Monday, March 30, 2015

So what if I live in a jungle or a home?

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"Our treehut in the jungle" by Christian Haugen is licensed under C.C. by 2.0
My last post referred to some anecdotes of life that prove the point that the world can seem to be an inhospitable jungle and very much not the home that Christianity claims it to be.  This post by my friend Rachel Coleman is also helpful in describing the gift nature of creation. 

So in this post I would like to unpack some implications for marriage and family life given the fact that the world is ultimately a good gift given to us, not some testing ground for cleverness and survival instincts a la Tunnel in the Sky, Ender’s Game, Hunger Games or Maze Runner

1)      If the world—and life in it—is a good gift given by a loving Father then I don’t have to construct my own happiness in a relationship.  Instead I can receive it and cooperate with a natural order already inscribed in everything around me. 
·         For instance: my wife’s fertility isn’t a burdensome killjoy that I must have her medicate away or always walled off from me.  Rather, I can learn the cycles present within her femininity and collaborate with them for the conception or postponement of a baby and in so doing I will be called outside of my own boyish demands and discover happiness stemming from virtuous (although strenuous) selflessness (who wants to be married to a tantrum throwing boy when he can’t have what he wants?  Who wants to be a 20/30/40/etc. something year old boy?).  

2)      I can stay put and enjoy the adventure of domesticity.
·         You should really check out two essays by G. K. Chesterton entitled Homesick at Home and The Wildness of Domesticity (it’s in the compilation book Brave New Family).  Until you do however, suffice it to say that rather than chasing a promotion, bigger bank statements, more toys and gadgets, clothes, or square footage, try pursuing and “earning” your spouse’s affection like you did when you first dated.  How about pursuing your spouse by putting on perfume/cologne just because you’re both home for dinner on Tuesday night?  What if you spent more time with your children than your smartphone, coworkers or lawnmower?  What if your home didn’t have a blue glow and background noise from breakfast to Jimmy Fallon?  

3)      I won’t need to compete with others to get ahead.
·         I can focus my energies on diligently applying myself to serving the authentic needs of those who depend on me.  If I run a business, then my employees and customers get my sincerely best efforts.  If I am an employee, then my supervisor, coworkers and customers should all intuitively sense that I’m not truncating my performance on Monday morning or Friday afternoon.  When I am at home my spouse and children have 100% access to me.    

4)      I won’t need to necessarily curtail my openness to children in order to “survive” or be “happy”.  [See this post about what’s happening in Italy or read this book or watch these documentaries]
·         This is really the kicker that strikes me as the most important ramification regarding whether or not we perceive the world as a home or a jungle.  Who wants to bring a baby into a dangerous unknown?  No one.  Who can’t help but want to fill up empty bedrooms with cribs, kitchen tables with high chairs, back seats with car seats and toilets with potty seats?  Those who perceive the world as fundamentally hostile and hopeless.  You see the future of humanity depends on the outlook of us today.  Civilizations continue or end when the majority of citizens either sign up for celebratory joy and hope or survival mode minimalism due to perceived hostility.

Life is challenging and living it virtuously so as to respond to God’s grace fruitfully is a life-long task.  But it is a worthwhile life project that makes sense when you have been given a home from which to venture out of, not abandoned into a dangerous peril-filled wilderness.           

What do you think are other consequences of interpreting the world as a threat-filled jungle versus a hospitable safe home?

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