2 Samuel 11: 2,3,15 ; John 6: 12,13
Longing for more
Last week we talked about “rest.” This week we talk about “more. “ Maybe they are related. Perhaps the lectionary readings for today can direct us to taking a rest from “more.” My point is that the idea of “more” can be dangerous to our spiritual lives and that what we need to find what is the essential in our lives instead. Lewis Carroll in “Alice in Wonderland” records the following conversation: “Take some more tea,” the March Hare said to Alice, very earnestly. “I’ve had nothing yet,” Alice replied in an offended tone, “so I can’t take more.” “You mean you can’t take less,” said the Hatter: “it’s very easy to take more than nothing.” “Nobody asked your opinion,” said Alice.” Pat Cadigan, science fiction writer identified with what is called the cyber punk movement(“Angel who this?”) wrote: The universe doesn’t know good or bad, only less or more.” More or less in our society is a no-brainer, friends. It’s always more. We want more of everything because we are told we want more. If we look at all the self-storage places around the city that would certainly be a good argument there. We go into Cost plus and Sam “s Club and Smart and Final. So much in bulk. D.D. Gordon who works in the field of “trend spotting” for a company called Sterling Brands (PBS Newshour July 23, 2015) notices the following trends in society that have to do with more: first, people want more and more experiencing and if possible “hyper-experiences” where they can experience the media (i.e. virtual experiences). Second people want to share more and more of their experiences which they then document through what she calls “life-framing:” facebook, Instagram, etc. There is now even a site called . “Instasham.” That is site where you can download pictures of beautiful and cool places and trendy people enjoying themselves so it looks like you are having more fun than anyone else. Because facebook is becoming a kind of keeping up with the Jones experience now. Friends, like it or not: “more” is our mantra. As we saw already people like Donald Trump are using that as a marketing tool. We could argue that there are more things we could use more of. Writer Michael Bassey Johnson says: “We need more love, to supersede hatred, -We need more strength, to resist our weaknesses, -We need more inspiration, to lighten up our innermind. -We need more learning, to erase our ignorance,-We need more wisdom,…-We need more truths, to suppress deceptions, …….-We need more peace, to stay in harmony with our brethren, -We need more smiles, to brighten up our day, -We need more understanding…..to tackle our misunderstanding, We need more sympathy… -We need more forgiveness, not vengeance, -We need more humility…., -We need more patience and not undue eagerness, We need more focus, to avoid distraction, We need more optimism, We need more justice, We need more facts, …We need more education… We need more peacemakers.” But that is a different type of more. We can all agree to that kind of more, but it is so vague that we won’t act to make it happen or run out of steam to make it happen, It‘s kind when after another mass shooting, we all say: we’ve gotta do something about guns but nothing happens.
That is not what our texts are talking about. King David wants not only more conquests on the battle field, for which he uses his commander Uriah, he also wants more conquests in the bedroom, for which he uses Uriah’s wife Bathsheba in this text. David loses his way. He lets his luck and his blessings go to his head. He wants more and as a result he destroys Bathsheba and Uriah, but endangers his own soul. Don Draper, the ad executive in Mad Men, who has a lot in common with David, muses: “We’re flawed because we want so much more. We’re ruined because we get these things and wish for what we had.” (2x) (Season four, The Summer Man).
I found this quote from a religious writer I do not know named Ann Voskamp has written(maybe she watched Mad Men who knows) (One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to live fully right where you are) who says something similar in religious language: “Our fall was, has always been, and always will be, that we aren’t satisfied in God and what (God)He gives. We hunger for something more, something other.”I like Don Draper’s insight that when we get the more we desire, then we wish for what we used to have. I think the key adjective is not “more,” it is “essential.” The essential is what makes our lives meaningful, what ensures our integrity, our sense of what truly matters. This David has lost. Life is not about cramming as much enjoyment as possible into the time we all have. Life is about living out the purpose God has for us. This is why whenever Jesus is involved in multiplying, they are not trivial things. He is not a magician, he doesn’t do tricks. He is concerned about the essential on people’s life: whether they can eat or drink, whether they can regain health, whether they are spiritually sound. D.D. Gordon spotted another trend, the one called “bulk lash,” which is the backlash from buying in bulk. Single people living in small places, with limited budgets, just want to have enough. Maybe we need a spiritual kind of bulk lash. We should not be tempted by the fallacy that more of everything (from money, to things, to fun, to experiences) is going to create meaning. The big question in our lives and one you must answer for yourself is not “how can I get more….”:” but what is the essential in our lives?” May God give us wisdom.