in bad times, remaining cheerful is a religious duty
Dale Turner Nov 24,2001
Sept. 11, the newspapers report an increase of people who have
experienced depression. Many are moving through life downcast
and dispirited, feeling that there are only dire, prospects for the
old man with more insight than learning said, "My eyes are
getting troublesome, I shall have to go to an optimist." That is
the need of many. There is no point in living each day with the
spirit of doom and gloom. Certainly it is not the attitude of those
in the Christian faith, but unfortunately there are many Christians
who do not understand this.
Christian religion is more persistent and widespread than the notion
that Christianity is chiefly concerned with negatives. Many believe
you must give up your pleasures, your happiness and freedom of
thought and action and then you are entering the religious life.
people think of religion as a long list of negatives to be
countersigned and gloomily lived by a series of prohibitions
to which they must subscribe.
poets, philosophers and painters are partly to blame for this false
emphasis. Goethe, the German philosopher wrote: "Christianity is
the religion of sorrow." The poet Swinbume, missing the mark as
hast conquered, pale Galilean The world has grown gray with
thy breath. "
not been without fault. How many,
if any, pictures have you seen of Jesus smiling?
someone objects, Jesus was a man of sorrows and acquainted with
grief. He spoke of self denial and he said, "My soul is
exceeding sorrowful even unto death." True, but there is no
conflict between Jesus, man of sorrows, and Jesus, man of
joy. Joy and sorrow are not antagonistic. They both spring from the
same capacity for deep response, feeling and sensitivity.
is perfectly clear that the dominating theme of the New Testament is
joy. The very word gospel means "good news.
Templeton suggests that one of the reasons goodness has fallen into
such disrepute is the counterfeits that are passed off in its name.
You know and I know that some so called "good people"
are just plain bores, the kind of people whose religion is feigned
and unnatural, the kind you duck when you see them coming.
know the type; their lives are like Christmas trees, with the
ornaments tied on the outside for show, but dead. There is no real
internal beauty. We have all met them, "the noble order of mate
removers and neighbor judgers, those self appointed guardians of
public morality, those everlasting inspectors of warts and
carbuncles, with noses always in other people's business and
with free and unsought advice for all.
greatest foe of Christianity is not atheism, agnosticism or even
communism, as commonly supposed, but men and women who, having
entered the religious life, have never had religion enter them
enough to make them joyful, radiant and attractive people. They
have only enough religion to make them miserable.
chief enemy of real goodness is not badness, but repellant
caricatures of goodness.
miss the joys of life not because they never find them, but because
they never stop to enjoy them.
is no religious duty we so much underrate as the duty of being
religious person should be a joy bearing agent; by being
pleasant we sow anonymous benefits upon the world that remain
unknown even to ourselves or, when they are disclosed, surprise
nobody so much as the benefactor. Just as one great tide lifts
every boat in the bay the small boats and the great ships
so does, one radiant life bring buoyancy and lift to the
whole of society.
true joy and serenity that all can come to know and share does not
reveal itself as a raucous, backslapping, glad handing
artificial goodwill, but a pleasantness that makes us fit to
live with. A well known prayer is encouragement to that
give me sympathy and sense And help me keep my courage high
give me calm and confidence And Please, a twinkle in my eye.