What is Christian Hedonism by jackshepherd

VIEWS: 0 PAGES: 6

									        What is Christian Hedonism?
           Lessons from a Love Poem


    Then Let Me All My Pleasures Tell

For Noel on Our Twenty-Fifth Wedding Anniversary
                 December 21, 1993



              I am a Christian Hedonist,
        Though there are some who still insist
            I drop the name. I do not bid,
          Much less demand, nor ever did,
            That anyone should follow me
       In wearing this strange badge. The key
              To joy and holiness is not
           in names or labels we have got,
          Nor is much truth or love assured
          By ranks and titles we've secured.

           But I do bid that all will come
        And drink with me the waters from
         The fountain of delights whom we
       Call Christ, and that we taste and see
           The fullness of his Father's joy
      Which none can make and none destroy;
       And that we take from his right hand
         Eternal pleasures He has planned
       For those who love Him more than all
        His gifts, and gladly leave the small
        And fleeting pleasures of this earth
          To savor God and all he's worth.
            I bid the world and everyone
           Who's ever wanted joy to shun
        With me the ease of wealth, the chill
        And rush of faithless sex, the thrill
        Of fame, and pride of power and all
        The thousand pleasures that enthrall
          Us with their godless innocence,
         And pay instead a tribute whence
       All great and lasting pleasures come:
         To show by our pursuit that from
         His holy Fountain flows far more
        Than earth could ever hold in store.

         Call this whatever name you may,
    It is the truth. Shall God display
       His great all-satisfying grace
 In joyless souls? And shall he trace
        The outlines of his majesty
   In hearts that neither taste nor see
     Enough in him to comprehend
  That here their quest is at an end?
     No, God has made another way
        To put his glory on display.
His goodness shines with brightest rays
    When we delight in all his ways.
        His glory overflows its rim
      When we are satisfied in him.
      His radiance will fill the earth
    When people revel in his worth.
      The beauty of God's holy fire
 Burns brightest in the heart's desire.

Now I have taught these things for years
And found that sometimes there are fears
  In people's minds that even though
      This may be true, it is not so
  For them, or seems remote without
  Some story they might think about
       Relating to their daily life.
     And so I tell one of my wife.

       I say, Suppose it is today
      Our anniversary, let's say,
   The twenty-fifth; and I go down
   To some small florist in our town
    And buy a rose for every year
 That we've been married, then appear
  At our front door and ring the bell.
    And then you picture that Noel
Swings wide the door and hears me say,
    As I hold out the rose display,
         "A happy anniversary,
 Noel!" And she responds, "For me?
    O these are beautiful, but why
  So much?" To which I then reply,
While holding up my hand, "You know
         It is my duty that I go
Each year and buy what husbands ought
   To buy. I think I was well-taught
   That there are proper ways to do
   These things, and I just wanted you
     To know that I am duty bound
    And that my character is sound."

      Well, at this point the story stops
    Because they laugh, unless it flops,
    And then they groan. But I inquire,
    "What's wrong with duty? I admire
       This virtue very much. Do you
      Not think that she was given due
       Esteem, the object of such high
         And noble sentiments that I
 Should do what's right because it's right
And not debase myself with vain delight?
 It's odd that you should laugh, or groan,
   When so much rectitude was shown.
        Is not she honored as the goal
      Of all my work and self-control
        By which all hedonistic thirst
   Was held in check with no outburst?"

    A question that I hope will show,
   "The answer, folks, is clearly NO."
  How then shall she be honored more
        If not by duty at the door?
       To answer this let us return
 Now to the scene and watch and learn.
    Noel swings wide the door. I say,
   While holding out the rose display,
          "A happy anniversary,
  Noel!" And she responds, "For me?
      O these are beautiful, but why
   So much?" To which I then reply,
 "It makes me glad to bring you things.
      In fact, Noel, I think it brings
  Me more delight to spend this night
     With you than anyone I might.
    Why don't you go dress for a date
     And tell the boys it may be late.
        I cannot think of any way
       I'd rather celebrate this day
        Than satisfying my desire
    With one that I so much admire."

