Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A Good Man Is Hard To Find...

This is probably one of the dumber postings I have written in a while (and that may be saying a lot because there is some serious competition) but here goes:

Is there a master unifying force: put another way, what is the soul?

One possible answer - the soul is more than bio-chemical neuron firings in our brains that make us think spiritually - that there is something "other" that is the soul connected to in some way something supernatural even if only in the initial spark that set the universe in motion.

Another possible answer - there is no soul.

I am in that later camp. Call it Non Soul - by that I mean a kind of exquisite need and yearning that is woven into humans who need to be a part of something larger than they are - to believe that we are more than specks of dust. For what it's worth, to me, the expressions of that desire are much more compelling and moving than the belief.

Here are two examples of what I have faith in while not believing in either a soul or, for example, reincarnation (I am an equal opportunity doubter - eastern and western):

For the proposition that there is no such thing as reincarnation consider this quote from Flannery O'Connor's "A Good Man is Hard to Find":

"If Jesus had said to her before she was born, "there's only two places available to you. You can either be a nigger or you can be white trash", what would she have said? "Please, Jesus, please," she would've said, "just let me wait until there's another place available."

It's a beautiful notion that we have a place in this world where our hurts are fixed. Even if (horribly) not in this life then in the "next" but its got nothing to do with the idea that we get to evolve turn by turn.

For the proposition that there is no soul, consider this stanza from Yeats:

"That is no country for old men;
An aged man is but a paltry thing,
a tattered coat upon a stick,
Soul clap its hands and sing."

It is a beautiful notion that we tattered coats can clap our souls' hands and sing but its got nothing to do with an (immortal) soul - and that does not diminish our soul's song one bit.

Although sad, lonely and in some ways horrible, wishing Mt. Olympus was real doesn't make it so. But that a person would pray for a place in this world otherwise denied (and longed for like nothing else) or that an old man can look back on a life appreciated deeply is sufficiently divine for me.

(as I said, pretty dumb).

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