Thursday, May 17, 2012

No Catholic Happy-o-Meter?

Gregory Wolfe, in his essay "Ever Ancient, Ever New: The Catholic Writer in the Modern World":
By the end of the novel, Sebastian and Cordelia are also living stunted and sad lives. But, as happens so often in the fiction of Evelyn Waugh, a throwaway phrase contains the core of the novel’s meaning: “happiness doesn’t seem to have much to do with it.” 
For Waugh, the notion that the life of faith ought to lead inevitably to worldly prosperity and what the pop psychologists call “wellness” is both unrealistic and dangerous. In a fallen world, afflicted by evil and stupidity, happiness can never be a gauge of fidelity to God. To think otherwise is to confuse happiness, with its bourgeois connotations of comfort and freedom from any burdens, with blessedness, or what Catholics call the “state of grace”. Catholics, Waugh believed, have always clung to the foot of the cross, profoundly and intuitively aware of what the Spanish philosopher Unamuno called “the tragic sense of life”.
Evelyn Waugh

As quoted in "Happiness Vs. Blessedness" by Ron Dreher (in The American Conservative)

H/T Wesley Hill's tumblr, writing in the dust

1 comment:

  1. That is a very interesting thought, Julie. It helps explain Brideshead a little more, and also sheds a little light on my interactions with the morose Irish. I've come to realize that perhaps Americans are unique in having such a strong sense of personal responsibility, even though that seems to be falling apart. I think we still strongly believe that our life is largely what we make of it, and that we owe it to ourselves to try to be as happy as we can. Maybe it's even our prime directive. ("Are you happy? Yes-->Keep doing what you're doing. No-->Do you want to be happy? No-->Keep doing what you're doing. Yes-->Change something.-->Are you happy? etc.) Thank you for posting!