The Heart of the Unexamined Life

I was cheered by the scorn for the Northland ‘heart’ expressed in that dubious resort: the IRM (a place of declining entertainment value, alas, which in these latter days has stooped so far as even to link to me). And not without reason. That heart is not so much characterized by any object of its affection, but as a passionate subject: capacious, undiscriminating, passionate, did we say passionate? and definitely just awesome for loving on people, on Geezus, on the lost, on mission, on camping, on Northland, or Northland’s alumni with so much heart, on Grammy nominated rap artists-for-lack-of-a-better-term, on random stuff, and perhaps even on big Al Mohler. If Roger Scruton is right to say that sentimentality is when the perceiving subject eclipses the object that should be in focus, then you have the Northland heart.

About the Northland heart, you have to understand: that was its product. That is what people went there to get, what we* paid for and what people gave to, and what the people working there thought they were striving to impart. There is Scripture to back the idea of the heart being of all things the most important; it is a proper object of care and should be guarded with attention.

I doubt it was too much scrupulous attention to the heart that was the problem though. It is an object of care, but not of satisfaction, and as an object of satisfaction is how it becomes sickening for those who get weary of hearing about it. It’s always a problem to deal frivolously with what you need to take seriously, obvious as that may seem. It is hard on the heart. A search for ordinate affections will be eclipsed by attention to the magnitude of the organ’s increasingly random effusions. If you use the word serious and behave like a clown and never let up, what are people looking to you for direction bound to conclude? That seriousness is just intensity of any kind, however excited. And if they don’t fall for it, they will at least stop looking up to you when it comes to what it serious.

But here is where I will agree with Northland, in name they had the target right. In an age of practicalities and merely utilitarian considerations, when even those who offer Latin talk about its utility and so undermine what they’re offering, when remote, permanent, transcendent are no longer criteria for what you teach, it would be good not to throw the heart out just because Northland has made it an embarrassment. Jesus Christ is coming to look upon it, and to see exactly what it is that you desire, and to give it to you.

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*I didn’t go there for the heart, but there’s no reason for you to believe me. We are responsible for our choices, and going to Northland was a choice I made.

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