Pascal's Pensées: Week 26, It Is Hard for a Rich Person to Enter the Kingdom of Heaven


It is not good to be too free.

It is not good to have all one needs.


Jesus, notoriously, once said, "It is hard for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven." Why? Why, to follow Pascal, is it not good to have all one needs?

As I've said many times in many places, the great lie of American society is the belief that if you can get enough cash between you and "the bad thing" heading your way you'll be immune and safe. So we gather a pile of cash--savings, investments, insurance policies, and retirement funds--to create a buffer between ourselves and that dark eventuality that could strike us out of the blue. We sit cozy and safe behind walls of money.

Sitting inside that fortress of cash, it's hard to appreciate your actual predicament. You start to believe the delusion that you're safe and without need. You're self-sufficient! And in such a state of denial it's hard for God to reach you. Nothing gets past your walls of cash. Your 401K is a moat.

But as we know, this illusion of needlessness, of self-sufficiency, is a lie. Cash doesn't protect you from divorce. Money doesn't prevent cancer. Investments don't heal broken relationships with your children. A 401K doesn't heal depression, anxiety, or addiction. Wealth doesn't confer meaning. Stock portfolios do not keep you out of a coffin. 

But money can, for large swaths of life, perhaps even to your final dying moments, keep you clueless. 

Rich people aren't evil. They're just oblivious. 

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