Entry 28, April 3rd, 2011, 10:30pm (ship time)
The dedication to "A Purpose Driven Life:"
"This book is dedicated to you. Before you were born, God planned this moment in your life. It is no accident that you are holding this book. God longs for you to discover the life he created you to live -- here on Earth, and forever in eternity."
I am already working very hard to suppress my cynicism and inborn snark. This is going to be a long read.
I'll give it this, though -- it gets straight to the point. Three pages in it asks this question, "How do you discover the purpose you were created for?" which happens to be the exact question I was asking myself two days ago after reading about Herschel. It then postulates two potential solutions, either A: guess, or B: ask God. This is all well and good, except for one thing: it assumes that we were created for a purpose. What if we weren't? It is very comforting to hear from someone that we were created for a purpose, but as of yet in my life I have yet to see any proof.
"Purpose Driven Life" anticipates my reaction. In the second chapter ("You are not an accident") it says:
"If there was no God, we would all be "accidents," the result of astronomical random chance in the universe. You could stop reading this book, because life would have no purpose or meaning or signifcance. There would be no right or wrong, and no hope beyond your brief years on Earth."
To which I respond, "Excellent. That's exactly what I've been pondering. I can't wait to see how he proves that isn't the case!"
"But there is a God who made you for a reason, and your life has profound meaning!" And that's where it stops.
I am underwhelmed. Simply telling me that there is a God is not really going to convince me that there is one. I can only conclude that this works with people who already want to have faith but are afraid to for some reason. When assured by someone else that there is in fact a God, they are able to draw strength from that and embrace a lifestyle they already hoped to achieve . . . which is lovely, of course, but it doesn't help me much.
I'm noticing two main themes to this book so far. A: you should have a purpose, and B: that purpose should be God. I'll all for the first -- it's what I feel lacking in my own life (refer to the Herschel post). Warren will get no argument there from me. It's the second one that's giving me trouble.
I will say this -- the book is using the term "attachment" a lot, something that I read about in Buddhist and Zen teachings as well. They all warn against attachment, that it takes one farther away from the larger picture. Furthermore, they both describe a larger picture that exists inside of one's own mind. Warren cites several examples of men who were materially poor but rich in understanding, and I think Lao Tzu would agree with him.
Perhaps this is a clue that these ways of thinking are all coming from a common source. I sure would like to finish this book and see a unified spiritual theory, but perhaps that's wishful thinking.
Suffered a quick bout of homesickness tonight on the back deck. I knew I was due for a bit of it eventually, but it still took me by surprise. I think the weather brought it on, because instead of thinking of the home where I grew up or of campus, I found myself thinking of the summer I spent in the house on Eureka Street after graduation. I was remembering that first real summer night in June, lying on my bed with the box fan in the window, trying to get cool enough to sleep (and failing miserably). The humidity, the sound of the crickets, the occasional puff of wind in that huge strange tree that overlooks the place, the orange glow from the streetlamps . . . if Nate, Spiegel, or Eli are reading this, that was a year well spent, guys.
But I am also realizing how far from home I am. There is a small island of people here on board the Lady G that speak my language, but except for that I am stranded in a totally alien landscape amongst strangers I can barely communicate with. I am on my own in a way that I never have been before, and now as I'm settling into routine I finally have time to think about that. I've seen stars in the sky that I've never seen before (this blew my mind). And you know what? It's a good thing, being out here. I may miss home, friends and family, but this is what needed to happen.