Kill Joy #2 – Pragmatism. (From Rolheiser’s book Shattered Lantern)

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It’s not much of an overstatement to say that Americans worship the God of “pragmatism.” If it works, do it. Rolheiser believes, and I think accurately, that our drive for effectiveness and efficiency is pulling joy out of our lives. Here’s my take.

I have been a first hand victim of pragmatism. I’ve seen it at play in my life both from a financial standpoint, but more importantly relationally. I think that is where it effects us most. It’s difficult to live in a relational world. That is, I think, intentional on God’s part. I think he means for life to be difficult but certainly not impossible when it comes to relationships. It is through the very struggle of relating to others that we grow stronger as human beings, and ultimately as spiritual beings.

If pragmatism is god… and relationships are where pragmatism is most practiced… then I think the use of anger is one of the most exalted altars on which we make our heathen sacrifices. Think of the ways people use anger to get things done… and we do it because, quite frankly, it works.

Violence, passive aggression, manipulation. All pragmatic expressions. Getting what we want through emotional manipulation.

The result is that we miss out on the joy of being who God intended us to be at peace. We also miss out on the joy of letting others be who God made them to be. I have to admit, between narcissism, this one (pragmatism) and what I’ll address in the third post (unbridled restlessness), I think pragmatism has me hammered more than the others.

What about you? How have you seen pragmatism at work in your world? What would life be like if we let God be God instead of “what works”?