting all the way. By the end of the journey, our struggles have made us who we are. It’s just a microcosm of life. The main difference being—it seems—that we didn’t choose it, God threw us in. [Perhaps we did choose it actually or perhaps all that matters is that—to use Douglas Adamsy grammar—it will be the case that we would have chosen it had we known. This world is a trial, a trek, a quest. Like Frodo, there may be no Shire’s rest for us in Midguard, no blessing for us. To borrow a phrase from a Lewis title, we have no right to happiness. Except that it is a blessing to, on, for us to suffer for others. This was Christ’s joys. Think of it. No feet were ever more capable of enjoying the feel of the earth under them; no eyes more able to appreciate the sun setting of the Mediterranean. We think often—though not often enough—of the passion of Christ, what he suffered, but we hardly ever think of the joys he had to forego. Perhaps that was the worst part His Mission. Think of what he and John and Peter could have done together. This is True Doctrine at work: the hypostatic union. Jesus was *fully* human. He gave up the chance to enjoy Himself like no other human being who has ever or will ever exist. He didn’t live for this life: “my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?...into thy hands I commit my spirit…It is finished.” If all our life is filled with self-sacrifice for the sake of others we will be fortunate enough to have lived a Christlike life, the greatest blessing of all. It’s not different than what Paul says about being conformed to the image of Christ in his suffering, “Consider it all joy…” All easier said than done, to be sure, but unless we are firmly committed to these guiding truths, we may fail in the quest. We are headed to the fire of Mount Doom: all plans after that are uncertain.

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