Jack Kerouac was a well-known American writer, part of a group called the Beats, precursors to Beatniks and, eventually, the hippies. Kerouac died in his late 40s in 1969, an early death brought about by, among other things, heavy drinking.
In his most famous book, On the Road, he wrote: “Suddenly I found myself in Times Square. I had traveled eight thousand miles around the American continent and I was back in Times Square; and right in the middle of a rush hour, too, seeing with my innocent road-eyes the absolute madness and fantastic ‘hoorair’ of New York with its millions and millions hustling forever for a buck among themselves, the mad dream—grabbing, taking, giving, sighing, dying, just so they could be buried in those awful cemetery cities beyond Long Island City.”
We hustle, we rush, we struggle, all part of the “mad dream—grabbing, taking, giving, sighing, dying.” And for what? To eventually end up dead in some cemetery outside Auckland, or Paris, or “beyond Long Island City”? Sounds kind of fruitless, doesn’t it?
Makes one think of the words of Jesus: “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew. 16:26)
Kerouac sensed the need for something transcendent, something beyond what this world, in and of itself offers, because what this world, in and of itself offers is, well, nothing but ultimately death. Which is, precisely, why Jesus came, died for us, and because of His death promises us something better.
And what is that promise?
“And this is the promise that He has promised us—eternal life” (1 John 2:25). In contrast, the world promises us one of “those awful cemeteries. “
Take your pick.