Friday is for Friends

Naugle.jpgWe begin a new “friday is for friends” series next week, but today we introduce the theme: happiness. I encourage you to purchase and read David Naugle‘s newest book, Reordered Love, Reordered Lives: Learning the Deep Meaning of Happiness
, if you want to enter more completely into this series.

The theme of happiness interests me, and so does this new book by Naugle, someone known for his book on Worldview (Worldview: The History of a Concept
). This new book on happiness should provide for us a couple of months of conversation. (There is even more discussion of Naugle’s book at his own website: www.reorderedlove.com.)


Nuit.jpgNaugle begins by discussing the broken heart, and he uses Aristide Maillol’s famous sculpture, La Nuit. “We  too,” Naugle observes, “may consider our troubles as vast as the sea, as great as a galaxy.” Maybe she’s asking, “Whatever happened to my hope for a happy life?” Or, “What is happiness, anyway? Is the search for it fruitless?” Then Naugle quotes The Preacher:

“So I congratulated the dead who are already dead more than the living who are still living. But better off than both of them is the one who has never existed, who has never seen the evil activity that is done under the sun” (Eccl. 4:2-3).

Yet, and this is the point Naugle is leading to, we remain hopeful, we yearn for better times and brighter days. Yes, we think we will be happy someday.

I agree with Naugle: “The components of our nature are fixed, and our compelling needs are unyielding.”

Now the question of the day: What do you think of this statement by Naugle? “If we pay attention to our own lives and observe the lives of others, we will soon discern that a a desire for happiness of one kind or another is the conscious, subconscious, or unconscious motivation for just about everything we do” (4).

Do you agree? What explains this inner yearning for what is happy? How much does this factor into our theology and our practice?

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than fifty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.

  • Taylor George

    I agree with Naugle, that a desire for happiness is the motivation for everything we do. I have also heard pastors preach against this desire to be happy, and wondered why they differentiate happiness from joy. To me they are the same, joy and happiness.

  • http://www.jesustheradicalpastor.com John W Frye

    The old saw goes “Happiness is subject to happenings, that is, what goes on around us.” It is external. I think Naugle by the use of “reordered” and “deep” in his title is moving “happiness” inside us. My Ukrainian friends who have less to make them “happy” than most UAmericans still exhibit a contagious joy. I think comment #1 raises an important distinction between “happiness” and “joy.”

  • Rebeccat

    This is interesting. My one new year’s resolution was to do things that happy people do. I think that one of the things at the root of what Naugle is talking about is our tendency to view our present situation (I’m thinking more about emotions, mood, perspective here than external circumstance) as permanent. We don’t give ourselves enough credit for being able to grow and change and learn in ways that are beneficial to our well being. This robs us of hope and leaves us waiting for the externals to change. We often feel that our current state is not a normal part of our journey to wholeness, but a sign that we’re off course or waylaid and may never find out way out.

  • BeckyR

    There are christians who have known very little suffering. My observations have been that they expect happiness and don’t think about happiness. What is that scripture song : this is the day that the Lord has made I will be glad and rejoice in it. It rubs against me each time we sing it, because for those who have not suffered much, it means we will be happy. But then there is me who has known much suffering and I think of the scriptures that talk of all the hardship one has gone through yet has contentment. I’ll take contentment over happiness. Happiness, to me, is from external things and is fleeting. I could join those in scripture who talk of the hardship they’ve endured, I could make my own list, but I aim for contentment. Happiness for me, is a surface thing, it doesn’t go very deep. Yet I will admit I want happiness, but I don’t aim nor work for it. Schaeffer warned against going for personal peace and affluence. To work to get those things, we exclude others. It’s me over anything else.
    I think we don’t like unhappiness and so we go for trying to get happiness. Unhappiness doesn’t feel too good so we try to get rid of it.

  • http://www.communityofjesus.blogspot.com/ Ted M. Gossard

    Is God happy and why? If we are made in God’s image and to have communion with God, then it would seem that we enter into the same kind of life.
    Just the thought of happiness and experiences of it now, fleeting though they may seem to many, suggest that this is part of what is good. Happiness suggests contentedness, joy, pleasure, fulfillment- and surely at the heart of it, and behind it is Love Itself, or the God who is love.

  • Ben S.

    In terms of definitions, I would tend to equate happiness with satisfaction. Yes, you could also equate it with joyfulness, cheer, fun and other such moods, but I think we are talking here about an inner since of satisfaction. I believe we naturally yearn for this kind of happiness because we yearn for what we were made for, what we were designed for originally and that has not been satisfied. To me, this inner desire or search for happiness points me toward the Christian Hope for the future when all will be restored.
    Joy is something else. We are called to be joyful always, because of the hope we have, in all situations.

  • RJS

    To buy or not to buy, that is the question;
    Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
    The lack of knowledge with pocketbook intact,
    Or to take card against a sea of ignorance,
    And by purchasing, end it. To buy, to read;
    To know; and buy a book to read we end
    The embarrassment and the humiliation
    That mind is heir to — ’tis a consummation
    Devoutly to be wish’d. To buy, to read;
    To study, perchance to know.


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