Junior Ganymede
We endeavor to give satisfaction

The Burning Glory of Meaning

November 21st, 2017 by The Junior Ganymede

Meaning has been a theme on the winds the last few years.


The great danger of modern society is not so much that it pushes us toward evil—though it does—but that it sucks us into its unreflective, myopic, consumerist frame.  The popular understanding is that this is “bad because it leads us to sin,” but now I understand that blinding us is one of the primary aims, not merely a tactic. 


How much meaning do small events carry?   Is a chance encounter on a train foreordained, or simply one in a random stream of events?  Is there such a thing as coincidence?   And here is the real question: which do we hope, and why?


The conclusion I have arrived at is that we can live at different levels of meaning.  We can see ourselves as players in a great cosmic drama where all is knit together, worlds without end, or as nobodies in nowhere.  We can assign eternal significance to our daily actions, or treat them as not that important one way or another.


The chief virtue of the meaningless life is that it is relatively painless, at least in the acute sense.  There are no great tragedies, because there’s nothing to lose.


Meaning brings pains as well as glories.  Understanding the potential for heroism in our smallest actions also means acknowledging the possibility (and reality) of the gulf between who we are and who we ought to be.


Repentance hurts because it first involves de-anesthetizing ourselves and coming to the realization that our bad actions are, in fact, “that bad.”  But this is an unavoidable consequence of taking ourselves seriously enough to not flinch when told the Lord wants us to be kings and queens, priests and priestesses.


I have an intuition that one of the chief differences between the degrees of glory is the meaning we assign to our existence.  The celestial is the stuff of legend, a life larger than life.  The telestial may in comparison simply be a very pleasant but vacuous resort.


So the question becomes: how much meaning can we stand?  How important do we want our actions to be?


Guest post from SPDI

Comments (6)
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November 21st, 2017 06:39:09

November 21, 2017

Really excellent. Of course hell can’t escape being tinged with hellishness because we can never quite forget that our choice to avoid meaning was itself meaningful.

This line is key. “Understanding the potential for heroism in our smallest actions also means acknowledging the possibility (and reality) of the gulf between who we are and who we ought to be.” You don’t understand the horror of the Fall until you understand what you were meant for. You can’t imagine God being petty and spiteful. You can’t imagine Jesus watching porn videos and gorging on Doritos. But that is you. You are that bright angel, wasting his glory on the couch in front of his TV.

Bruce Charlton
November 21, 2017

Very good – interestingly, I thought it was by G, until I saw the comment

November 22, 2017

C.S. Lewis, in his book, The Four Loves:

“But in Friendship, being free of all that, we think we have chosen our peers. In reality, a few years’ difference in the dates of our births, a few more miles between certain houses, the choice of one university instead of another, posting to different regiments, the accident of a topic being raised or not raised at a first meeting—any of these chances might have kept us apart. But, for a Christian, there are, strictly speaking, no chances. A secret Master of the Ceremonies has been at work. Christ, who said to the disciples “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you,” can truly say to every group of Christian friends “You have not chosen one another but I have chosen you for one another.” The Friendship is not a reward for our discrimination and good taste in finding one another out. It is the instrument by which God reveals to each the beauties of all the others. They are no greater than the beauties of a thousand other men; by Friendship God opens our eyes to them. They are, like all beauties, derived from Him, and then, in a good Friendship, increased by Him through the Friendship itself, so that it is His instrument for creating as well as for revealing.”


November 22, 2017

Elder Rasband said the same thing this past conference:


Bruce Charlton
November 22, 2017

I’ve linked this post from my ‘Notions’ blog…

Wm Jas
November 22, 2017

I thought this was “G” at first, too!

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