Tuesday, May 2, 2017

to be happy as a fish

St Basil tells us about being content with what we have today in A Year with the Church Fathers. 

He points out that fish tend to live in certain parts of the world... and they usually don't go stealing the homes of other fish. Now, there are alot of fish in the sea, as we all know. And not all of them live the content, non-selfish lives that St Basil describes. But the principle remains. Animals tend to live in the here and now, rather than scheming to steal things from other animals. On the other hand, we humans tend to do what is called mimetic desire. A very influential thinker named Rene Girard taught that we humans tend to want things simply because someone else has it or wants it. You can watch an interesting video on Girard here.

But it's true. If we humans only desired the things that we simply like on their own merit, our lives would be much simpler (like fish) and happier (like dogs?). However, we see advertising, which makes us want new things. We have neighbors who have things that make us want them. As part of our consumer driven economic society, we are constantly encouraged to buy new things. And this produces a sense of malaise inside of us when we don't have the newest and shiniest.

A return to simplicity is a good thing. If you haven't read Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster, I highly recommend it. One of the many things he teaches in that book is how to live simply. And that simple living brings with it great joy.

God, please help us to simplify our lives, like the fishes, so we can be filled with Your joy.

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