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I just read the following lines in a business magazine:
“Any woman who may want to marry me has to understand that I am already married. I am married to my business.”
This quote reminded me of a disturbing truth that undermines our cult of individualism in the West. That truth is this: you WILL love god.
No human being is free from desire. Every human has it. And every human attaches that desire to something, making it their god. It is disappointing news to radical individualists, but the conclusion is unavoidable: You WILL love god.
Do not confuse desire with enthusiasm. A person sitting on a couch for six hours while watching TV may not have much enthusiasm, but he has desire. He has the desire to watch TV. Being lazy is still a desire, a fact that any procrastinator knows most intimately.
Again, my fundamental premise: every human being has desire. We can’t run from it. We can’t kill it. We can NEVER be free from it. We are more likely to be successful at running away from our shadow than from removing our desire.
And so we are all stuck with desire. Thus, the only real choice to be made is the object upon which I should rest my desire. To which object/idea/person/reality should I attach my desire? That is the only choice I have.
Every person seeks the fulfillment of their desire. Not some people. Not most people. EVERY person attaches their desire to something. The man who I quoted at the beginning clearly has attached his desire to his business. He spends the great majority of his energies on cultivating, nourishing, developing, thinking about, and growing his business. It is more intimate to him than any wife could ever hope to be.
The object to which a person attaches their desire is their god, and since we can’t choose to have desire (we can only decide the object to attach to that desire), then we are faced with a most-disturbing conclusion: you WILL love god. It is unavoidable. You will attach your desire to something. You will seek to have your desire fulfilled. You WILL love god.
From this fact, I have been able to understand why so many people in this country are completely miserable. It is because people place their desire in mortal things. How distraught this business man must be to place his entire life in his business, only to watch it crumble (and it WILL crumble). He has made his business his god, and his god is a god that is guaranteed to die. What a waste.
At least this businessman has made a god of something other than himself. Unfortunately, many people pick as their god something even more futile than a business: their self. In our Cult of Individualism, many people choose to worship their self and to make their very self the attachment of all their desire. This is more draining than any other object because there is nothing more OBVIOUSLY futile than human existence. Is there anything more likely in this world than the simple fact that YOU ARE GOING TO DIE? If you have chosen to make your self your god, every time you pass a cemetery, you will be reminded of the futility of the object of your desire. Every bag-pipe blowing at a funeral will be the bitter song of emptiness that weeps at your life of quiet desperation.
It is not intellectually fashionable (or credible) in our society to say that you believe in God. Sure, you can use words like “faith”, “belief”, and “spiritual”, but as soon as you mention that you believe in God, a divine being who created the world and created you and me, a God who is personal and has spoken and continues to speak to our world in very plain and simple language, you will immediately be chased out into the streets or, more likely, sent to the madhouse. “Leave your ancient mythology and belittling hierarchy at the door. Science and culture has long proven that this God does not exist. At the very least, we don’t need him. The trumpets of progress and economic development have proclaimed loudly and definitively that we do not need a God.” Economic development. Democratic freedom. Education reform. Any of these are perfectly fine ideals and socially acceptable norms. But mention “God”, and you go to the madhouse. “Nobody with any real experience in the real world would turn to ancient ghost stories to explain reality”, or so the story goes.
Yet I can’t help but notice that these same people who trumpet progress and development are consumed with misery. They are not wholesome minds and wholesome people who have clearly found the source of Life and vitality. Instead, I see in their eyes an emptiness and misery that I want no part of. They are looking at me with crazed and desperate eyes, hollow wraiths who want me to eat their empty fruit, and I think to myself “you clearly seem to need something else.” For their misery has nothing to do with physical or material means. It is the “healthiest” among us, the most materially successful, those desperate housewives with golden houses, who ooze stagnant apathy and restlessness from every pore of their body. Their god they have chosen to love has consumed them and left them empty. This, of course, is no shock or surprise, for they chose to love a mortal god. And mortal gods always leave you empty, because mortal gods always die.
We get to my final point: there is absolutely NOTHING illogical or unreasonable about believing in an immortal God. I have desire, and that desire is not fulfilled unless it rests in something immortal. Call my God unscientific (He is not). Call my God outdated (He most definitely is not). But don’t call my God illogical. Attaching my desire to something that won’t be destroyed is the most logical thing possible. It is the person who attaches their desire to something that is GUARANTEED to be destroyed who is illogical. Say that I am wrong. But don’t say it is illogical. Even if you think my path MAY be wrong, the alternative path is GUARANTEED to be wrong. The alternative path is guaranteed to end in emptiness, for attaching desire to things that every cemetery proclaims will never endure is the crazy path through life. Please sell this madness somewhere else. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.
Do you wonder about the object of your desire? Do you know if it is mortal or immortal? Here is a test: If it is mortal, you are probably partying more than you want, dating more people than you would like, and reading blog posts that are too long, anything to keep you from facing the ultimate fact that what you may be desiring is worthless and futile. And your life may be broken and empty. And then you will be sad. And then you will wonder if there is any object which you can attach your desire that isn’t futile and mortal. And if you have the courage to get this far, then you will have the courage to assent to the Truth: there is only one object of your desire that will fulfill it, and that object isn’t and object at all. It is a person. And I have already told you his name. (If you think I am criticizing people who love mortal gods, you should reflect on how it is that I know so intimately about this emptiness and sadness.)
And this takes us full circle to why I was reading a business magazine in the first place. Why was I, a seminarian who is supposed to be preparing to become a priest, reading a magazine about starting and running a business? Because everything I do reminds me of my belief in God. I go for a run and I am reminded of God. I pee in a toilet and I am reminded of God. I open a magazine and read a quote about a man who has made his business his god, and I am reminded of God.
I don’t know how you can make the world your classroom and, being honest with yourself, not come to the conclusion that you should love God.