Monday, September 21, 2009

Against Happiness

Once a Protestant church was a place where one would grow to understand his severe optical limitations in comparison with the infinite vision of a ubiquitous deity, a God whose centre is everywhere and circumference nowhere. Now, at least in my eyes, the numerous churches devoted to Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, Lutherans and the like are basically happiness companies, corporations that focus on how one can achieve blessedness while living in this world. In the pews and pulpits, contrition has turned trite, and contentment has become the given. The blessed gaze of those striding from the aisles to the vestibule is inspiring to behold. The firm farewell handshake between the minister and his parishioner is a sacred seal, a bond: stay happy until next week, for God has planned for you to prosper, if only you will pray over your repasts and tithe your earnings.

...we are beginning to see that this American quest for happiness at any cost is not merely a pastime, an occasional undertaking. We are starting to realize that this push for earthly bliss is at the core of the American soul.

from Against Happiness, by Eric G Wilson, pp 19-21, Sarah Crichton Books, 2008

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