The Epicurean and Disney


Proverbs 21:17 Whoever loves pleasure will suffer want;
whoever loves wine and oil will not be rich.


Some have said that this verse speaks of the dangers of an Epicurean life-style. What does that mean? Generally we have attributed this to the teaching of Epicurus, a philosopher who was born in 341 BC. He encouraged people to find a static state of pleasure where one was satiated — or full. When the pleasures have been completely, or entirely satisfied, then one feels full. Later Epicurean societies adopted a motto: Non fui, fui, non sum, non curo ("I was not; I was; I am not; I do not care”). In contemporary society this phrase has been adopted to be used at humanist funerals, or to be carved as an epitaph on a headstone. 

The problem is that they don’t understand what Wisdom was trying to say. Pleasure alone would ultimately leave one wanting. The Epicurean life of rich foods and drink, as well as the investment in oils and cosmetics could not be sustained. This was far too expensive of a lifestyle and the person would eventually run out of resources. 


All of this may sound like a life of excess, long in the past. However, I’ve just experienced a week at Disney World and I have to confess, I’m a bit overwhelmed by the overall emphasis on leisure, in what appears to be, the lap of luxury. The scariest part of a trip to Disney is the “magic band.” This seemingly innocent piece of rubber and technology is actually a menacing device which whispers the sweet temptation of the epicurean life. 

How does this “magic band” work? This little device is loaded up with all kinds of data which includes your hotel room key, your tickets to events, your reservations, your fast passes, and — it can include your credit card. You leave your wallet and documents behind, slap on a cute little Mickey Mouse embossed wrist-band and you are ready to go. You never have to think about what you are doing; and that’s the problem because you are lured into never thinking about the consequences of the use of that “magic band.” All you do is tap and go and you can put everything that you are doing on a credit card without having to think about how much is accumulating. The “magic band” works on food, clothing, souvenirs…actually, on anything that is for sale at Disney, and it’s all made so easy that you never have to worry. 

Or do you?

For the lover of pleasure will eventually not be satisfied; and the lover of wine and oil will suddenly reach their credit limit. The “magic” is over when the bill finally catches up with you at home and you realize what you have done. It’s the same with anything that the world promises — because the things of this world cannot bring eternal peace and satisfaction. That’s what Wisdom knew and why the warning was given. 

We can enjoy things from time to time, but if our lives become built around pleasure, we will become discouraged. After a week at Disney, I can’t wait to get back to work — seriously! I had a wonderful time as we celebrated our 35th anniversary together with my brother and his wife. That was great — but my brother and I commented that we don’t need Disney when we can have Work and Witness! We’d rather go somewhere in the world and help others. We’d even have just as much fun packing crisis care kits! Who needs a fancy dinner when you can join other sisters and brothers in Christ in the far corners of this world and celebrate Jesus together. Or maybe we could just invite our neighbors over for a bbq so that we can get to know them better. 

Following Jesus was never meant to be a life of pleasure. It’s a call to self-denial — maybe using what you’d charge on that “magic band” and giving it away to someone else. It’s a life of financial self-discipline that provides the opportunity to give in ways which you may have never imagined. Spiritual discipline is practiced so that we can continually be shaped into the very image and likeness of Jesus Christ. 

No, we weren’t called to be Epicureans, but to be Christians whose lives are full and satisfied by following in the footsteps of Jesus. 


Lord, I’m so grateful for all that you’ve provided for me in my life. It’s more than I could ever deserve or imagine. Please, help me to be a good steward, not serving myself but the world around me with your resources.  Amen. 


  1. Amen! I am so happy on a W & W trip working together with friends in a different culture. Brings one down to the level of the necessary, the basics of serving! An offering to God!


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