999) Wisdom from Malcolm Muggeridge (b)

British journalist Malcolm Muggeridge  (1903-1990)

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“This lamentable phrase, ‘the pursuit of happiness,’ is responsible for a good part of the ills and miseries of the modern world.”

“When I look back on my life nowadays, which I sometimes do, what strikes me most forcibly about it is that what seemed at the time most significant and seductive, seems now most futile and absurd.  For instance, success in all of its various guises; being known and being praised; ostensible pleasures, like acquiring money or seducing women, or traveling, going to and fro in the world, exploring and experiencing whatever Vanity Fair has to offer.  In retrospect all these exercises in self-gratification seem pure fantasy.”

“I never met a rich man who was happy, but I have only very occasionally met a poor man who did not want to become a rich man.”

Ecclesiastes 1:13-2:11 (portions)  —  I applied my mind to study and to explore by wisdom all that is done under the heavens…  I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind…  I said to myself, “Look, I have increased in wisdom more than anyone who has ruled over Jerusalem before me; I have experienced much of wisdom and knowledge.”  Then I applied myself to the understanding of wisdom, and also of madness and folly, but I learned that this, too, is a chasing after the wind.  For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief.   I said to myself, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure to find out what is good.”  But that also proved to be meaningless…  I tried cheering myself with wine, and embracing folly— my mind still guiding me with wisdom.  I wanted to see what was good for people to do under the heavens during the few days of their lives.  I undertook great projects:  I built houses for myself and planted vineyards.  I made gardens and parks and planted all kinds of fruit trees in them.  I made reservoirs to water groves of flourishing trees…  I also owned more herds and flocks than anyone in Jerusalem before me.  I amassed silver and gold for myself, and the treasure of kings and provinces.  I acquired male and female singers, and a harem as well— the delights of a man’s heart.  I became greater by far than anyone in Jerusalem before me…  I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure…  Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.

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“Future historians will surely see us as having created in the media a Frankenstein monster whom no one knows how to control or direct, and marvel that we should have so meekly subjected ourselves to its destructive and often malign influence.”

“What is called Western Civilization is in an advanced state of decomposition, and another Dark Ages will soon be upon us, if, indeed, it has not already begun.  With the media governing all our lives, as they indubitably do, it is easily imaginable that this might happen without our noticing, by accustoming us to the gradual deterioration of our values.”

“The media have, indeed, provided the Devil with perhaps the greatest opportunity accorded him since Adam and Eve were turned out of the Garden of Eden.”

“So the final conclusion would surely be that whereas other civilizations have been brought down by attacks of barbarians from without, ours had the unique distinction of training its own destroyers at its own educational institutions, and then providing them with facilities for propagating their destructive ideology far and wide, all at the public expense.  Thus did Western Man decide to abolish himself…”

Ephesians 6:10-13a  —  Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.  Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.  Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground…

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“I suppose that every age has its own particular fantasy:  ours is science.  A seventeenth-century man like Blaise Pascal, who thought himself a mathematician and scientist of genius, found it quite ridiculous that anyone should suppose that rational processes could lead to any ultimate conclusions about life, but he easily accepted the authority of the Scriptures.  With us, it is the other way around.”

“The greatest artists, saints, philosophers, and, until quite recent times, scientists, have all assumed that the New Testament promise of eternal life is valid.  I’d rather be wrong with Dante and Shakespeare and Milton, with Augustine of Hippo and Francis of Assisi, with Dr. Johnson, Blake, and Dostoevsky, than right with Voltaire, Rousseau, the Huxleys, Herbert Spencer, H. G. Wells, and Bernard Shaw.”  (or Bill Maher, Richard Dawkins, or Christopher Hitchens, etc.).

“One of the peculiar sins of the twentieth century which we’ve developed to a very high level is the sin of credulity.  It has been said that when human beings stop believing in God they believe in nothing.  The truth is much worse:  they believe in anything.”

“Behind the debris of these self-styled, sullen supermen and imperial diplomatists, there stands the gigantic figure of one person, because of whom, by whom, in whom, and through whom alone mankind might still have hope.  The person of Jesus Christ.”

Psalm 10:4  —  In his pride the wicked man does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God.

Psalm 14:1a  —  The fool says in his heart, “There is no God…”

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The ‘conclusion of the matter’ in Ecclesiastes 12:13-14:

Now all has been heard;
    here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
    for this is the duty of all mankind.
For God will bring every deed into judgment,
    including every hidden thing,
    whether it is good or evil.

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