More confirmation of my continuing admiration of Blaise Pascal…
From Carl R. Trueman at First Things:
Pascal observed the problem in seventeenth-century France when he saw the obsession with entertainment as the offspring of the fallen human desire to be distracted from any thought of mortality. “I have often said that the sole cause of man’s unhappiness is that he does not know how to stay quietly in his room,” he said. And: “Distraction is the only thing that consoles us for miseries, and yet it is itself the greatest of our miseries.”
Trueman really captures what we miss when our focus centers on avoidance and sentimentalization of the reality of the tragic. Please take the time to read his article Tragic Worship.
The Psalm reads
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil,”
and it does not stop there, as it goes on
“for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”
Happy, clappy distraction does NOT sustain. In the end it can only strain the frailty of our resolve until it snaps unsupported by the truth of the tragic.
On the other hand, God is with us all along the valley of the shadow. Only He removes the fear of evil. Only He bestows comfort. Only His grace lasts. Distractions are – at best – sugar candies.