I haven’t written on here in ages. Anymore, it feels like nearly all of my creative faculties are directed toward sermons, the occasional class and random documents evangelizing infant baptism in a culture that’s afraid of things appearing too Roman.
But, I’m in San Diego, at a strange coffee shop and I’ve been craving the time to sit down and just write- say something stupid and then attempt to be profound. It’s a desire that I’ve been neglecting because there’s the gym, food prep, relationships, all kinds of things that I should be doing, things that I desire to do and I’ve just let them take priority over doing this. But today, I have nothing planned until lunch, a treat that doesn’t come often these days.
In Augustine’s City of God, he writes about rightly ordered loves. There are things that we ought to love, and things we ought not. But do we? To the degree they demand of us? Of course, the greatest good, the most praiseworthy is going to be God. He deserves the best of our affections, first and foremost, without at a doubt. I’d argue that spouses come next, then children- yes, in that order. You want secure kids? Show them how stable your home is by loving your spouse first. The state won’t take them away, because if your love is ordered properly, they’ll come next. Loving your kids will come as an expression of love for the one who helped you produce them. Unless you married a sociopath. Then all bets are off.
We could continue to pretend to be academic about this, but I really want to know where my love for writing and for cheese come into the mix here. What about my desire to be on the beach? My blatant adoration of weird music?
Couldn’t keep it classy, could you, Jake? Augustine basically argues that rightly ordered loves are a virtuous thing. City of God isn’t the easiest read for this guy, so I can’t recall if it’s virtue itself or a product of it. No matter. I just want to be told that I love the right things without having to make any changes. Which means I need you to lie to me because no person is in that boat. Or at least, not entirely. Until I die, I’ll argue that even the best of us has something out of order.
What’s the impact of rightly ordered loves? Does it just mean that everything is working together like a well-oiled machine and there’ll be no problems? If that’s the case, then our love and desire are far too weak because nothing around here is working like a machine. We’re like a wounded animal limping along and every now and again we get the adrenaline to do something explosive and energetic before falling down again. I’m an optimist.
Can my love for cheese and writing bring something good into the world? Can your love for cinnamon rolls and gardening do the same? Yes, they can. Mine might do more if I’d bothered to mature a bit more, but all in due time. These can bring order into a broken world because if you’re a Jesus-person like me, He puts these things in their place. I’ll try to be winsome and witty about my walk with the Lord, and I’ll be honest about the Church. We’ll share our favorite foods and meals with friends and loved ones. With the help of God and nature and science, you can draw beauty up from a patch of dirt and God gets the glory because nature and science and you all belong to him.
So we love. If we have it right, we do so with abandon. Sometimes, other loves will take priority and you’ll neglect your blog for months and months and you’ll secretly be bummed about it in the back of your mind, but that’s okay. Blogs require less attention than spouses and children and churches, and you only think they’re mad at you for not writing. Which, it’s funny because it isn’t the blog, but the readers. What’s a blog without readership? The people definitely go if neglected. But here I am, loving it anyway.