Guaranteed happiness

by Andrea Elizabeth

In Bleak House by Charles Dickens, Esther is a young woman who was unloved in her younger life. It is natural that she would crave love as a result. Her character is such that she doesn’t solicit it, however. She focuses more on loving others. When love is expressed, though, this is her reaction, “Well! It was only their love for me, I know very well, and it is a long time ago. I must write it even if I rub it out again, because it gives me so much pleasure. They said there could be no east wind [John Jarndyce’s term for bad feelings] where Somebody was; they said that wherever Dame Durden [their pet name for Esther] went, there was sunshine and summer air.”

What does love mean? That you will always be enough for someone and they will never need anything else? That you will save each other? The way the story plays out indicates that this is not the case. Only the characters who have consistently exhibited strength of character have happy endings. It is not their strength alone that saves them, but it seems a belief in cosmic karma guarantees that they will get the help they need eventually. I have read that Dickens was a universalist. I don’t know how that plays into his pattern of bad characters getting knocked off.

This is somewhat related in my mind to Whitney Houston’s funeral. I was impressed with T.D. Jakes’ sermon about universal resurrection. It is true that all the dead will be raised. But no one talked about Judgment Day. The last sermon, at the end of the 3 hours, given by an Atlanta pastor who was Whitney’s last, I believe, only addressed the prosperity doctrine. I cannot understand what it has to do with her death or the afterlife. I could stretch it into some universalist belief, I suppose, that God only wants everyone eternally happy and well-fed. This is true, but it takes something on our part. How much and when are the universal questions. The Sinner’s Prayer? Another chance after death of intellectual acceptance of Jesus as personal savior with a guaranteed result? Or only upon repentance and constant vigilance in this life, with some trials still to go though after death?

I was so hopeful for T.D. Jakes being on to something that I looked him up yesterday. Oh yes, he’s in nearby Dallas. Oh, he’s into the prosperity doctrine too. Nevermind.