The Personalist Project

Comments (4)

Katie van Schaijik

#1, Apr 25, 2012 10:28am

Thanks for posting these thoughts, Dan.

I am pondering the question whether this is true, as a practical principle:

Living the Christian life, therefore, is living each moment with the consideration of how we can best sacrifice our own desires for the betterment of our neighbor.  

Does the Christian life really involve a constant consideration of how we can best sacrifice our own desires?  It doesn't seem so to me.  That seems too severe and unreal.  It seems like it could lead to a wrong sort of self-abnegation or puritanism.

But maybe I'm guilty of laxism.  I will think more.

Daniel Romeyn Davis

#2, Apr 25, 2012 12:01pm

Katie, 

I would clarify that it seems necessary that we must sacrifice our own desires until our desires are aligned to what is best for our neighbor.  It is severe, but I do not  believe that it leads to a sense of Puritanical hatred of oneself and one's desires.  

It is more about reforming our desires to conformity to God's will, out of an attitude of self-sacrificial love that puts the needs of our neighbor above our own personal needs.  I think that acceptance of this total self-giving of love to the other, as a reflection of Christ's love for humanity as demonstrated on the Cross, allows for one to be more perfectly free.  

I affirm that this sense of angst must exist though, because living in a way of total self-giving is nigh impossible.  Therefore, we must always confront ourselves with how we have failed to put our neighbor's needs before our own.  Although, this should not lead to a sense of fatalism, but rather, it should lead to a sense of interior freedom in our giving of the self to the will of God, in order to guide us better in the future.   

Teresa Manidis

#3, Apr 25, 2012 7:17pm

I would agree with Katie that this appears a bit harsh.

And I disagree that our Faith should keep us in a perpetual state of angst or anxiety.  Laxity and relativism are, clearly, wrong.  But it is only through an interpersonal, peaceful and loving relationship with Christ that I can then go forth and - through the superabundance of that blissful union - give to my brother.

Discomfort seems a poor substitute for this.

Devra Torres

#4, Apr 25, 2012 11:26pm

Daniel, thank you for writing about this.  Jacques Philippe has a wonderful book called Interior Freedom, and another much shorter one called Searching for and Maintaining Peace, which clarified this subject for me dramatically.  God doesn't want us to lose our peace--for one thing, if we do, we have no peace to offer to anyone else--but how can we be peaceful and at the same time live up to the command to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength AND our neighbor as ourself?  It's easy to set up a false dichotomy: EITHER I'm a conscientious, angst-ridden person, constantly striving to offer my best to God and my fellow man, OR I'm a lax, cheerful person who seems to be at peace but is actually out of touch with the truth about myself, God, and everyone else. Philippe untangles it all admirably.  

Maybe it's partly a semantic issue: "angst" doesn't sound like what I understand God to want for us, but there's still "devotion," "conscientiousness"...those don't really capture it, either, though.  Suggestions?

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