Malcolm Muggeridge, in his Jesus Rediscovered, makes a strong case for turning our back on physical pleasures. His involvement in mass communications enabled him to see walking disasters, the consequences of dedication to sensuality. I was struck by his comment that there can be no worse tragedy in a person’s life than to feel completely at home on Earth. What an arresting thought!
Muggeridge takes seriously the fact that we are not finally made for the kind of existence we are presently living. Neither the beginning nor the end are like what we now have. This life is the parenthesis in the larger sentence. Or as Muggeridge himself expresses it,
“The only ultimate disaster that can befall us, I have come to realize, is to feel ourselves to be at home here on earth. As long as we are aliens, we cannot forget our true homeland, which is that other kingdom.” (“Jesus Rediscovered”)
Muggeridge expresses his deep disenchantment with being “at home” here on earth in these words –
It was the picture palaces, their fronts so brilliantly lighted, inside so mysteriously dark, that provided our true churches and chapels. There we sat, separately or clasped together . . . and worshiped our tribal gods – sex, money and violence – as they were projected onto the screen and entered into our own minds and bodies. And the new gospel was propounded: in the beginning was the Flesh and the Flesh became Word . . . There was no more ardent acolyte than I, and yet, trudging homewards late at night along empty tramlines, a fearful sense of desolation would fall on me. (ibid)
But, Muggeridge did experience, in spite of his sense of lostness, God’s love. Here is one of his very interesting ways to refer to the command to love.
Only as children of God are we equal; all other claims to equality – social, economic, racial, intellectual, sexual – only serve in practice to intensify inequality. For this reason the commandment to love our fellow men follows after, and depends upon, the commandment to love God. (ibid)
Muggeridge knew much about the contemporary human desire to put people in the place of God. In this context he refers to Dr. Edmund Leach, a British social anthropologist, who has, says Muggeridge, “been voicing a certain anxiety about the human takeover.” Muggeridge agrees with Leach’s verdict that “Unless we teach those of the next generation that they can afford to be atheists only if they assume the moral responsibility of God, the prospects for the human race are decidedly bleak. Bleak indeed!” (“Men like gods” in Jesus Rediscovered)
Note – Both “Jesus Rediscovered” and “Men like gods” are chapters of the book Jesus Rediscovered which is available online at www.worldinvisible.com/library/mugridge/jred/jredcont.htm