There are some experiences in life which when we look back a year or two later, we would, retrospectively, call them ‘Good times’. There are even fewer instances where we are relatively care-free and experience something good and on the way home or just after we enter our homes, we know that they were ‘good times’. Tonight, my first Rodeo experience, to me, was the ‘good times’ of the second kind. I was fortunate to have been able to go to the Rodeo with my good Christian friends at the GBC. Thanks to the Rodeo Badges they got. So here at 2:00 am, back at my home, I sit crystallizing the quintessential part of that experience in ‘words’. ‘Words’ are important to me.
I wish to expound on the words ‘good times’. First the word ‘good’… I am reading St. Augustine’s ‘Confessions’. So I am led to look at the word ‘good’ using the Augustinian lens. As per St. Augustine’s world-view, there are two types of good(s) – the lower good(s) and the higher good(s). The lower good(s) are the good(s) that are in the earthly realms, contained within the physical realities of life – the sights and the sounds and the movements. The higher good(s) are in the heavenly realms, that transcend the physical realities. St. Augustine’s seminal idea, I believe is that an ‘ordinate’ experience of the lower goods would point us towards the higher goods and help us experience the highest of the higher goods, which is, having a relationship with God.
This idea I think, was beautifully encapsulated in the song ‘Hello World’ that was sung by Lady Antebellum at the concert in the Rodeo. Before singing this song, there was a special introduction, that this song was very special to the singers in the band. To put it bluntly, that song exuded with theism. Oh, I loved it. My mind was racing as I was enthralled by the lyrics. It is about a guy/girl with a ‘broken heart of steel’ despairing over the pointlessness of life. Then he/she finds ‘meaning’ in the smile of a little girl with chocolate on her face. He/she then finds deeper ‘meaning’ in his home and his family – wife/husband and kids. This ‘unfurls’ his/her faith. And the song ends with his/her falling on his/her knees in a ‘believing surrender’ to the One above.
The essence of this song, the way I see it through the Augustinian lens is that, the little things in life, like the blissful smile of a little girl and the heavier things of life like the assurance of life that comes with home and hearth are the ‘lower good(s)’of life which give meaning in the midst of our despair. And then through the assurance of this ‘meaning in spite of darkness’, the lower good(s) help us to exercise our faith and look up above and reach up and surrender to the ‘greatest good’ – God.
Now, the phrase ‘good times’ needs some exposition, because standing alone, the phrase makes only an illusionary sense of goodness. There is a popular saying, “When the real God arrives, the half-gods flee”. But C.S. Lewis, in his book ‘Four Loves’, says that the opposite is the truth. He says, “When the real God arrives, only then, the half-gods can stay”. The ‘good times’ we experience are like the half-gods. They can only make sense only if we have the assurance of a real God who promises eternal good. In other words, if we do not have the assurance of being with God, in this life and the next, then all the ‘good times’ we experience in this life is as non-sensical as setting the board to have some good-times by playing one last game of poker on the deck of the sinking Titanic. It is only when we have the assurance of enjoying the ‘real’ good times, eternally with God, will we truly be able to enjoy these half-good-times in this world. Good-times aren’t good-times without God-time in our life.
I had some ‘good times’ this evening, I thank God for them. They are just half-good. The real good is in the relationship with God. These half-good-times are just a fore-taste of the real good-times we will eternally celebrate with the Eternally Good One. May God be eternally praised.