Hakuna Matata Heresy- So Tempting

YouTube Preview Image

It may sound too simple or even too silly to be taken seriously- but I would say that looking back over my own life, and being in a perpetual teen world courtesy of my employment as a high school religion teacher- it would be hard to overplay the damage of this “Problem-Free Philosophy”.

Hakuna Matata- no worries- fits nicely with the universally-appealing mantra- “Be tolerant”, or even that oft-abused Scripture adage “Judge Not”.  I have to say that in my own life this has been a most appealing life philosophy, and it really stands counter to Christian Orthodoxy.  As appealing as “No worries” seems, it is not going to mesh well with “Pick up your cross and follow Me”.

For me, Hakuna Matata goes something like this: Everyone is basically trying to find their way- we are lost- we can see death- we are poor souls, not gods- so why not just take pity on everyone who isn’t into overtly evil trips like killers and violent nihilists? The sacrament of Hakuna Matata is the party- and all that that would imply to our American sensibility. Good times shared with friends and acquaintances, nobody “tripping” on black or white, foreigner or domestic, gay or straight and so forth. I recall times backpacking in Europe, a large group of multinational 20-somethings, just passing around a bottle of wine looking at some beautiful scenery. Everything just seemed alright. 

The fact is that I know many decent people who basically follow the religion of “sports is my life”, or “girls just want to have fun”,  “shop until you drop”, “Part-eey!”, “Girls, girls, girls!”, “See the world- life is my oyster”.  I can solidly relate to these minor religions because I have spent some whole years in discipleship to some of these ‘faiths’.  Having passed through and lived out in the flesh these Christ-Way alternative pathways- I am now pretty well-placed to point out their dangers.

It isn’t that we are not to be tolerant, that we are to be sweating blood every moment, that we are to be scornful – never dancing, never having a couple of good glasses of fine wine or brown ale, never spending time in the gym or watching college football.  But the trouble starts when we begin our journey with the idea and belief that “I am a decent bloke- I can’t really be called sinful- and sin is such a harsh word that should be reserved for rape or murder- not for ‘partying to excess’ or being a ‘ladie’s man’, or being an educated cynic or malcontent. And therein lies the rub.

Christian Orthodoxy for me begins with the simple notion- I am a sinner, I am incomplete, I can be a better man, I need a Redeemer, I need a Father in Heaven, I need God because I am made by Him and Loved by Him, and I want to love like Him- and I just can’t do it alone.  In short- I need Help- Bigtime. This humility leads me to reverence, which leads me to prayer, to study, to dedicating myself to doing good actions, shaking off bad thoughts, and lots of ongoing study in the ways of the Spirit and the religio-spiritual life. For me, the proof is in the pudding- I’ve lived Hakuna Matata, and I have lived Christian Orthodoxy, I have my own comparisons for contemplation just under my surface. Christian Orthodoxy wins hand’s down. For a short-cut I can just compare my state of spirit when I was a childless single to being a married/family man. Huge difference- really, really huge- my oldest friends who had contact with me then and now could offer compelling back-up testimony.

The big difference between Hakuna Matata et al and Christian Orthodoxy is that in both religions a person is often just trying to “get in the pit and love someone”. Love for life, love of self and others, all of that is what most of us are seeking with our time spent on the planet. But the divide occurs when Truth is brought into the mix. Truth either says God or no God, Jesus Christ the Lord and Saviour or No Jesus Christ the Redeemer. We can’t have it both ways in truth- we have to discover which way the actual facts flow if we are going to respect our rationality, and not just give over to the idea that everything and me as well, are just illusions. Once we respect the reality of free will and take responsibility for ourselves, and then branch out and start taking responsibility for others and maybe society, and perhaps the whole world- well then you have to give up Hakuna Matata- and get a bit or more than a bit- well, serious. Worries, desires, dreams, ideals- all of these are part of our human drama- cut them off and you cut out God from your soul and you stand apart from your proper destiny.  You don’t usually solve problems by running away from them- if one of my students has homework and they choose to play video games instead- the work doesn’t get done and they don’t get the grade they would hopefully want.  The most frustrating student is the one who just doesn’t care- and this is what really grabs me about Hakuna Matata- if you really care- care about your life, care about others, care about anything or anyone really important- you can’t not do anything, you can’t just not worry- not if your soul wants ultimate fulfillment.

I want to be fulfilled as a person, as a man, as a husband, as a father, as a teacher, as a citizen of the U.S. and planet Earth- I want to be of some help, I want to fight for what is right, and true, and lovely. I am firmly on the side of Jesus Christ now, I’m not playing around at the edges of Christianity and Catholicism any longer- I’m all in- head, neck, shoulders, feet and toes into Life, Hope and Love-  like the song goes- “I’m into Jesus”,  because Jesus is into me, He loves me, and He has called out my sins- and if I am going to love like Jesus, I am going to have to call out my brothers and sisters in their sins- it may hurt at first, it may have the temporary effect of spoiling the party of the moment- but the Plan for our lives is much, much bigger than a few missed parties- the Heavenly Feast is worth the sacrifices, worth the wait- just persevere, seek righteousness, be compassionate, and desire personal holiness which comes from God and God alone. Amen.

