Paul L. Caron

Sunday, September 25, 2022

Inazu: The Life We're Looking For

John Inazu (Washington University; Google Scholar), The Life We're Looking For:

Life 3Last week, I participated in a public dialogue organized by The Carver Project with my friends Andy Crouch, Tish Harrison Warren, and Michael Wear. We focused on Andy’s new book, The Life We’re Looking For: Reclaiming Relationship in a Technological World. Following Andy's framing comments, the rest of us applied the book to the three areas of The Carver Project’s mission: university (me), church (Tish), and society (Michael). We had all read Andy’s book, but none of us had much of an idea of what the others were going to say. Yet it all seemed to work. And I think it worked because we trusted each other. ...

These themes of friendship and trust called to mind Tish’s recent New York Times piece on marriage [I Married The Wrong Person, And I’m So Glad I Did]. Tish shares vulnerable reflections on her own marriage including fights with her husband and lots of counseling, noting that at times they stayed married “sheerly as a matter of religious obedience and for the sake of our children.” ... [S]he offers an alternative to the cultural trend:  "I don’t give a lot of marriage advice. But I want to simply offer that choosing to stay in a marriage for all kinds of unromantic reasons is a good and even a brave choice."

The New York Times Twitter crowd was not pleased with Tish’s suggestion. ...

I was initially thrown by the intensity of the reaction to Tish’s marriage piece. But on reflection it occurred to me that her core claim presents a vision of human flourishing fundamentally at odds with those reacting to her. Tish’s counsel to choose sacrifice and even suffering cannot be reconciled with a normative vision that prioritizes personal happiness and well-being over all else. ... [F]or a subset of Tish’s critics, the problem with her piece is that it names an alternative god to self. ...

[T]he ultimate things to which they point are fundamentally at odds. Tish roots ultimate things in a God who calls for, and demonstrates, sacrifice and suffering for the sake of imperfect relationship. That such a message has become unthinkable to large segments of our pluralistic society should neither surprise nor discourage people of faith. But it gives us an opportunity to demonstrate a different way of living, whether in marriage or friendship.

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