Be Good to Yourself

We continue, this week, to look at The Way to Happiness, a booklet and now a movie, which points us to the ultimate goal of personal peace and affluence.

At first glance, this mission certainly seems commendable. There’s something missing however – God. While the publishers claim that this booklet contains “the formula for happier living for the individual – and for all mankind,” the formula intentionally excludes God. “The Way to Happiness was specifically written as a non-religious work,” states the website. They don’t want to offend people, it seems. Nor will they with this booklet, full of what its authors call “practical wisdom.” Just a look at the chapter titles confirms the non-controversial and non-confrontational nature of the “formula.”

  1. Take care of yourself.th
  2. Be temperate.
  3. Don’t be promiscuous.
  4. Love and help children.
  5. Honor and help your parents.
  6. Set a good example.
  7. Seek to live.
  8. Do not murder.
  9. Don’t do anything illegal.
  10. Support a government designed and run for all the people.
  11. Do not harm a person of goodwill.
  12. Safeguard and improve your environment.
  13. Do not steal.
  14. Be worthy of trust.
  15. Fulfill your obligations.
  16. Be in industrious.
  17. Be competent.
  18. Respect the religious beliefs of others.
  19. Try Not to Do Things to Others That You Would Not Like Them to Do to You.
  20. Try not to do things to others that you would not like them to do to you.
  21. Try to treat others as you would want them to treat you.
  22. Flourish and prosper.

I can’t help but notice that #1 starts out with #1. Take care of #1, yourself; look out for #1.

Most of that sounds pretty good, though, and nice. Some of it, it can be argued, is even Biblical. The problem is that it’s wrong. While following this formula may lead to better relations with other individuals and maybe even between nations, it cannot lead to eternal happiness. There is, however, a document which proclaims, authoritatively, how to end up happy. It’s called the Covenant of Grace. Long ago, God promised that He would be our God and we would be His people. This promise was to be “eternal.” It has never been abrogated.

For more information on the Biblical principle, see Genesis 17:1-8 and Hebrews 9:15.

What do you think about TWTH and the Bible? Are they compatible? Do they lead to the same place? Do all roads lead to heaven?

Be Happy!

The Internet is a wonderful thing. It affords common folk access to information which may formerly have been difficult, if not impossible, to obtain. It also allows us to exchange messages, sometimes instantly, with people across the street or across the globe. The Internet keeps changing and evolving. It’s not possible to know what marvels it will bring into our lives in the next five, 10 or 15 years.

This technolothgical revolution, of course, brings with it an attendant set of problems. These are well documented. Pornography, bogus information, and viruses which can destroy our computers are but a few issues which have been keeping ethical, technical and legal minds whirring.

Those of us who use email regularly often suffer from the blight known as spam – email junk mail. Downloading one’s mail can be exciting, enlightening, frustrating, or downright infuriating. We employ filter programs and “spam blockers,” but they only keep a small percentage of the unwanted mail from reaching our computers. Spammers constantly find new ways to skirt the parameters of the filters. On any given day, an email user might receive offers to buy real estate, get a better mortgage rate, gamble, or see pictures of naked people.

Much of the spam comes in the form of opportunities to better ourselves. Pills are offered which will increase the size of various body parts, or help us lose inches from the waistline. We can reduce our debt and get a free digital camera with one easy click of our mouse. Many of us receive two or three offers each week to help some poor Nigerian reclaim millions of dollars from banks in Africa – and receive a handsome percentage ourselves.

One of the regular themes in spam is “happiness.” Who can resist the possibility of getting happy? This is a major cultural theme in the U.S. and the West, in general. Witness the great popularity of the song “Happy,” by Pharrell Williams or the earlier hit, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy,” by Bobby McFerrin.

Somewhat regularly an innocuous-looking email is recirculated offering a booklet – and a form of salvation. Sent by “TWTH,” the email offers to show us “The Way To Happiness.” With a minimal amount of effort one can find out more about this booklet and the foundation that publishes it. By its own definition, TWTH Foundation is out to save the world. Here’s the foundation’s self-description from its website:

The first moral code based wholly on common sense, originally published in 1981, its purpose is to help arrest the current moral decline in society and restore integrity and trust to humankind. The Way to Happiness further holds a Guinness Record as the world’s single most translated non-religious book in the world.

Written by L. Ron Hubbard, it fills the moral vacuum in an increasingly materialistic society, containing 21 basic principles that guide one to a better quality of life.

This code of conduct can be followed by anyone, of any race, color or creed and works to restore the bonds that unite humankind.          (from http://www.thewaytohappiness.org/)

Over the next few weeks, I will take a look at this booklet, the foundation that sponsors it, its author and its claims. I won’t wait a week, however, to declare that any attempt to achieve eternal happiness while excluding God, is doomed to failure. This scheme is one such attempt and, ultimately intends to take our eyes off Jesus.