What Netflix Cannot Give — and Death Cannot Take

Desiring God | 10/15/2018 | Samuel James
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Joy is dangerous.

Flannery O’Connor understood this. A southern Catholic novelist, O’Connor earned renown as one of the most compelling American storytellers of the 20th century. Her fiction sweats with realism and the striving for meaning and joy. O’Connor, like her contemporaries Dorothy Sayers, Graham Greene, and C.S. Lewis, criticized the militant secularism of the 20th century and spoke life into literary culture’s slough of despond.

Always - Opposite - Sin - Struggle - Struggle

Always you renounce a lesser good for a greater; the opposite is what sin is. . . . [W]hat you call my struggle to submit [is] not struggle to submit but a struggle to accept and with passion. I mean, possibly, with joy. Picture me with my ground teeth stalking joy — fully armed too as it’s a highly dangerous quest.

Always you renounce a lesser good for a greater. O’Connor might as well have been prophetically paraphrasing Jim Elliot: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” More likely her imagination was captivated by the apostle Paul, who counted everything he had gained in a life of privilege and distinction “rubbish” when compared to the “surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Philippians 3:8–9).

O'Connor - Paul - Jim - Elliot - Meant

What O’Connor, and Paul, and Jim Elliot all meant is that the struggle in our souls is not the struggle to want to be happy. We are born with that desire, and we die with it (even in suicide). The struggle is to see the true worth of everything, and in seeing, to give ourselves headlong to what is supremely worthy and satisfying: God.

But that’s dangerous.

O'Connor - Word - Picture - Paragraph - Joy

O’Connor’s word picture in this paragraph is striking. She imagines that quest for joy in Christ is like the long, hot hunt of a game animal, a creature that may lead its stalker into harsh territory. No buck will...
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