Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Flattened Vision

I have had a problem with popular romantic stories that I've seen on TV, in movies, and in books. They are usually about a person finding that one special someone who will make them happy. I think these stories are completely unrealistic, but they set up the expectation that this is the way to find happiness. I think this is one reason for the high divorce rate. A person gets married thinking they've found that special person, but later the person doesn't seem so special anymore and someone else seems to be the special one, so they leave their spouse to go after the other. Although I think people should be careful about who they choose to marry, I believe true marital happiness comes from learning to love the person you married through the difficult times as well as the good times.

Today I read a great article, "The Freshest Love Story This Season Isn't a Romance." It is an interview with Roger Thomas, the author of The Accidental Marriage. Not only does he deal with this false idea of love, but he also hits on why most people have a completely false idea of the whole point of life. Here is a great quote where Thomas talks about "the hotbed of the infection" that is behind all of the sex and marriage controversies today:
I think people need to read more Peter Kreeft. He’s especially good at reminding us that this world is only a training ground, a “saint factory” that prepares us for the Real Life that is to follow: the Resurrected Life with Christ. Because we’ve lost sight of the fact that our life in this world is only temporary, we tend to seek all our gratification here. You see this expressed in slogans like, “Don’t let life pass you by!” and “You only live once!” This “flattened” view that looks no further than our earthly existence lends a measure of desperation to our view of life. What if we’re stuck in a dead-end job (or marriage, or town, or whatever)? Are we wasting precious minutes of the only life we have? This drives people to grasp at things that promise greater satisfaction, leading people to divorce and remarriage, to premarital sex, to abandoning loved ones so they can “follow their dreams”, breaking what prior generations would have considered inviolable oaths.

If you were to look for the hotbed of the infection, this is where I’d start: not only be helping people to understand not only that this life isn’t our only chance, but also that it’s a preparation ground for real life, and the choices we make here can influence the real life that we’re training for.
From now on, I am going to use this term, "flattened vision." I have believed such a view of life was the root of so many problems today, and finally I've found someone who articulates it clearly. I have tried to live my life in light of the world to come for 35 years now, and I believe it is the only way that life makes sense. For a while, I was intimidated by accusations that living for heaven was an escape from this world, or even a way for religion to take advantage of the poor and ignorant. Such claims no longer bother me because I have seen that living as if this life is a preparation for the real life to come results in a happy life that is beneficial to others.

So, I am putting The Accidental Marriage on my to-read list.

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