The sensitive cynics in my readership should by no means follow the link to this video about shame and vulnerability. They will hate it. It flows with the stream I am currently swimming in, however, which includes The Great Divorce from C. S. Lewis and Breathing Underwater from Richard Rohr. Still in progress is The Community Life of God from Milt Rodriguez. In various ways all of these works admonish us to be less self-centered, or, positively, more communal. They all include the theme that self-defense is self-destruction (emotionally). And thus far I agree.
The problem for me is that all are also burdened with something out of balance. To summarize I would say that all believe in a frustrated God, who wishes we were all happy but is powerless to make it so. Christ’s revelation of the gospel through his death and resurrection is regarded, at best, as a mystery understood by only a few in the thousands of years since. We are supposed to to need a better understanding of the secret to a happy life if we will see with new eyes what everyone else missed. (The video mentioned first will not even condescend to endorse religion; but in the end the difference matters little.)
My hope is Christ. I have no other. Three out of four of the authors would agree heartily with that statement, but we invest different meaning into it. If God needs me to cooperate, I am lost. Any progress I am making in goodness is only a growing comfort with my own reflection – and indeed it is self-acceptance and self-love that runs current among these works. Even though love for others is raised to the utmost importance, it is still with the goal of becoming happy.
Since I am discussing four different authors at one time it is very difficult to be specific and fair in my criticism. In the end that’s not my point anyway. I am not really interested in cataloging their faults, but only in voicing the disquiet I feel as I hear their heart-warming message. It is as the warm reassurances of a mistress, so kind, so understanding, so totally loving; and yet I am pledged to another love, harder and truer and deeper.
There is much truth in how these various people describe human dysfunction. I do not accuse them of being deliberately misleading. But I do not believe that they can deliver on their promises, either; and that is what is so terrible to consider. Chasing rainbows is considered by some a noble pursuit; by others, a fool’s errand. I remember why the rainbow was made; and it is both before and after the rainbow that we must remember. The rainbow itself is not the goal.