If Descartes (the philosopher) was right when he declared, “I think, therefore I am,” then I am doomed. Because I can barely think about anything these days. My imagination is waning, my creativity has come to a screaming halt and my pleasures have been reduced to junk food vices that are taking their toll. Believe me! Which means if I am unable to think then I may not actually be.
My latest read, “You Are What You Love” by James K. A. Smith takes Descartes’ philosophical conclusion and sheds a far deeper and richer light upon it. Hint: it’s in the name of the book. Basically it goes something like this: I love, therefore I am.
Smith’s thesis is that it’s not just intellect alone that defines who we are, but what we love that drives us to our purpose. For, we often have a tremendous amount more knowledge than we actually apply to our lives. For example, I know that the chocolate donut that I ate for breakfast this morning with my creamer filled coffee had zero nutritional value, but I ate in anyway. And, in full disclosure, I ate one yesterday for breakfast too. It could be that I am eating my feelings, but that’s not the point! The point is, I know that it is not a wise choice of calories and I know that it will not serve me in the long run, yet I still eat it. Why? Because it’s easy, it’s most enjoyable and it satisfies the rebel in me. None of those reasons are wise. They just are what they are.
Merely, having the knowledge to make a better choice does not mean that I will. Therefore, what I think I know, is often times ignored in my actions. Which also means that if my intellect defines who I am, then I am a compulsive, lazy, rebellious, junk food junky. Although this may be true for the moment, I am reminded that I am also made in the image of a mighty and creative God. So somewhere deep inside of me, there is more to the description of ‘who I am.’ At least, there had better be or else I have just stumbled upon the realization that I’m living the most shallow of existences and one that appears to have no telos (purpose or end goal).
2020 has surely proven to be a most unorthodox year which has revealed so very many things. I’m currently resisting the urge to let this post go political in nature and will just say that I think we can all agree that it would be nice to get back to the time when the biggest source of contention in our lives was which team you would be rooting for: Georgia or Georgia Tech. Oh, the good ol’ days. However, here we are: face masks, viruses, shutdowns, guidelines, social distancing, distant learning, protests, riots, violence, and dare I say politics. But the worst of all is the power that I have handed over to the media to have it’s way with my mind, my heart, my beliefs, my relationships and my life. Can I get a witness? No? This is one time I hope that I’m alone in what I’m experiencing.
With all the doom and gloom, doing anything worthwhile has seemed meaningless. I mean if the world is coming to an end soon, why would I begin anything new? A business, a project, a painting, a sculpture, a band, a small group or even a blog? I mean who would read it anyway, unless I write about hot topics like Kenosha or Pizza Gate or Mandatory Vaccines?
There I go again. My thoughts are talking me out of doing what I should do, rather than prompting me to do those worthwhile things I know I should be doing. Oh wait! This sounds familiar doesn’t it? That silly Paul.
I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do…Romans 7:15-16
If an ant stops being an ant, what would it be?
You see, it’s telos is set. The ant never questions why it is here. It knows. And it never stops working for that telos.
Did you know that ants actually have a purpose? They turn and aerate the soil, allowing water and oxygen to reach plant roots. They also help with seed dispersal by taking seeds down into their tunnel to eat part of the seed. They also prey on other pests that can be damaging to gardens and crops.
It’s just a guess, but I suspect ants will continue doing their thing until the end of time, because it is what they are supposed to do.
What does this have to do with thinking and loving and identity and telos? If James K. A. Smith is right and we are what we love, then we must continue to chase after the desires of our hearts no matter what. Not the urges of the flesh. The desires of our hearts.
Take Delight in the Lord, and HE will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalms 37:4).
I have almost forgotten why I am here. I have been derailed and distracted. As justified as that may be in 2020, feasting on the things of this world have zero nutritional value. I am not making a wise choice of what I am feeding my soul and these choices will not serve me in the long run. I have forgotten what I love. I have forgotten who I am.
I am a writer. I am an artist. I am a creative. These are the desires of my heart that lead me to my telos (my purpose)…
to glorify God.
I have not completed this book yet and I suspect it will inspire more posts before I have done so. But, for now, here is my challenge to you:
What do you love?
What makes you come alive?
What feeds your soul?
Let’s continue the discussion! I want to hear from you!