I’m pages away from finishing a marvelous book by John Piper entitled, “Desiring God” and a few nights ago I stumbled across something tucked away in one of the book’s appendices that I haven’t been able to stop thinking about.
First, a bit of preface.
Without delving too deep, Piper defines what he calls Christian Hedonism as the way by which “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him,” furthering the idea that man’s chief end is to glorify God. He goes on to explain the following:
We all make a god out of what we take the most pleasure in. Christian Hedonists want to make God their God by seeking after the greatest pleasure — pleasure in him.
By Christian Hedonism, we do not mean that our happiness is the highest good. We mean that pursuing the highest good will always result in our greatest happiness in the end. We should pursue this happiness, and pursue it with all our might. The desire to be happy is a proper motive for every good deed, and if you abandon the pursuit of your own joy you cannot love man or please God.
The Difference Between Worldly and Christian Hedonism:
Some people are inclined to believe that Christians are supposed to seek God’s will as opposed to pursuing their own pleasure. But what makes Biblical morality different than worldly hedonism is not that Biblical morality is disinterested and duty-driven, but that it is interested in vastly greater and purer things. Christian Hedonism is Biblical morality because it recognizes that obeying God is the only route to final and lasting happiness. Here are some examples of this from the Bible:
Luke 6:35 says, “Love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great.” It is clear when Jesus says “expect nothing in return” that we should not be motivated by worldly aggrandizement, but we are given strength to suffer loss by the promise of a future reward.
Again, in Luke 14:12-14: “When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your kinsmen or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return, and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor… and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. You will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.” That is, don’t do good deeds for worldly advantage; rather, do them for spiritual, heavenly benefits.
Beyond that, I’ll let you read the book for yourself and draw your own conclusions if you find yourself searching for deeper meaning. The subject of this blog entry is not about Christian Hedonism directly, but rather about a quote within “Desiring God” that I found ASTOUNDING and haven’t been able to get out of my mind since.
In “The Simple Life”, Vernard Eller delights himself in some of the great parables of SØren Kierkegaard. One of his favorites is the parable of the lighted carriage and the starlit night. We could also call it the crisis of Christian Hedonism. It goes like this:
“When the prosperous man on a dark but starlit night drives comfortably in his carriage and has the lanterns lighted, aye, then he is safe, he fears no difficulty, he carries his light with him, and it is not dark close around him. But precisely because he has the lanterns lighted, and has a strong light close to him, precisely for this reason, he cannot see the stars. For his lights obscure the stars, which the poor peasant, driving without lights, can see gloriously in the dark but starry night. So those deceived ones live in the temporal existence: either, occupied with the necessities of life, they are too busy to avail themselves of the view, or in their prosperity and good days they have, as it were, lanterns lighted, and close about them everything is so satisfactory, so pleasant, so comfortable — but the view is lacking, the prospect, the view of the stars.”
This parable BLEW MY MIND. What a potent dose of perspective these words are! And furthermore, which man am I? Am I MISSING OUT completely on the beauty that lies around me because I chooseto live in a temporal existence occupied with the pleasures/necessities of life versus an awareness and enjoyment of God?
Eller comments, “Clearly, ‘the view of the stars’ here intends one’s awareness and enjoyment of God.” The rich and busy who surround themselves with the carriage lights of temporal comfort, or the busy who cover themselves with troublesome care, cut themselves off from what Kierkegaard calls “the absolute joy”:
What indescribable joy! — joy over God the Almighty… for this is the absolute joy, to adore the almighty power with which God the Almighty bears all thy care and sorrow as easily as nothing.
If you really mull this over, it’ll have you tossing and turning in no time — and the more you think about it, the more profound it becomes.
I’m a thinker, not a talker. Mind pictures, exemplums and allegories hit home. This one was a grand slam.
On September 24th, 2011 by Adam Young
Sometimes I imagine I’m going to walk into a hotel elevator and meet someone during the trip to the lobby who will end up playing a role in the rest of my life. It’s as though the encounter is seconds away from willing itself into existence at any given moment, and had I a digital countdown, I could lean against the wallpaper and let the elevator doors open and close while I watch the second hand tick its way down to my rendezvous with destiny. On one hand, I’d have all the vernacular ammunition I’d ever need for a straight shot of eloquence, but to somehow convince myself that such a sacred encounter happening this way would be “theoretically ideal,” that would be like training my voice to speak with a harsh accent that hurts my ears. It’s not about destiny at all because Darth Vader ISN’T MY REAL DAD!!!!!!!1!! The bleakness of such a habitually forgetful/inattentive disposition unnerves me but it’s also what keeps me remembering where I am and what I’m supposed to be doing.
So in a way, musings like these have purpose. Or at least challenges I can benefit from.
