Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed


Friday is for Friends

posted by Scot McKnight

Shalom.jpg 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.



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Diane

posted February 6, 2009 at 6:57 am


Happiness here sounds like the 17th century Quaker notion of “perfection:” that a person could be made perfectly right or whole with creation and God through a personal relationship Jesus Christ.
I read a study recently which said that service to others is now considered more important to longevity than exercising five times a week. I don’t think we should serve to live longer or that that would “work,” but it points to service as part of being alive.



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Dan Brennan

posted February 6, 2009 at 8:00 am


Scot,
I have read Naugle’s book. I too, appreciated the connection between happiness, shalom, and love.



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jazztheologian

posted February 6, 2009 at 10:47 am


Scot,
Looking forward to seeing you at NPC! Zondervan should be sending you my book on March 6.
Blessings,
robert



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Rebeccat

posted February 6, 2009 at 12:39 pm


I think I have mentioned that my new years resolution for 2009 was to do things that happy people do. So this is a discussion I am interested in. And yet, as much as I’d like for what Naugle says to be so, it seems to me that he is being wishful and overly simplistic here. I agree that unity with God and creation in love is central. However, true unity and properly ordered love is easier said and conceived than done.
It has been my experience and it has been documented over and over that the process towards that point is far from a happy one. Instead it is filled with pain and suffering worthy of hell or purgatory. I think it was Theresa of Avila who said to God in frustration: “if this is how you treat your friends, then it is no wonder that you have so few.” Likewise, St John of the Cross says that before we can reach the point of union with God, we must first go through the awful dark night of the soul which can last for years upon years. Even Paul’s writings seem to become less happy as time goes on.
Then again, perhaps this is a process which God only takes a few people through. And perhaps Naugle’s main objective is to push back against a culture which says that happiness is found in perusing personal desires. But I just don’t think I can subscribe to the idea that a well ordered, and well lived Christian life is a happy one.



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