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The Castrating Quest of Morality

Friday, March 10, 2006

My decision to read more non-fiction has brought me to a book I’ve had on my shelf for a while and never read. “Journey of Desire” by John Eldridge. I’m only halfway through and already I am feeling incredibly challenged to continue on this path to resisting complacency. The book discusses Passion and talks about the common quest of many Christians to be more moral - to do what’s right and the resulting loss of desire, loss of passion. It took me couple of chapters to figure out what Eldridge was talking about but then he caught my attention with this quote, “How can we hunger and thirst after righteousness if we have ceased hungering and thirsting altogether? As C.S. Lewis says ‘We castrate the gelding and bid him be fruitful.” Aside from being an awesome C.S. Lewis quote it has really made me think about where I’ve been focusing my attention lately and where my passions (if any at all) lie.

I have been on this quest - this typical Christian quest - to do what’s right, to be a nice person, to be a moral person. And in the process of pursuing these goals (that I have set for myself) I have actually become stale, torpid, and lethargic. I have become lazy and void of passion. I have had this focus lately on being nice, inoffensive, and moral - as a result I have become just that nice = careful or fine, inoffensive = dull or bland, and moral = proper and right. Sure doesn’t sound exciting. Yes, there is a place for me to try and be a “good” person but not at the sacrifice of being dull, bland, or careful. I need to be passionate, enthusiastic, and eager first - then I can properly pursue righteousness with the passion of a child that pursues a bag of candy in the grocery store - unashamed of what he looks like during his tantrum.

People used to know me as a passionate person (my parents new me as that child I just described). I wasn’t afraid of a tantrum (not only as a child - even though I was really good at it then). I was unafraid to speak my mind and to speak it with enthusiasm. I didn’t worry about what I looked like when I was passionate about something. What’s happened to me?

I think that a piece of it has to do with my disappointment with the passions I’ve had being stifled. But I think the bigger reason is that I wanted to be a “mature Christian”. The problem is, I had mixed up what maturity looks like. In my mind maturity was this strong, immovable, unwavering person (which may not be far from the truth) but somewhere along the line I forgot about the driving force behind that strength - passion for God, thirst for righteousness, and desire for a deeper relationship with Christ. John Eldridge says this about maturity. “We hide our true desire and call it maturity. Jesus is not impressed. He points to the less sophisticated attitude of a child as a better way to live.” I ought to cry more, beg for what I want more, I ought to desire more - not less, I ought to be PASSIONATE!

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  1. Blogger Jared | 1:49 PM |  

    thanks you very much for the words that you said dave. they are good things to be thinking about and i know for a fact that everyone forgets them sooner or later. i know i have done that in the past. the part that hit home for me the most was the last quote you added from Eldridge. i too need to read that book

  2. Blogger Jim Carey | 2:04 PM |  

    You have never really lost your passion son. You have just become more mellow over the years and one would never find you dull or lazy. You simply need a change of focus in my opinion. You face lots of challenges every day but a new focus with new and different challenges might rekindle some of the raw passion lurking within.

  3. Blogger Dave | 2:41 PM |  

    Thanks Jared - I’m glad it has meant something to you - it's a good book so far - I hope you enjoy it!

  4. Blogger Dave | 3:08 PM |  

    Dad, you are right - I have mellowed and that’s the problem - my pursuit after God has diminished. Your also right that I need a change in focus needs to be on a passionate relationship with God rather than simply being a "good person" or doing waht is "right"

    Everyone needs down times but when it comes to matters of the heart - where passions lie - that fire, that passion needs to be fueled and fed. If you read my last post you will understand that what I am talking about is becoming complacent. I had worked so hard on my own agenda of making myself a "good person" and doing what is "right" that I forgot to feed that fire in my heart - subsequently stifling my passions. My quest needs to be (and will be now) for Passion first.

  5. Blogger Nick Boschman | 3:15 PM |  

    Dave, I think that one thing that I myself equate improperly is speaking out with the fear/danger of hurting other people's feelings. That fear is something that prevents me from speaking out at times, and although it is important to be sensitive to the effect that one's words/passion/actions have on other's, there needs to be a balance (it's finding that balance that's the tricky part).
    I've seen your passion during missions trip and through YAC, your desire to serve God is very evident...those '24' nights are pretty fun too.

  6. Blogger Dave | 4:52 PM |  

    Thanks for the encouragement Nick - I think that your right that there needs to be a balance and being respectful and nice to others is important as well. The problem most of us have is that we lean too far into the careful and not far enough into the passion. I think we get too bogged down with what people think about us and in the process of trying to be a "good person" we forget/loose our passion.

    As far as speaking out is concerned I think the balance is much more touchy when it comes to words but I'm not sure passions always need to be evidenced by words. In fact I think they need to be far more evidenced by a persons actions and life in general. I think people are less offended personally by our actions and the way we choose to live our life then they are by our words.

    But do/can we live our lives with enough passion to make an impact on others.
    -> 1Peter 3:15 - when's that last time you've been asked about your hope - I don't think I've ever been asked.

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