It seems to me that it is characteristic of Christian thought, and of the West in general, that there must be a purpose to life.
My children raised within an Eastern Japanese culture (and myself in a Chinese culture) do not seem to feel the need to ask the question of “why”? Growing up in Australia, this question was of utmost importance, to adults, and in being so to their children as well. The question of why seems so vital to Western/Christian thinking one can only be seen to it being tied to the fundamental nature of God.
God is talked about with the assumption He is conscious. The language is couched in a way that means it is a He. He is also The Father. So framed in such language it is impossible to escape the conclusion that what brought forth the universe can only be a conscious creator.
Nihilism has such a negative meaning in English. To be without intrinsic purpose is like being lost. There is a kind of helplessness to purposelessness. And when individuals choose their own purpose a sense of “group-ness” is lost. Christianity is therefore social, not in any way a “dialogue” (there we go again, giving Him a human quality) between the individual and God. The conversation is between Christians and God, not of individuals. The only way then is to set up God to be dialogic and purposeful.
Eastern thinking never had to deal with purpose the way Western thinking had to. Nor did Asians have a problem with purpose. There never is (“was”, perhaps Christianity has already made headways into influencing The East) this “there-must-be-a-purpose-in-life” monologue that Europe(ans) always seem to have.
On the social media platform Periscope a random drop-in into scopes in America seemed to be one of preaching, evangelical and missionary in outlook. There is a purposefulness to Christianity that is lacking in, for example, Buddhism. Of the 18,000-plus Buddhist temples in Japan you hardly see missionary-ism at work. Each temple on average caters to over 6,000 people in the population. The priests are too busy conducting funerals and such, preaching is hardly part of its work. Buddhism, in this sense, is for the living, even in funerals. The dead have no need for Buddhist names. Purpose is what we as individuals make of it, with influence or interference from what is properly called The Church.
Someone had to say what had been going on in my mind.
All along we thought robots can become humans, when in fact we, humans, are nothing but fancy biological evolutionary robots.
The joke is on us. And the sad thing is we can think about this.
I want to read this smart guy‘s books.
We are memories. Some memories stay with you more than others. That is just how life works.
I had read Terry Eagleton’s book Literary Theory during my postgraduate years. The one takeaway message from it I got was that nothing is value-judgement free. Not only did Eagleton explain this clearly but he also showed what his position was without hiding it as some others often do. Postmodernism is about being transparent about your values, and about being honest to yourself about these values. For Eagleton, his position is a socialist one, that we should be doing things for the greater good of all. But he is honest about the fact that it is a position and it has flaws like anything else.
Unlike Eagleton, Francis Fukuyama held that Communism was wrong and that the collapse of the Soviet Union is proof of this. For Fukuyama, capitalism must be right because of its continuation. From Eagleton’s standpoint neither are correct. Both are a flawed as each other. But nonetheless we must take a position because that is all we can do.
Not too long ago at the start of the Twentieth-century we still believed that it is possible to be objective. And still today some (not not many) continue to believe so. The difference is that now people are unashamedly taking subjective positions which are clearly flawed and selfish and that is all “thanks” to Postmodernism. For better or worse everything can be taken out of context and appropriated for its own end. And it is still the duty of Postmodernism to point this out.
Wallace Stevens has a collection of essays called The Necessary Angel. I have always liked the title. I personally do not believe in angels (I am Buddhist) but I do believe in the need for angels and such. To be human is to use the imagination. I am all for the imagination (it is only when angels interfere with the our lives of many that I see a problem).
God is a metaphor. What I mean by this is that Christians use God to present their beliefs. And as a Buddhist I use Buddha and Bodhisattvas to present mine (Buddha is a metaphor). It is not a question which is correct but that what is exactly being presented that is important. We need to put our ideas in some kind of concrete way (we have no choice) and no better is it to personify our ideas and concepts.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (St John, Ch. 1, v. 1)
Perhaps this is the genius of the writer of these words. God is language. End of story.
But if we take Saussure to his word then words are just a system of difference. We can conclude that God is what everything else it is not. The word God must be empty, must be a container holding meaning only inasmuch as it is a concept, never to fully have presence, eternally is God marked with absence.
the period after winter when farm machinery are said to “spring“ back to life.
is nowhere near to be
will allow that
what is real
is your existence
but neither do you
closer nor put it
any further away