Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Hardball with Chris Matthews, Americans and happiness

I'm sitting here tonight, watching a bit of one of my favorite shows, Hardball with Chris Matthews, with the OU-West Virgina game mixed in. Chris Matthews worked for Tip O'Neal, but I like watching him. In general, he's tough on everyone, which I like, and despite working for O'Neal, he is more of an independent. In fact, he voted for Bush in 2000. Tonight he identified himself pretty much as an independent, which I found interesting.

I am a bit disturbed by the political trend in our country of every listening to, watching, and reading people they already agree with. It's just not healthy. This applies to the Christian faith as well. Christians need to listen to what people out in the world are saying about us. Those on the left and the right need to listen to people with whom they disagree with as well.

Anyway, Chris had an interesting stat tonight. 92% of Americans say that they are happy. I'm dumbfounded by this. For instance, 90% of American men say that they do not have a single close friend other than their spouse. Weekly church attendance is 18-23%. People are missing both God and community, and yet they report that they are happy? What gives?

I'll have to think about this, but my first instinct is that Americans are living in denial. Their lives seems fine--"happy"--living in their materialistic world, with a lot of stuff. But when tragedy hits, when they really take a break from the rat race and actually think, it all comes crashing down. In studying with non-Christians, I have seen this pattern time and time again.

Why do you think so many Americans report that they are happy? Are they? How do we share the gospel with such a "happy world"?

3 comments:

Jburgess80 said...

James,
Interesting point. I think that Americans 'report' they are happy because it is easy to report that, and society tells us we need to be happy. If someone says they are unhappy, they are then asked to explain themselves. If they say they are happy....end of conversation. This applies to the "How are you today?". Do we ever really expect to hear, "oh, I'm horrible..."? I think most people believe that happiness shows success. We as Americans are scared to be vulnerable to the world. If one is not happy, maybe they will say they are as not to show weakness. Or maybe the Americans that were polled truly are happy based on their own priorities. Makes you wonder what the standard that they measure themselves to, doesn't it? Again, good question, I will think more about this...

James said...

James,

Yes, Americans have long been known to "lie" to pollsters. For instance, actual studies of weekly church attendance indicate that these numbers are far lower than what Americans report. In other words, they say that they attend worship a lot more than they actually do.

When people say they are happy, they may be looking at the alternative. Are they "unhappy"? Perhaps they are somewhere in the middle, and simply feel closer to happy than unhappy. Or they have all that the world says that they have, and they think that they should be happy.

I'm just throwing out ideas. It is an interesting report, and one to think on.

Mr. E said...

Interesting. I don't watch much of Chris Matthews or much of any of the news folks, except for election stuff.

As far as being happy; I am happy with my family. I am mostly happy with my current job.(I would love to work for myself though.)My best friend lives 5 hours away and most of the males at my church I am friendly with but not very close with any of them. My co-workers are friendly but, as with education, all of them are women, so I tend to be friendly back but keep my distance.

I know many of unhappy people in the world that need to hear the good news and love of Jesus Christ. I try to share when I can but often come up short. Once again read one of my blogs from a few days ago called, Dying to Oneself Is Not Easy.

Anyway, I enjoy reading your blogs.