Not Cute.

Today I received a package in the mail from one of my church friend ladies. She has been sending me little cards and stuff for just over a year now. I really appreciate what she does, and what she sends me. Today she included a little booklet: “Kitty Wisdom: Words to Inspire Your Inner Felines of Happiness.” I will never tell her, but I think these are frivolous on the verge of hypocrisy. I have included an excerpt of a book I think everyone should read. (the excerpt and the book both). He talks about the prevalence of the substitution of slogans for real, true, deep wisdom.

Dallas Willard “The Divine Conspiracy”

In the shambles of fragmented assurances from the past, our longing for goodness and righteousness and acceptance—and orientation—makes us cling to bumper slogans, body graffiti, and gift shop nostrums that in our profound upside-down-ness somehow seem so deep but in fact make no sense: “Stand up for your rights” sounds so good. How about “all I ever needed to know I learned in kindergarten”? And “Practice random kindnesses and senseless acts of beauty”? And so forth.

Such sayings contain a tiny element of truth. But if you try to actually plan your life using them you are immediately in deep, deep trouble. They will head you 180 degrees in the wrong direction. You might as well model your life on Bart Simpson or Seinfeld. But try instead “Stand up for your responsibilities” or “I don’t know what I need to know and must now devote my full attention and strength to finding out” (Consider Prov. 3:7 or 4:7) or “Practice routinely purposeful kindnesses and intelligent acts of beauty.”

Putting these into practice immediately begins to bring truth, goodness, strength, and beauty into our lives. But you will never find them on a greeting card, plaque, or bumper. They aren’t though to be smart. What is truly profound is thought to be stupid and trivial, or worse. Boring, while what is actually stupid and trivial is thought to be profound. […]

All that is really profound in the cute wisdom is the awesome need of the soul to which they incoherently respond. We sense the incoherence lying slightly beneath the surface, and we find the incoherence and lack of fit vaguely pleasing and true to life: What is the point of standing up for rights in a world where few stand up for their responsibilities? Your rights will do you little good unless others are responsible. And does one learn in kindergarten how to attract people and make a lot of money by writing books assuring people they already know all they need to know to live well? And how do you practice something that is random? Of course you can’t. What is random may hit you, but whatever is purposely done is certainly not random. And no act of beauty is senseless, for the beautiful is never absurd. Nothing is more meaningful than beauty. 

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