Materialism and Happiness

Are we too busy feasting on the pleasures of the world to hunger for spiritual meaning? Jon Tyson discusses finding God in modern society.

Questions for Discussion and Personal Reflection

  1. Do you ever find yourself seeking happiness in material possessions?
  2. In what ways might you be too preoccupied with the pleasures of the world to find deeper spiritual meaning?

Would you say life itself has purpose for all humans and all of us?
Yeah, I, I think life definitely does have purpose, and I think it has spiritual purpose. Uh, we, you know, America is supposed to be one of the freest places in the world, and, uh, we're basically killing ourselves with our freedom. You know, we've basically been told that the answer for the human heart is materialism. Uh, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, that if we get more stuff, this is going to make our lives happier. And if you look at modern life, that's not the case. We're more addicted to things than we've ever been. Our relationships, our primal relationships are falling apart. We don't know how to stay married. We don't know how to commit to one another. We don't know how to raise children in healthy ways. And so there's so much brokenness in our world that a simple materialistic answer doesn't seem to do the job. I read a quote once from George Orwell where he said he was having lunch and on his table there was a wasp, and it was eating a little bit of jam. And as a cruel trick, he cut the wasp in half, and it didn't even notice. It just went on eating the jam, but then a little trickle of jam was coming out the back half of its body. And it didn't realize what had happened until it tried to fly away. And I think that's a true metaphor for a lot of us. We're so just feasting on the pleasures of the world, but whenever we look for something transcendent, for meaning, truth, or beauty, that part of our heart and soul has been cut away by modern life, and we can't access it. And so there's a tremendous longing behind the brokenness of all of the freedom society has given us that, that's not really, it's not really working and so people hunger for spiritual meaning. Even though people say we're becoming more and more secular, there is an incurable thirst and spiritual longing that we see everywhere from Oprah to Time Magazine to an obsession with who the new Pope's going to be. God simply won't go away because our souls are created to know him.