David Naugle’s new book, Reordered Love, Reordered Lives: Learning the Deep Meaning of Happiness,
probes into the deep senses of happiness — a yearning in each person and yet something found by many to be elusive.
I like that Naugle ties together Shalom — peace — and Agape — love. Genuine happiness is not simply an internal emotional state, or a psychological condition, but a person in connection with God, with self, and with others — in this world. I’m not progressing quickly through this book but it’s because his insights and observations slow us down. I hope you find your way to this book. At one of my sessions last weekend in Canada I noticed a young man was reading Naugle’s book. I almost said something.
Where do you see love connected to “things” or to “solitude” or to radical independence, freedom from or individualism?
Happiness, that young man was learning, is connected to both Shalom (peace) and Love.
Naugle makes both of these points in rapid succession: “Shalom is human flourishing with God the Creator and Redeemer at the center of our embodied existence, living heartily as complete persons of soul and body in right relationship to God’s good creation and its blessings.” This isn’t enough for me, but his point is to make it clear that happiness is an embodied existence. In fact, he says Christianity is a “holy materialism.”
But he presses deeper and connects Shalom to Agape: “The happy life, then, consists of learning how to love both God supremely and the world in the right way at the very same time.”
And now he beautifully ties together the embodied point above to the relation with God: “In Christianity, the happy life is a sacramental life, in which we see and love God supremely in relationship to all things, and in which we see and love all things properly in relationship to God, whom we love the most.”
“This grand union of God, ourselves, and the whole cosmos in a sacred synthesis of rightly ordered love constitutes the deep meaning of happiness” (23).
In other words, and so much in contrast to both the Me Generation and Generation Me, genuine happiness — the so-called pursuit of both generations — cannot be had until one turns away from self-importance to love others and, in loving others and God, to find ourselves as God made us to be — designed to and for love.