Satisfied mind, ctd.

In general, people aren’t much interested in any answer you offer if they aren’t asking the question it answers. I spent a summer working with Mormon missionaries, and it was useless to argue scripture with them. But when we talked about how difficult it is to be perfectly good—something their religion requires, which worries them quite a bit—they were quite open to hearing that traditional Christianity has no such standard. In fact, the idea unnerved them.

Yesterday’s post about “Satisfied Mind” implied something that I’d like to make explicit. Everyone, believer and unbeliever, has wrestled with discontentment. Everyone knows that contentment is the goal. Many at least suspect that desire can’t be quenched by feeding it—just the opposite—but they know it can be quenched somehow, and that quenching it is key to a happy life.

The words of “Satisfied Mind” as originally written proclaim a truth many would agree with—true earthly wealth lies in contentment—but they say nothing about how to achieve it. The song leaves the listener with a question: where do you get this satisfied mind?

A believer knows, of course. And so I like it that in the first three minutes we explore ground common to all men, raising a question that concerns us all, then we end with a very brief statement (four words) of our answer. It isn’t designed to persuade. It is designed to get the listener to entertain a thought, namely that the singers have found contentment in Jesus. The ground is prepared, and then a seed is planted.

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2 thoughts on “Satisfied mind, ctd.

  1. As a Buddhist, I’ve always wondered why so many Christians have difficulty understanding Jesus. I sometimes rack it up to the Roman Empire and its need to control people, rather than set them free. Orthodox Christianity doesn’t seem to have the same hangups. This minister, Vigen Guroian, from the Armenian Orthodox tradition, makes a lot of sense to me. If I were to become a Christian again, I would explore the Eastern Orthodox traditions: http://being.publicradio.org/programs/2011/restoring-the-senses/

  2. I sometimes rack it up to the Roman Empire and its need to control people, rather than set them free.

    Agreed, mostly. Up until Constantine’s conversion Christianity was powerless—and at the same time an irresistible force, precisely because it offered freedom in place of control.

    If I were to become a Christian again, I would explore the Eastern Orthodox traditions.

    Plenty of engaged Christians have rejected Constantinianism by doing that. Others find their way out through Anabaptism. Others just stick it out, eating the fish and leaving the bones on the plate.

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