The Meaning of Life

Yes, indeed, the title of a somewhat dumb Monty Python film from 1983 featuring the exploding Mr Creosote. My subject is that eternal question of our times and the whole of human history for as long as meaning has been an issue. Is it an issue in “primitive” tribes and cultures? I wonder.

This has come in from an Orthodox priest: You Don’t Mean a Thing. I greatly appreciate this look at our existential question: Are we just animals that live and die without any purpose or meaning, or is there a meaning of our existence, a notion of vocation? I suppose that the question itself is one of modernity and man’s attempt to dominate and own everything.

I thought about this while running some errands in my van. It’s not what we try to project onto ourselves but finding out who we are, where we come from and what we are called to be in our inmost depths. Some seem to have an easy answer: they became a doctor or a teacher or a lorry driver – or married and had children – or entered a monastery or became a priest. For others, it might not be so easy, and the questions continue throughout life.

Yes, we need to see what we have been given, the Parable of the Talents. It is not what we do or have, but what we are. I recommend reading Charles Dickens’ Tale of Two Cities and the final speech of Sydney Carton, the dissolute lawyer who sacrifices his own life to save the man who married the woman he loved. In that final moment before going to the guillotine, he redeems his life with the words:

It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.

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