One starts by making one concession to popular culture, and it all comes rushing in. Everything is making me think of that really-not-quite-Shakespeare television show, the X-Files lately. Even this quote from Flannery O'Connor: "I think there is no suffering greater than that caused by the doubts of those who want to believe. I know what torment that is. But I can only see it in myself anyway as the process by which faith is deepened. What people don't realize is how much religion costs. They think faith is a big electric blanket when, of course, it is the cross."
Interestingly enough, that's something that the show kind of gets right. The characters who "want to believe" (remember that rather corny movie title?) aren't exactly drawing comfort from it. The risks run from job loss to the discomfort of knowing that life is rather darker than it seems. But somehow the truth itself is worth knowing. The ultimate non-utilitarian understanding of truth: not the Jamesian definition of truth as "whatever works, but the age-old understanding of truth as that which is real. Aristotle starts his Nicomachean Ethics with the claim that: "All men by nature desire to know." A life run like a well-oiled machine, free from the discomfort of grinding gears and occasional breakdowns may be desirable from a utilitarian perspective. But courageous thinkers from Plato through Aquinas and Maritain find truth an end good in itself. X-Files, as I've complained before, doesn't know what that truth is, and only half hints at times that God might have something to do with it. But in a society where utilitarianism has so much sway on the cultural consciousness, "I Want to Believe" (one might clarify, "even if the truth is uncomfortable") isn't such a terrible place to start.