Saturday, December 15, 2012

Now You Want Meaning?

Modern people do not know why they exist. They are not moving towards anything, ultimately, and they value nothing ultimately. This is as much a moral issue as it is an existential crisis.

To quote John Cheever, "The main emotion of the adult Northeastern American who has had all the advantages of wealth, education, and culture is disappointment." Boredom and disappointment pervade America's Christ-haunted culture. While the ghost sits on the modern man's shoulder, beckoning to him to come find meaning and purpose, he buries his face in his iPhone and hopes that an answer will come shining off of the screen between games of Angry Birds. But the answers seem to never come. When something as horrible as this school shooting happens, suddenly purpose and meaning step to the fore. These same distracted, disappointed people want to know why this has happened, in spite of the fact that they have been perfectly happy to go through life with blinders on up to this point.

The immediate and direct answer is probably that he was bored, he was distracted, and he was disappointed, he was affluent, he was white, just like all the others who perpetrate these sorts of wicked mass murders in the West. As Walker Percy insightfully said, “You live in a deranged age, more deranged than usual, because in spite of great scientific and technological advances, man has not the faintest idea of who he is or what he is doing."

When horrific events like this take place, people begin to demand that clergy answer for God. However, all thinking people ought to demand that the humanist just as well answer for man.

The humanists among us offer their answers to the problem of meaninglessness and boredom, basically saying that the more people get to know themselves, the more they dive down into the human condition, the more likely they are to find meaning - after all, from their perspective there is nowhere else to go to find it. All the while, the ghost sits on their shoulder, defining them and establishing who they are as they continually fight to shake it off.

As long as people refuse to be defined by their Maker - defined from without, they will continue to be baffled by what they find within, and a restless, dangerous boredom will continue to cover our land.

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