Friday, July 20

'weltschmerz' was Jason's word of the day a couple of days ago. I wasn't going to log it, but I keep thinking about it, so I guess I will.

mental depression or apathy caused by comparison of the actual state of the world with an ideal state

I have this theory that some of the most cynical of us have come to it by way of idealism. We have an idealistic concept of the world, and get jaded. This is very true of me.

Sometimes I think the most optimistic I can get is trying to hope. But, principally, I don't believe that's positive enough.

For example, I'm reading Lloyd Alexander's 'The Foundling'. At the end of the first chapter, which is Dallben's origin, it says something like: at the end of knowledge comes wisdom, and with wisdom comes hope. Nice sentiment, and those things are all important, but I think he got the relationships wrong.

The definition of wisdom that I took from my DandD days is 'knowledge put into action' or something like that. It's different from knowledge, which is content, and intelligence, which I think of as processing power and speed.

Okay so far. Proverbs says 'the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom'. I think that's right. According to the Bible, nothing is really wise unless it begins with God.

And hope is something different. In Christianity, hope has content. Alexander's hope seems vague: optimism that isn't really based on anything. It reminds me of the Geoffrey Rush character in 'Shakespeare in Love' who keeps saying that something good will happen, but for no good reason. Very postmodern, but it's a bunch of baloney. That kind of hope belongs to Pollyana, Helen Steiner Rice, Dale Carnegie, and Hallmark.

The very popular 1 Corinthians 13 (that you hear at weddings, beginning 'Love is patient, love is kind...') ends 'these three remain: faith, hope, and love, and the greatest of these is love'. The proper interpretation here is not that Paul is commending fuzzy virtues. Rather, they all have content. And, since this is Christianity, it's not surprising that the content is Christ: faith/trust in Christ, hope in Christ, and love for Christ that expresses itself best in love for other people.

So, back to hope. Christian hope looks forward to Jesus' ultimate victory over evil, the consummation of the coming of His kingdom, His return, and the redemption of Creation. That's part of what Christians, properly, should live for.

That's why I say, principially, that I should have more hope. I believe these things.

But I don't see them, and that's the problem. I can't believe my eyes, but I tend to. Paul said in 2 Corinthians that what is seen is temporary, and what is unseen is eternal. I get focused on what I see, and it gives me weltschmerz (were you wondering if that would come back around?). I forget my hope, the only real hope (if you're going to follow the teachings of Paul and Jesus about it).

(preemptive rejoinder: This is where some critics of Christianity will accuse us of waiting for 'pie in the sky when we die' and letting the world go to hell around us. No question some do that, but it's not the Jesus way. Instead, we should do both: We care about the future and eternity and live with those things in mind (Store up your treasures in heaven). But we also care about things and people here ('Love your neighbor as yourself.' 'Rule over the earth (ie, be good stewards of Creation).'). Ya' dig?)
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