Monday, September 7, 2009

My Hedonistic Christianity

1. the doctrine that pleasure or happiness is the highest good.
2. devotion to pleasure as a way of life: The later Roman emperors were notorious for their hedonism.

When I think of hedonism, often the thought of some Caesarian, toga wearing king with an olive branch for a crown being fed grapes by semi-naked women. Which is not far off from the intention of the word, so I found it sort of odd as I ran this morning, reflecting on my mini-labourday-vacation that the term "Hedonistic Christianity" popped into my head.

I am not a stranger to hedonism, in the truest sense of the word. As a young man (well, youngER man) I would wake up, have an actors breakfast of coffee and cigarettes, and maybe some McDonalds, go to work, make crude jokes with the guys and laugh at inconsiquential things, then after work I would head to the bar or to a party, or go play a show and I would drink to my fill, often flirting with older women who might buy me a drink. I would get home at 3 in the morning, smoke another 3 cigarettes before going into the house and then fall asleep on my couch (I didn't do beds back then... I don't know why...) Then I would wake up in between 11 and 3 and do it all over again. Expensive? yes. Fun? yes. Satisfying? hmmm...

Sarah didn't have too much of a different youth than I did, in fact when we met part of the attraction was that we were both beautiful broken people.

Lately Sarah and I have become the couple who would rather watch Grey's Anatomy and go to bed at 11, a big change for us, but not nescesarilly a bad one. So when we were invited by some friends this weekend to go to a bar where there would be sexy dressed people, dancing and cigarettes, we were hesetant to agree, but something from our past started pulling us towards our old lifestyle. After much persistance we agreed to meet them at the bar later. Once we got home however we began talking about how, although we aren't opposed to going out once in a while, we didn't feel tonight was the night. We didn't want to be thrown into the same temptations of our old life, which although were fun, would ultimately leave us unsatisfied.

Needless to say our friends were disapointed by our no-show, and our phone call to let them no we weren't coming was met with more than a little animosity.

"I don't know why she's so mad..." Sarah said.

"She'll get over it." I said.

"I just wish she could realize that I've changed. I'm a little more conservative, but it's not that I'm a prude... My past speaks to that. I'm just... happier now."

That's probably where the seed for "Hedonistic Christianity" was first planted. If happyness is pleasurable, and being more conservative made us happy, then wouldn't the pursuit of that happiness be at it's basist level, a true act of hedonism? In which case the rejection of the pleasures most comonly associated with hedonism is actually the embrace of hedonism.

Romans 6:1-3
1What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? 3Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?

and it doesn't end there either! When you deny yourself to help others and you get a good feeling from that, that's also hedonism! In fact, I am most happy when full heartedly following the will of Christ! Which is a complete rejection of physical pleasure, and a complete rejection of self! An act of whole hearted love, which spreads like wild fire, and comes back to you. and when the love comes back to you that is another form of pure pleasure!

so I encourage you, reject the selfish hedonism of the past, embrace this new, selfless, wonderfull hedonsim. A hedonism that gives pleasure to all at it's most base and most complex forms. This wonderfull Christian Hedonism.

Matthew 25:40
40"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'

1 comment:

  1. I had a similar discussion about altruism. Someone was trying to find an example of it and I described when I was younger, trying to do good deeds without letting anyone know to see if I could stomach not getting recognition. People would just find their lives improved somehow and only I would know. I said that I felt pride in being able to do it, and he claimed that that made it not altruistic, I got something out of it.
    The only circumstance that definition of altruism could withstand would be someone doing something completely selfless and feeling absolutely nothing about it either way. I'm not sure who could do this. Except a robot.
    I think these arguments take us no where. When you micromanage intent, cause and effect to that level, there will always be some pleasure, and some pain involved, because we're human beings, and we're complex. Doesn't mean I can't believe in altruism. And it doesn't mean that Hedonism loses it's meaning, it means meaning in language is a fluid thing and you sometimes decide where the line is drawn and sometimes that actually creates the most captivating poetry.
    anyway, I stumbled on this blog today and I enjoy it! Let's provoke more conversation/thought!