    Now at this point the story ends,
    And I inquire to all my friends,
       Does anyone believe that my
      Good wife would angrily reply,
     "You selfish Christian Hedonist!
Next thing you know I might be kissed!
 It makes YOU glad to bring me things,
   And I suppose your heart has wings
And next you'll prob'ly write some verse
    About how nothing could be worse
     For YOU than living without me.
    Well, I suggest that you should see
      What duty, discipline and strain
Might make you do for me through pain."

   And then I ask, why doesn't she
  Take such offense when I'm so free
     To say, "It gladdens me to be
  With you"? The answer all can see:
    The pleasure that I take in her
       Is but the measure I infer
   That all her excellence conveys.
  Delight does not indict but praise.
     It fills the longing of my life
    And glorifies my worthy wife.

       I am a Christian Hedonist
    Because I know that if I kissed
   My wife simply because it's right
   And not because it's my delight
    It would not honor her so well.
   With pleasures I will praise Noel,
      And I will magnify my wife
     By making her my joy in life.

   Her courage and her fearless grace
   To venture well beyond the place
   That people call secure, and serve
   With even pace and steady nerve
  The cause of Christ, and call it good
    To live in Philips neighborhood;

  Her patience, living with five men,
   Named Karsten, Aber, Barna, Ben
  And me, who lack a woman's touch,
    And maybe make a bit to much
    At meal time of a cat's defeat,
   And which roadkills are fit to eat;
     Her sharp and penetrating mind
    That is not duped, but sees behind
     The ruse of advertising schemes
   And is not snared with empty dreams
   But pierces through the polished skin
   And sees the heart and truth within;

    Her love for simple home decor,
   To keep things modest during war,
     To put no stock in passing fads,
    Nor be intrigued with glossy ads,
  Nor join the mass through empty miles
   Spent chasing ever-changing styles;

     Her busy hands that never harm
  But fill a room with Christmas charm
  Or Lenten lights, that make and mend,
   And weave an afghan for a friend;

  Her faith and hope and love to Christ,
     Her confidence that it sufficed
      For him to die and rise again
        To cover all our daily sin;

    Her fortitude and strength of will
  When warmth and tenderness were nil,
   To do what one must do, and walk
  In hope when we could scarcely talk.

     Her kneeling by me at the bed
    Day in day out as we have spread
   Our hope and pain before the throne
And watched God make his mercies known.

   Her grace that never holds a grudge
    And lays aside the right to judge,
     Nor seeks revenge or to revile
     But always comes to reconcile;

     Her faithfulness and love to me
       As solid as a great oak tree,
    But soft to touch and warm to feel,
     I've often called it velvet steel.

     These are a few of my delights,
   A taste of what my wife ignites.
   Now answer this: when I indulge
    My joy this way does it divulge
     A miserly, self-centered bent
     Or that my wife is excellent?
    My answer does in this consist:
      I am a Christian Hedonist.
     When I would magnify Noel
   Then let me all my pleasures tell.

      I hope that now it is not odd
    When I say, So it is with God.
His goodness shines with brightest rays
   When we delight in all his ways.
       His glory overflows its rim
     When we are satisfied in him.
     His radiance will fill the earth
    When people revel in his worth.
     The beauty of God's holy fire
 Burns brightest in the heart's desire.

   And if you ask, Do my delights
In wife and sons compete with heights
 Of joy in God, here's what I've seen,
 A prayer from wise Saint Augustine:

  Our love for Thee is far too small
    Who love another thing at all,
 Unless from Thy pure hand we take
And love it for Thine own name's sake.

   So may the Spirit's holy flame
  Ignite in us for God's great name
    A holy passion, zeal and fire
   That magnify Him with desire.
     I hail Him as my joy in life,
And take from his pure hand my wife.

                Johnny

								
To top