I love Graham Greene. This isn’t news to anyone who’s ever had more than a three minute conversation with me, since that’s about how long it takes me to find some way to work him in. In one of his books, Brighton Rock, the character Rose is being duped into marrying a gangster whose alibi for a murder she can disprove despite being unaware of this fact. As a believing Catholic, Rose’s decision is made harsher when it comes about that their marriage will not be sacramental. Ida Arnold tried to save Rose and is having a discussion with her when the following is said:
“I know things you don’t. I know the difference between Right and Wrong. They didn’t teach you that at school.”
Rose didn’t answer; the woman was right, the words meant nothing to her. Their taste was extinguished by stronger foods—Good and Evil. The woman could tell her nothing she didn’t know about these—she knew by tests as clear as mathematics that Pinkie was evil—what did it matter in that case if he was right or wrong?
Right now, I’m sort of gripped in a state that’s the mirror image of what Rose was dealing with, minus the gangsters, the murder, the marriage and the Catholicism, of course. So we only adhere philosophically, ok? But bear with me. There is something I am pursuing which I am told is not Right, at least by my faith community. However, I’m utterly unconvinced that it is Evil. So what do I do? The answer that makes the most sense is rely on revelation from God. But, all I seem to be getting from Him right now is the terrible silence born of asking a question I already know the answer to.
Is the price of being properly disposed worth the price of being temporarily (or perhaps, if the planets align, not-so-temporarily) happy? I don’t know how to answer this or any of the other thousands of phrasings of the idea that I’ve considered of late. On the one hand, being in line with the requirements of the earthly Kingdom of God means that I can take the sacrament, exercise my priesthood, someday go to the temple, and ask for the help of the Almighty with some assurance that He’ll respond. On the other hand, I may just have a shot at being satisfied with my life. As you can see, there’s positives and negatives to both sides here. In other words, I’ve done the cost-benefit analysis and I’m entirely unsure which route is superior. They both seem wonderful. They both seem terrible.
In the absence of a clearly better path, I’d normally retreat into my standard MO of just waiting until the decision was made for me. See, I agree with Joseph that we're designed to be happy (with the caveat that I'll probably not achieve the state in mortality, and we all know I'm bound for a torment of disappointment later on). I also, however, have historical proof that I'm a notoriously bad steward of myself and my happiness.
All this hemming and hawing would have been true this time last week. But, I had a meeting with my bishop this last weekend and I'm almost persuaded to go the way he thinks I should. So, I’ve decided to trust God a bit more and go with what he’s already told me time and time again. At least, that’s what I’m going to do if you were to ask me right now. But, I’m not fully convinced, so this resolve may erode. Or I may just run away to the Great Plains. I hear Omaha’s nice.