Saturday, July 22, 2006

More thoughts on possessions

Mostly related to a previous post

I'm rereading "Into the Wild." Despite what anyone thinks about the main lesson of the story, the point Krakauer weaves into it is that search for "the wild" is in reality a search for meaning, whatever that means. And in that search, particularly in the wilderness, in the natural world, away from plastic and its discontents, people find that things, that even self is not the point. In the wilderness, Chris McCandless found something beyond himself, something grand and glorious he could only see because he gave up everything: his money, his possessions, his security. Though the particulars are different, this is what Jesus was getting at saying "who ever wishes to save his life must lose it." Or what Dorothy Sayers was getting at when she said "When we are asked "what do you value more than life?" the answer can only be "Life--the right kind of life, the creative and god-like life." And life, of any kind, can be had only if we are ready to lose life altogether--a plain observation of fact that we acknowledge every time a child is born, or, indeed, whenever we plunge into a stream of traffic in the hope of attaining a more desireable life on the other side."

What is fascinating about this example is that Chris never got enough of the wilderness. He was always seeking a more extreme adventure, to see more of "the wild" because he felt the answer was out there. And the wilderness killed him.

I feel my life, and that of most people I know, is lacking in that kind of ecstatic desperation, that drive not to "carpe diem" but more to "redeem the time, because the days are evil." We drug ourselves, buying soma with every new toy, to take our minds off the subconscious realization that we're missing the point.

It sounds like a Sunday School truism worthy of satire to say "faith is the answer." It may be, but phrasing it like that misses the point. Jesus is not the quaint, smiling picture on the cover of the "New Friends Bible." And neither is faith summarized in a prepackaged three point pep talk complete with soundtrack and a PurposeDriven(c) stamp on it. Frankly, that's just more things, which we already have too many of.


Zwerver said...

Faith is the answer in some ways and exactly not the answer in others. Perhaps it depends on the faith. Faith that's about "I'm so religious" is faith that gets stuck at the door to a truly glorious place and yet never manages to get inside. But the faith that you're talking about is the real deal (what a trite expression), the kind of faith that matters, that changes life. I too am guilty of just buying new things rather than really dealing with the true spiritual condition. On the other hand, shiny new toys are available at Target for $19.95, and a knock-you-to-your-knees faithlife is much more difficult to obtain (or at least has been for me).

thebeloved said...

For Christ came that we may have life and have it to the full...