“The characteristic of Pains and Pleasures is that they are unmistakably real, and therefore,
as far as they go, give the man who feels them a touchstone of reality.” The Screwtape Letters, Letter XIII
I have been listening to a lot of country music lately. I’ve always liked it but I am now becoming a fan. I like the stories in the songs. They are often simple much like America used to be. It doesn’t try to be poetic like some pop music which in the end makes no sense. A recent song has taught me a bit of philosophy. A song from Billy Currington People Are Crazy tells a story of how two men, presumably Billy and someone else, are in a bar just talking about life and drinking beer. The man doing the talking is older, a Veteran of two wars, who has had his shares of difficulties in life. Unbeknown to the listener, the Veteran is a millionaire. He eventually dies but not before leaving him all of his wealth. The chorus of the song summarized the Veteran’s life philosophy: “God is great, beer is good and people are crazy.” Simple, yet he articulated his view of God, himself and people. Many people have a hard time explaining their beliefs but here we have a country song that gives as much as we may need to know to live a simple, good, life. First, his view of God. He is Great! He didn’t complain about him for all the troubles He had let him go through. He’s just Great. Second, his view of self. He likes beer. For some this is anathema. Beer cannot be good. Or some may say he is just a Hedonist, someone who only seeks pleasure. But remember, God is great. He enjoys the simple things. Interestingly enough I have been listening to the dramatized version of The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis and letter 13 deals with the issue of pleasure. Screwtape, the experienced demon advises his nephew to not let his patient enjoy small pleasures such as walking, drinking cocoa, things that “have nothing of virtue in them; but there is sort of innocence and humility and self-forgetfulness about them that I distrust.” He distrusts them because they deal with reality and this can lead him in the direction of God. The goal of demons, according to Screwtape is to keep people detached from reality. The song also articulates a view of mankind: people are crazy. In Theology we would say that man is depraved, meaning that he is capable of much evil. And of course, craziness in the colloquial expression has this sense. We live in a crazy world. That’s why we need God, we need to understand who He is, who we are and the way people are. Simple life philosophy for living.