Friday, September 01, 2006

Ponder this...

"All men seek happiness. This is without exception. Whatever different means they employ, they all tend to this end. The cause of some going to war, and others avoiding it, it is the same desire in both, attended with different views. The will never takes the least step but to this object. This is the motive of every action of every man, even of those who hang themselves."

Blaise Pascal

"The chief end of man is to glorify God by enjoying Him forever."

John Piper
Source: Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist


Anonymous said...

I'm diggin' this blog! You're cute without the layers! Or with them!

Anonymous said...

p.s. ponder that!

Della said...

As a society, we have lost the art of friendship, intimacy, connecting with others. Friendship is a sacred trust; it is a covenant based relationship. Not too many in the Bible were called "friends of God."

It is unreasonable to think we can enjoy God, who is our creator, redeemer, and the lover of our souls, if we cannot enjoy one another.

Most people are lovers of selves; unable to enjoy others or God. Jesus told us to love our neighbors as ourselves, which meant it is a natural thing to love oneself, but it takes effort to love one's neighbor as oneself. I do agree that all men seek happiness, but very few find it. That is because happiness is like "real" in The Velveteen Rabbit. We become ... when we love.

Sarah Onderdonk said...

anon... you obviously missed the 1987-89 "pixie" years. there are a few out there who could comment on it... but i'd prefer they not!

Sarah Onderdonk said...

Della... you knocked me over with the Velveteen Rabbit... "we become... when we love." that really sinks deep.

larry crabb wrote a book called "Inside Out." in it, he talks about the sin of "self protection." yes, the SIN of self protection. it's when we build a fortress around our hearts and refuse to let others in for fear of being hurt. if i'm brutually honest, i must admit that this can be a "default" position for me... but something i know needs to change.

maybe there's a blog on the subject of intimacy in friendship, do you think?

Matt Montgomery said...

I must disagree with Pascal. As much as I loved him in my mathematics training, his theology, illustrated by this statement, smacks of determinism. His worldview insulates God's creation from the chaos of complexity and randomness by understanding each action in the universe as series of events in a predetermined cosmic blueprint. To boil the core motives of every action of every human down to a desire to gain happiness is overly simplistic and seems presumptuous. The motivations and actions of individuals would appear to me to be too complex and unpredictable to capture in a single statement of purpose.

Sarah Onderdonk said...

Matt... can it be boiled down to an innate hunger for a closer relationship with God?

Matt Montgomery said...

A God-shaped hole in the heart of every human might make for a good song but I believe the answer (predictably so) is more complex. To be sure there is desire for relationship within the bounds of normal human behavior. One might view this as shades of the original desire of God for relationship with man. I tend to see more complexity in the human response to God so I back away from claims of universals like this.

Sarah Onderdonk said...

Abraham Maslow, an atheist and pioneer of humanistic psychology, gave us a "hierarchy of human needs" model that he believed summed up the drivers of human motivation. While his model has been challenged and tweaked over the years, it remains something of a standard in secular pscyhology.

according to maslow, after basic survival, safety, security, love and ego needs are met, people could work toward a state of "transcendence" that takes us beyond the self into a higher realm of "peak experience." it's here, he suggested, that we would find our most complete state of contentment.

while this is a secular model put forth by an atheist, it's interesting to note that even here, there is this recognition that there is something beyond "self" that is necessary to achieve happiness.

with the Christian faith, we have essentially inverted maslow's pyramid... rather than seeing our lives as "toiling and striving" to get past certain human needs to some alter-ego state... we have our faith in Christ to sustain us. and the peace that comes with the trust that in Him, our most important needs are already met.

so, Matt, it could be that we can't put this subject in a box and throw a bow on it. still, i find the idea that we all "long for God" an attractive theory. is it so? well, i guess only God knows...

Guy said...

Reading through the posts it occurs to me that Pascal was intending to "over simplify." While he chose "happiness" I might have chosen "self" as in "All men seek 'self'." Same concept but different word. I think that is even biblical...inspired you might say.

I tend to agree with Sarah's observation that we all have a "God-sized hole" in our heart that only He can fill. Why? Because He designed it so which I think is also biblical. ST101 labeled it general revelation (Romans 2:14-15).

Sarah Onderdonk said...

Guy... i had to stop and think on that one (echoes of you and me and our 180-degree brain wave issues:).

my first reaction was, what does "general revelation" (how God reveals Himself in nature) have to do with this? i've understood general revelation up until now from an apologetic standpoint ("Someone other than me put that sun in the sky, so there must be a God.") and an aesthetic one ("WOW! Look at that beautiful sunset!)

But you've gone somewhere else with it, haven't you. Are you suggesting that general revelation could be a root cause for a longing for God (thus affecting our happiness)?

Very interesting!

So, in the case of an atheist, would you think that they could also be influenced by general revelation... and perhaps possess the same longings... without the ability or willingness to attribute it to God?

Thanks for the post! Pretty deep stuff.

Guy said...


Indeed I am saying just that! Nature is but one of the categories of general revelation. History, providence and, in my initial post, "conscience" would be included in the category of general revelation. I believe (i.e., my theology), and I would assert that Scripture supports, that all of mankind, being created in the image of God, has a designed hunger, a deep longing, that can only be filled by He that created us. Why? Because, He is relational (see ST102 readings - my mind blurs as to which one at the moment). Thus, as we attempt to reconcile that longing, we put different "things" in the hole created "by" God "for" God. The problem is that only He will fit (like a puzzle piece) in that spot. I have tried everything in that spot designed for Him. Money, position, power, sensuality, etc. Nothing fit. While it may have been momentarily pleasurable, it left me unhappy, unfulfilled. Why? Because it was "self" motivated. I have been both poor and rich, and unhappy in both because He wasn't there. Now that He is, I see joy and happiness in the oddest places, including in the tears of my grandfather who lost my grandmother. PRAISE BE TO HIM FROM WHOM ALL BLESSING AND JOY FLOW. FOREVER AMEN.

Thus, when Pascal says all men seek "happines," I nod in convicting agreement. I sought it. But I found it only in Him. I don't call it or recognize it as "seeking happiness," I know it as seeking "self."

Sarah, there are few that will allow me to ramble on to hopefuly arrive at some obscure point and then invest the effort to slog throuh the weeds to find it. While I may sound as though I am preaching, I am really slogging through those same weeds along side you, to find myself, alone and in need of Him.

Blessing to you.

Sarah Onderdonk said...

Guy... wonderful post! you can "preach" here anytime. beyond what we see and process externally, there is, as you point out, an internal "conscience" dimension to general revelation (Romans 2: 14-16) that suggests to us that God has left an imprint on our hearts. would be interesting to know what has been done in the way of studies of primitive populations and how they might express feelings of contentment or happiness. is there a universal sense of longing for God? any anthropologists out there?

and are the most mature Christians the "happiest?" or as you grow closer to God do you have more despair for the world?

lots of questions...

Guy, thanks for your presence here. What you said at the end was very profound. It's quite a journey, isn't it.

I hope your grandfather is doing well. My prayers are with your family.