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I was in the Dining Commons the other day when I overheard one person ask another, “Did you enjoy your meal?” The phrase struck me weird, and I thought about it.

We can like something without enjoying it. Food can taste good, and we can fail to enjoy it. We can spend time with our friends, and not enjoy it. We can walk outside on a gorgeous sunny day… and not enjoy it. In this context, our good friends Merriam and Webster define “enjoy” thus:

enjoy en·joy (verb) in-ˈjȯi To take pleasure or satisfaction in.

It is possible to be in a thoroughly enjoyable situation and not enjoy it. I do this all the time! I’ll be with some of the most awesome people in the world, in a nice warm heated room at a college where I’m learning to do something I’ve wanted to do since I was a kid… and be completely apathetic.

A guy named Clive Staples Lewis wrote a handy book called The Screwtape Letters, fictitious letters of advice to a “junior tempter” named Wormwood from his uncle Screwtape, a more skilled tempter. It’s basically the Christian equivalent of the CIA intercepting a bunch of letters from the KGB giving advice on how to best trick Americans into losing the Cold War. Anyway, about halfway through letter 15, Screwtape gives Wormwood this advice:

We want a whole race perpetually in pursuit of the rainbow’s end, never honest, nor kind, nor happy now, but always using as mere fuel wherewith to heap the altar of the future every gift which is offered them in the present.

Screwtape ends the letter, “And anyway, why should the creature be happy?” Continue reading ““Enjoy.””

Instructions for Living in the Empire

There are a few “fringe theologians” who disavow friendship with the United States of America. Some, like Shane Claiborne, refer to the USA as “Empire” and disavow it, trying to live “off the grid,” away from the realm of America. The idea that the church is this Kingdom of God that will never be destroyed or conquered, and that all other kingdoms will crumble into nothingness (Daniel 2:44) and that, as Christians, we should live away from it and wait for it to fall. It makes sense in some ways… which is why it’s such attractive heresy.

Last night, I was reading in Jeremiah 29 from The Message and found a few lines that were, at least for the moment, more fascinating than verse 11:

This is the Message from God-of-the-Angel-Armies, Israel’s God, to all the exiles I’ve taken from Jerusalem to Babylon:

“Build houses and make yourselves at home.

Put in gardens and eat what grows in that country.

Marry and have children. Encourage your children to marry and have children so that you’ll thrive in that country and not waste away.

Make yourselves at home there and work for the country’s welfare.
Pray for Babylon’s well-being. If things go well for Babylon, things will go well for you.” (Jeremiah 29:4-7, MSG, emphasis mine) Continue reading “Instructions for Living in the Empire”