Look, trade is not bad. Money is not bad. Oil is not bad. But trade, money, and oil have all been heavily used in our massive, ongoing attempt to extract ourselves from physical, social, political and moral reality; to feed our fantasy that there is no authority except that to which we consent, and that our consent can be withdrawn at will, that we can define our own physical reality against all kinds of “inconvenient truths;” that we can remake human nature.
The problem is that believing and acting as though you live in this willful, self-defined reality where online credit-card shopping, gas station food, and uncommitted sex are the highest things you can aspire to– they’re PLEASURABLE, after all– leads you to a kind of profound emptiness. That’s because pursuing those things (as opposed, for example, to shopping within one’s means, often locally; or making things; cooking your own healthy food; and getting married or being chaste) is actually out of tune with how reality is. They won’t feel right, you can’t will them to feel right, any more than you can will a note to be in harmony or a chord to resolve if it doesn’t.
All of the above kinds of behaviors are like drugs– we use them to avoid participating in actual life. When we do start participating, when we take a practical first step of service, or of creation, or of cultivation, we discover… we discover the physical world; we discover ourselves; we discover other people; we discover moral reality. And then we look back at what we used to think was pleasure and we are astonished: this was a cardboard life. We had wanted to be free, but we had found that pursuing freedom led us to a life that was free of adventure, of satisfaction, of worthwhile goals, of real connection. It is this cardboard life that God wants to rescue us from.
Step one, for today:
Cook a dish from scratch.