Monday, July 31, 2006

lonely hearts club band?

You gotta have friends.

That's the byline of the article by Robert Putnam from the July 3 edition of Time magazine. I agree wholeheartedly. How can one get by without a little help from one's friends?
The subtitle reads: A study finds that Americans are getting lonelier. Mr. Putnam cites this study (which found a one-third drop in the number of people with whom the average American can discuss "important matters") to further his case that "the fabric of American communities has frayed badly since the mid-1960's."

Ah, look at all the lonely people. Where do they all come from? (Don't ask Paul McCartney, who just filed for divorce from his second wife. Just because one poetically posed the question doesn't mean one has the answer.) Disenfranchised, drained of passion, sated with processed food and processed education, racking up untold hours of video games and online drivel; here is the show-room of mainstream America. The more we gorge ourselves on the rich cream of excess, the more we atrophy within because of lack of bonefide relationships. The laptop has sindle-handedly trumped the place of the family pet, a good book (or even the Good Book!) read hearthside, the stack of satisfying firewood won by the sweat of honest brow, and plain, old-fashioned reflection. All of which are good things; none of which can fill the place of human affection and conversation, anyway. As a society, we are bereft of much.

I quote Mr. Putnam:
"Social isolation has many well-documented side effects. Kids fail to thrive. Crime rises. Politics coarsens. Generousity shrivels. Death comes sooner (social isolation is as big a risk factor for premature death as smoking). Well-connected people live longer, happier lives, even if they have to forgo a new Lexus to spend time with friends."

Yesterday's sermon encouraged me. I am blessed to be part of a healthy God-centered community that, despite our foibles and fickle failures, delights in giving. Giving financially, yes. But it is in the giving of our time, talents, prayer, efforts, home-cooked meals and our very selves that a healthy community is built. The Apostle Paul said it so eloquently:
"Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food, will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness;
you will be enriched in everything for all liberality, which through us is producing thanksgiving to God." (2 Cor 9:11-12)

The sickness of loneliness that pervades our world needs a dose of strong medicine, and the Church ladles it by out by generous spoonfuls. The antidote is in the act of giving. Usher the lonely in; there is room for them here. After receiving, they will learn to pour out because the cure is in the overflow. We can point to the greatest Giver as our example; He so loved that He gave. Mother Theresa knew this principle well; she instructed her followers to give until it hurts. One of the greatest speeches of the 20th century was given by her at a National Prayer Breakfast, well worth reading. She patterned her giving after God, who sacrificed His beloved Son. Imagine! We can serve a God Who wants to give, and longs for us to do the same. This is an altogether different club and different band than the one of Beatles Fame.

"Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!" (2 Cor 9:15)


Post a Comment

<< Home