Questioning Eutrepalia (or am I?)--The Honk and Holler Opening Soon

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The second book by Billie Letts (the interview at the end suggests that there may be a movie coming soon on this one as well). Pretty much second verse same as the first. Quirky characters come together in the small Oklahoma town of Sequoyah--In this case a paraplegic Vietnam War Vet, a Creek/Crow Indian, a Mother of a disruptive teenage daughter (same age as Noralee Nation in the first book), a Vietnamese man who is earning money for his wife to move over from Vietnam, etc.

The Honk and Holler Opening Soon is the centerpiece around which these characters convene, emote, and general make mayhem and community for one another.

The prose is smooth, unblemished. The characters nearly uniformly likeable. The bad guy immediately identifiable, and though Letts tries to humanize him through his trauma, he is still one you hope gets what's coming to him.

And while I enjoyed and do recommend this book almost as much as the previous, I have to admit that my first reaction upon finishing it was--"Why did I spend the time on that?" Not that it was a poor book or a poorly written book. But I have had impressed upon me lately the necessity of serving the Lord in ALL things. Now, before I continue, I don't want to say that the message that follows is for everyone. It is NOT. However, I think we could all profit by pondering some of the things I came to realize in the course of thinking about this book.

We all know that our span on Earth is strictly limited--none of us knows how long it will be. If the purpose of our life on Earth is to worship God, then all things in life should be directed to that purpose. Now, things are good in their measure. There is certainly no harm in reading things that give us pleasure (assuming that the pleasure is derived licitly from the reading--that is, it does not appeal to the prurient). However, is it enough?

I think early in the Christian journey all legitmate and licit pleasures are good and should be gratefully accepted. However, as we grow in the faith, it seems to me that the things we take pleasure in should also advance. That is, that while we might enjoy light reading at the start of our Christian career, as our lives move into conformity with God, we might move on from this legitimate interest to more profound things. Perhaps Scripture reading replaces some of the light reading we do. Perhaps reading of Christian classics, theology, and other spiritual helps begins to move in.

I guess I'm suggesting that as we become conformed to Christ we are becoming new people--those new people should not be quite so involved with the old things as they were.

I have said "we" here. What I really mean is "I." I felt a little cheated in reading a book so similar to another that I had recently read. But I also felt that I somehow cheated God of time that was more properly used in His service. For example, in the time that I read Honk and Holler I probably could have gotten through a chapter or so of Karl Barth's Epistle to the Romans. I could have read several chapters of one of the least dense books by von Balthasar that I've ever set eyes on--Two Sisters in the Spirit. I enjoy these things as much as I enjoy Billie Letts, but the perusal of these works is also more conducive to moving closer to where God wants me to be, or so it seems.

So, I'm not saying that I shouldn't enjoy things. Rather, I should pick among the very best things to enjoy. If I would have equal pleasure from Agatha Christie as from Walker Percy, but Percy would lead me to think more about God's kingdom, isn't it more proper to read Percy? If all other things are equal, shouldn't I always choose the path that lead more closely to God?

Now, sometimes this might well be Agatha Christie. Perhaps I am overloaded and need rest to become once again the person I need to be. I would think this would be the exception rather than the rule. More than this, I look at the lives of the great Saints who did not indulge a penchant for popular fiction (indeed St Teresa of Avila accused herself of foolish indulgence in the chivalrous Romances of her time). Surely these servants were also seeking God and experiencing His pleasures in their time.

So it leads me to wonder if our indulgence in these pass-times isn't sometimes also a way of avoiding deeper commitment. I know that it can sometimes be that way for me. The matter of how to spend my leisure time is one that I should spend a good deal more of my prayer time and meditation time regulating properly. If God is not at the center, even of those things that I do for pleasure and recreation, then they simply are not worthy of my time.

What do you all think?

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What you say strikes a chord of truth with me. I just don't know how far to take it. I took the test for "What Book of the Bible are You" and that was a real eye opener for how I view God (turns out I am the Book of Leviticus). I envy the people who truly believe in a loving God who isn't keeping tabs on every little thing we do.

But then Michael Brown of wrote an interesting piece on how we'd be surprised at what God is pleased with in our lives (on Monday, 7/26).

I agree that as we are more aware of God in our lives we want to spend our time in activities and thoughts that bring us closer to Him. Actually, I think what happens automatically is that our Spirit craves more and more of Him.

Yesterday, I said to myself, "I just want to get to Heaven" and that is why I experience emptiness and longing in my heart that only God can fill.

One added thought. Every once in awhile I run across a good book, movie or event where I have an absolutely delightful time that I definitely was blessed to experience. It is always something with wholesomeness and free of any serious sinfulness. I feel God wants me to remember that I live in the world and am to enjoy the gifts He has given people. I feel that it is a gift from God.



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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on July 25, 2004 5:53 PM.

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Prayer Requests 26 July 2004--Memorial of Sts. Joachim and Ann, parents of Our Lady is the next entry in this blog.

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