Twenty years from now I imagine I’m going to feel like I missed out on something profoundly heartfelt when I look back on this pivotal scenario and the way it played out. Even if I loosen my grip long enough to steal an introspective moment out on the balcony, somehow I believe I’ll catch myself thinking, “I wish I’d been more assertive!” instead of idly letting life play out scene-by-scene in front of me. Maybe that’s just preconcerted apathy but my brain tends to harbor some deep-rooted necessity to keep reminding me that this fateful meeting could happen at any moment (and of course it could) but more importantly, that I be ready and waiting in the wings to handle it the way I’ve already anticipated.
It’s annoying but I’m so glad it doesn’t work like this. The caveat is that there’s NOTHING to be ANTICIPATED, or rather, it’s not my job to worry about it.
Call it the common dwellings of reticent people but at the end of the day, it’s all smoke and mirrors. My mind is a house standing against a background of sheltering trees that cannot protect it from every whip of wind that bends quasi-romantic intellectual faculties into deviations of straight lines; rigid projections of backbones that show signs of curving or arcing over time.
But I don’t worry about it.
But more than this, I’m deeply comforted to know that no amount of absentminded woolgathering can reconstruct “the plan” into something that I must practice or rehearse for, even if I wanted to. It will be unplanned, unpremeditated, extempore, unconstrained, unforced, and the thought becomes more beautiful the more I think about it (or perhaps the more I try not to).
Above and beyond all of this, I take great joy and comfort in knowing my Savior has it all blueprinted and planned down to the tiniest detail, and that my job isn’t to blubber and worry about the design — but to hush. To be concerned with the principles of morality, servanthood, discipleship and character, and ultimately, to trust.
AHHH! You know when Adam was singing 'The Yacht Club' and at the line "it was you!' he pointed at someone? THAT WAS ME!!! XD thank you for uploading the song, cuz i needed to be sure he pointed at someone and it wasn't just my imagination ;) Where were you standing?
That’s so cool!
We were on the right, by the wall for Bre and Alaska, but we decided to go to the left side for OC. We were behind one row of people almost directly in front of Daniel and Bre :)
Hey did you guys video The Yacht Club, cuz that was my favourite (that was when I actually made eye contact with ADAM!! XDDD) and it would be just AWESOME if you could put it up! Thanks, you guys are great, I love OWL CITY!
I did! I’m going to finish uploading all the videos by tonight, they should be up very soon :)
Q: What is your favorite part about Europe so far?
A: My favorite part about Europe is the foreign accent. I particularly like how different people say the word “idea” in the various ways it can be pronounced. The British accent tends to put a perceived “R” sound (like the world “are”) at the end — and to a redneck Minnesota boy, it sounds something like “idear” which is a pronunciation of the word my grandfather from Iowa says often. Only he says it with an equally redneck flavor which always makes me smile. Who knew the southern-Iowa accent was similar to the royal British accent? I love it.
We spoke to Adam “Owl City” Young about life on the road, new album All Things Bright And Beautiful and film music.
Touring in support of his latest album All Things Bright And Beautiful, Owl City is looking forward to being back on the road.
We chatted to Adam Young about touring, his film music ambitions and the new record.
-Are you excited about being back in Europe? Yeah, really excited. I was here about a year and a half ago, and unfortunately I was a bit sick, so I didn’t do a lot of anything outside of lying in my bunk on the tour bus.
This time around, I’m as healthy as an ox! We’ve had a few days off, and it’s been so cool to point my camera in every direction. I love everything about the UK to death, so it’s great.
-So you’re getting to see a lot of the cities rather than rushing around? Yeah. A little bit more than last time. There’s nothing I love more than to have a bit of extra time before sound-check every day to go out an explore. Even if it’s just around the venue, it’s awesome.
-Does that help life on the road, being able to do that? Definitely. It does get a little bit mundane if every day is being here at this time, there at exactly this time, and you know what’s gonna happen for the next two weeks. It gets a bit old, so just having this various spontaneous moments exploring and taking time for yourself, it’s wonderful.
-Is touring something you prefer to being locked up in the studio? Yeah, definitely. There is qualities about both that I do love. As long as there is a healthy balance between studio and life on the road…by the end of a long tour, there’s nothing better than going hope and spending time in the studio.
Just letting your mind run wild, and the same at the end of making a record, there’s nothing better than going out and touring. As long as there’s both of them, I’m great.
-Apparently you used to get quite nervous going on stage. Is that still a problem, or are you over that? You know, that definitely is still a thing for me! It’s one of those things where if those pre-show butterflies ever went away completely, it would probably stop being as fun.
For a shy kid, there’s always this moment before I walk out on stage where I’m thinking “I don’t know if I can go out there and sing for 90 minutes!” Then at the end, it’s like…I just did that, I poured my heart out.
I gave it my best, and even though it wasn’t perfect, it was still so fullfilling and satisfying. As long as it keeps feeling that way, I’ll want to do this as long as I can.
