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Tuesday, July 11, 2017

The Pursuit of Happiness Is a Dead-End Street

Eugene Peterson: The Pursuit of Happiness Is a Dead-End Street

"Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." Pretty much every American can recite this trio of "unalienable rights" listed in the Declaration of Independence.
I can't say for sure what Eugene Peterson—the longtime pastor, prolific author, and creator of the common-language Bible translation The Message—thinks of Thomas Jefferson's Enlightenment-era philosophizing. But there's no doubt he finds "the pursuit of happiness" fatally lacking as a statement of life's purpose. CT's June issue carries an extended excerpt from a chapter of Peterson's latest book, As Kingfishers Catch Fire: A Conversation on the Ways of God Formed by the Words of God. In it, he dives into portions of Ecclesiastes to show how active pleasure- seeking, detached from God's pleasure-giving, is a dead-end street.
"Pleasures," Peterson writes, "are gifts to be enjoyed, not goals to be pursued. No pleasure, however delightful, provides a reason for living or a goal for growing. The pursuit of pleasure leads into a swamp of boredom. The foundational human appetite is for God. God has filled the world with all manner of delight. To enjoy it we need the light touch of one who accepts a gift. We need protection from the sweaty, enslaving compulsions of taking a God -gift and immediately de-godding it into an idol. It is possible to accept all the gifts of life and enjoy them completely only if we refuse to make gods out of them."
Jackie Robinson's Steadfast Faith

With Major League Baseball's All-Star Game happening tonight, I thought I'd share this insightful take on an underappreciated aspect of Jackie Robinson, the man who broke baseball's color barrier: his steadfast Christian faith. Paul Putz, a PhD candidate in history at Baylor University, reviews two recently-published books attempting to fill the "God-shaped hole" that has marred previous accounts of Robinson's life.
Robinson, as Putz writes, emerges as a "committed and thoughtful mainline Protestant comfortable within black and white Christian communities. Well versed in the Bible and connected to Protestant institutions throughout his life, Robinson saw faith as a source of inspiration, hope, and American identity. He grew up with a personal moral code taught by most white and black Protestants in the early 20th century—no smoking, no drinking, no premarital sex. But he was also shaped by the social witness distinct to the black church, believing that Christians had a responsibility to combat racism in American society, that anti-racism was a mark of true Christianity, and that many white Christians were failing to practice what they preached."
Matt Reynolds,
Associate Editor, Books
Christianity Today

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