Friday is for Friends

HappinessCht.jpgFriends think about, talk about, and enjoy happiness with one another. David Naugle’s new book, Reordered Love, Reordered Lives: Learning the Deep Meaning of Happiness, is a good book to read and a good book to discuss — and I hope you find a way to read it in a group or at least with a friend. You may have heard this, but there are lots of studies today that measure the happiest places on earth (Denmark is #1) and that the correlation of wealth and happiness is not what many think it might be. And there is a correlation of happiness and one’s political/religious views. Having said that, let’s dip into Naugle’s 1st chp — which has so many ideas on happiness it is hard to contain.


Question: If you had to pick the top three things required in order to be happy, what would they be?

It is true that happiness is a “yuppie word” (Bob Dylan, who prefers “blessed”) far too often connected to doing what one wants — to a personal, subjective state. It is also true that the church has had its share of struggles affirming the value of happiness as a universal human trait. “Believers,” the church tends to say, “are straight-laced, sober, and sad. Some are cold; a few are frozen.” So Naugle argues in this book for a Christian definition and a Christian appropriation of the universal longing what is best called “happiness.”

Eden.jpg(Awesome picture.)

Naugle’s claim is that Christian happiness is “Edenistic” and not “hedonistic.” (Clever.) He finds six features:

1. Spiritually: we are made for union with God as Eikons.
2. Vocationally: we are made to undertake fulfilling work as stewards of God’s creation.
3. Socially: we are made for human companionship “especially as man and woman in the context of marriage and family life” (though he is not here addressing the single life or denying it or judging it).
4. Nutritionally: we are made to partake of food and drink.
5. Sabbatically: we are made to rest and play in the blessing of the 7th day.
6. Habitationally: we are made to take pleasure in our surroundings — an Edenic vision.

About Scot McKnight

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

  • Tom

    The right wing American religious spin can’t contain itself :^)
    I do like your blog but hope you won’t fall back on sophomoric stuff that tries to show that people that disagree with you aren’t as happy as you are. In real life people go through seasons of unhappiness and happiness, and most people with less of an ax to grind recognize that those seasons don’t tend to support political or religious ideologies.
    Wish you would back off the propaganda and get back to helping us all consider how we can move ahead.

  • Chris E

    Gosh, Tom, you don’t sound very happy.

  • Andy W.

    Am I missing something here Tom. Did you not notice that Conservatives are the lowest in 2 categories? Religious is an awfully broad category and I believe your own biases might be equating religious with right wing evangelical. Did you notice how Denmark was the happiest place (neither a very religious nor right wing place)? Maybe you’ve read the book and have some inside info?

  • Tom

    No, at this point I’m not very happy, Chris.
    What does that have to do with the relevance of our comments?

  • Chris E

    Tom, I guess your post just didn’t make any sense. Scot is a committed Christian and so of course he’s going to, from time to time, say things that are complimentary to Jesus’ side. Telling him to knock it off is like telling Obama to stop being a Democrat. It’s what he is. Plus mountains of studies over decades have borne out what this chart shows; committed religious people are happier/less unhappy than the populace in general.


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