-On this UK tour you’re playing Shepherd’s Bush Empire. How does it feel to be playing to rooms that big? It’s so surreal for me. I’m playing this venue I’ve always heard about, ever since I was a little kid. It keeps me thinking…wow, is this real life? It keeps me rubbing my eyes every day and not taking any of this for granted.
-How was the US tour earlier this year? It was great. It was a long stretch, but it was a lot of fun. It’s always exciting to put out a new record at the top of a tour, and see progressively every night how kids start to know the words. As they learn the new songs, they sing louder every night. That’s really endearing.
-You have some dates in Europe with some non-English-speaking countries, so how is it hearing those crowds sing back your lyrics? That’s such a thrill, to think about how in some places there’s people who don’t speak English very well, and yet they know the words to every song. It’s very humbling.
-What can people expect from your live show? I think overall the live show is a quaint, thematic evening, going hand-in-hand with the new album and the album cover, which is this English countryside, rolling hills.
We tried to create that on stage, so we’ve got fake trees, a big backdrop. We’ve got ambient recordings in the background, bird songs. It’s a cool experience overall.
-Do you think it’s important to make it a full show, rather than someone stood on a stage singing? Yeah. When I first started, I was this kid by himself on stage with his laptop. I found early on that it was the most boring show you could ever watch! I try to make things a bit classy, more exciting.
-Shifting away from touring, how’s the reaction been to your latest album? So far, so good. It feels great to have it done, finished and out. It took me a long time.
I always forget how long it takes to make a record for one guy. It takes for ever, especially for a perfectionist like myself. It’s good to have it out, and thus far people have responded well to it.
-Do you manage to retain full control over it, without too much influence from the label? You know, surprisingly yeah. That was something I never expected when I first signed. I expected them to say…this is how it’s going to be. Go away and do your thing, come back and make sure it lines up with our expectations.
It’s been the opposite. They said go away, do your own thing, come back and we’ll follow your lead.
-How does it compare to your earlier material? It’s kinda matured a little bit. These new songs sound older and wiser. There’s a lot going on in terms of studio stuff, where myself as a producer…the more time you spend in the studio, the more you know what’s going on. The more you get to know the geer and what not. Overall, the whole sound is polished up a bit.
-I was reading about Sky Sailing. Could you tell us a bit about that? Yeah, that was a fun project. About 6 or 7 years ago I wrote this 12-song record that was acoustic guitar, piano and bass recording, less electronic.
That was the first experience I’d had as far as writing music at all. Two years ago I thought it’d be great to put this out, airbush it a bit, make sure the mixes are good and put it out. It was a fun thing to do.
-Could you see yourself doing something like that again, something more acoustic-based? Yeah, I would love to see where that rollercoaster would take me. There’s nothing planned yet, but who knows?
-You also did work on Legend of The Guardians last year. Would you ever consider going into film music a bit further than that? That’s definitely one of my dreams, for sure, to be able to work on film music. Whether that’s assisting a composer, or maybe someday scoring an entire feature film, I would love to do that.
That’s the way my mind tends to work, being able to crank out the music a bit faster than lyrics. If I was given a script and asked what it sounded like to me, I could run down to the studio and come up with that a lot faster than if I were to write lyrics.
-What do you have planned after the European tour? After this tour, we’ve got a week off, and then we do three weeks in Asia. It’ll be a fun trip, all these places I’ve never been. There’s something special about going somewhere you’ve never been before. I’m so blessed to do this.
[via Female First]
On September 12th, 2011 by Adam Young
Of the hundreds of relationships you participate in throughout the course of your roller coaster life — associations of all kind: good/bad, joyful/sad, casual/serious, friendly/hostile, short/long, romantic/heartbreaking and everything in between, there’s always ONE relationship that harrows you like an old wound that refuses to heal. It haunts your mind, frequents your thoughts — maybe because you let it, maybe because you’re reluctant to fight a losing battle when your emotions are swinging like saloon doors on rusty hinges. You live, you breathe, you dream, you repeat — but such austere malady won’t go away and your heart and resolve commit to a constant tug of war, each pulling on one end of your instincts. So you might as well diagnose yourself a royal schizophrenic! Wrestling with your emotions over the dream of someone who still claims so much of your sentiment but is no longer there… well isn’t that lovely.
And so you sit and think.
But you CAN’T think about things like this so you distract yourself!
And it actually works.
Wow, I feel better already.
Goodbye now to the breakdown between thought, emotion and behavior. Farewell to faulty perception and inapt actions and feelings. Goodbye to withdrawal from reality and personal relationships into fantasy and delusion. Good riddance to an overwhelming sense of mental fragmentation!
Life is way too short to worry about the past, and I for one, don’t have time for anxiety.
If you need me, I’ll be in my fuzzy turtleneck with a bowl of cereal staring out the kitchen window. I like the way the rain sounds against these old bay windows.