  1. “ the Heavenly Feast is worth the sacrifices, worth the wait- just persevere, seek righteousness, be compassionate, and desire personal holiness which comes from God and God alone.”

    It’s so appropriate you should post this today. It speaks to my heart. As I read through Joe’s posting of movies below, I thought back to a movie I saw a long time ago entitled “King Rat”, based on James Clavell’s novel about a Japanese POW camp in 1945. I don’t have the time to do this posting justice, but woven into the fabric of the movie were moral questions about honor, duty, love, compassion, greed, envy, etc., each virtue or non-virtue integrated in varying degrees in each individual man from different cultures – American, British, Australian, and Japanese, and the degree to which each would compromise his particular moral code, or lack thereof, in order to survive. One poignant line that I will never forget was spoken by a dying 22-year-old, from starvation or fever, probably a combination of both — this is not verbatim — “I came from dust and will return to dust with just 22 years in between.” If that was spoken by a Christian, there is much hope and meaning, for our Lord is merciful and forgiving and is the resurrection and the life. If spoken by one without any particular belief in Our Lord Jesus, it causes me to be almost to the point of despair for his soul.

    “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.”

  2. This was incredibly insightful and made some striking points (and analogies) synthesizing a cultural problem very well as well as putting it into proper Christian perspective. Thanks Tim.

  3. Hakuna Matata speaks to an autonomy of the moral order

    Scar is heteronomous.

    The circle of life is participatory theonomy.

    From Veritatis Splendor.

    40. The teaching of the Council emphasizes, on the one hand, the role of human reason in discovering and applying the moral law: the moral life calls for that creativity and originality typical of the person, the source and cause of his own deliberate acts. On the other hand, reason draws its own truth and authority from the eternal law, which is none other than divine wisdom itself.69 At the heart of the moral life we thus find the principle of a “rightful autonomy”70 of man, the personal subject of his actions. The moral law has its origin in God and always finds its source in him: at the same time, by virtue of natural reason, which derives from divine wisdom, it is a properly human law. Indeed, as we have seen, the natural law “is nothing other than the light of understanding infused in us by God, whereby we understand what must be done and what must be avoided. God gave this light and this law to man at creation”.71 The rightful autonomy of the practical reason means that man possesses in himself his own law, received from the Creator. Nevertheless, the autonomy of reason cannot mean that reason itself creates values and moral norms.72 Were this autonomy to imply a denial of the participation of the practical reason in the wisdom of the divine Creator and Lawgiver, or were it to suggest a freedom which creates moral norms, on the basis of historical contingencies or the diversity of societies and cultures, this sort of alleged autonomy would contradict the Church’s teaching on the truth about man.73 It would be the death of true freedom: “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die” (Gen 2:17).

    41. Man’s genuine moral autonomy in no way means the rejection but rather the acceptance of the moral law, of God’s command: “The Lord God gave this command to the man…” (Gen 2:16). Human freedom and God’s law meet and are called to intersect, in the sense of man’s free obedience to God and of God’s completely gratuitous benevolence towards man. Hence obedience to God is not, as some would believe, a heteronomy, as if the moral life were subject to the will of something all-powerful, absolute, ex- traneous to man and intolerant of his freedom. If in fact a heteronomy of morality were to mean a denial of man’s self-determination or the imposition of norms unrelated to his good, this would be in contradiction to the Revelation of the Covenant and of the redemptive Incarnation. Such a heteronomy would be nothing but a form of alienation, contrary to divine wisdom and to the dignity of the human person.

    Others speak, and rightly so, of theonomy, or participated theonomy, since man’s free obedience to God’s law effectively implies that human reason and human will participate in God’s wisdom and providence. By forbidding man to “eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil”, God makes it clear that man does not originally possess such “knowledge” as something properly his own, but only participates in it by the light of natural reason and of Divine Revelation, which manifest to him the requirements and the promptings of eternal wisdom. Law must therefore be considered an expression of divine wisdom: by submitting to the law, freedom submits to the truth of creation. Consequently one must acknowledge in the freedom of the human person the image and the nearness of God, who is present in all (cf. Eph 4:6). But one must likewise acknowledge the majesty of the God of the universe and revere the holiness of the law of God, who is infinitely transcendent: Deus semper maior.

  4. I have always thought that Hakuna Matata was an excuse for kicking back, taking it easy and doing nothing. As such, I suspect it is the most widely followed philosophy ever devised by fallen Man!

  5. In philosophical terms, I’d label it hedonism, a type of materialism that sees the experience of pleasure and the avoidance of pain as the only true goods. It always reminds me of the tv character Frasier. All of his grand intellect and learning were solely focused on his personal enjoyment.