Culture of Sorrow

Ever read a blog post (or anything for that matter) that elucidates something that’s been rolling around in your head but you hadn’t firmed up into solid thoughts yet?

That happened to me today when I read Melissa’s post over at the Living Proof Ministry blog.

She starts by briefly discussing Ain’t Too Proud To Beg: Living Through the Lord’s Prayer by Telford Work (2007). Dr. Work is assistant professor of theology at Westmont College. But she moves quickly to a point he brings up in one of his sermons in the epilogue: the culture of sorrows.

Go read the post for an excellent treatment on the subject; I won’t be able to do it justice here. But here’s the core of it.

He uses it in reference to our own culture and “the common sensibility that life’s true character is misfortune and that sadness rules over us” (226). He says: “In our culture of sorrow, sadder is cooler. Joy may be desirable, but it’s not fashionable.

I’ve been thinking about this a bit lately. Have we become so disconnected from each other, so turned inward to ourselves that when we ask someone, “How are you?” we only want to hear “I’m fine.” We don’t want to hear sorrows, but we also don’t want to hear joy. It’s as if someone else’s joy is a condemnation on our own lives. As if since we believe life sucks, we should all wallow in it together and nobody better dare rise up and tell us we can experience joy.

It may not be as blatant as I’m describing here, but it does seem particularly in the art world deep is equated with depressing, artistic with pain. One thing that I truly appreciate about Christian art is that there is a thread of hope pulling us through. We of all people have reason for hope and joy. I don’t know that there’s an answer, but I do find it something to be aware of.