Searching for Meaning

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Man is simply a being
in search of meaning.

–Plato

Trials, Errors, and Homecoming

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I now understand that I would never have been able to become a plausible critic of the absurdities of modern consciousness until I myself had experienced them. I did not become an orthodox believer or theologian until after I tried out most of the errors long rejected by Christianity. If my first forty years were spent hungering for meaning in life, the last forty have been spent in being fed. If the first forty were prodigal, the last forty have been a homecoming.

―Thomas C. Oden,
A Change of Heart: A Personal and Theological Memoir

The Romantic Solution

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We still need to feel that our life matters in the scheme of things. We still want to merge ourselves with some higher self-absorbing meaning in trust and in gratitude. But if we no longer have God how are we to do this?

One of the first ways that occurred to the modern person was the romantic solution. The self-glorification that we need in our innermost being, we now look for in the love partner. What is it that we want when we elevate the love partner to this position? We want to be rid of our faults. We want to be rid of our feeling of nothingness. We want to be justified. We want to know that our existence hasn’t been in vain. We want redemption; nothing less . . . Needless to say, human beings can’t give you that . . . No human relationship can bear the burden of godhood.

–Ernest Becker,
The Denial of Death