Monday, February 08, 2010

Ask your friends, "How is it with your soul?"

Today in his post "The Question No One Asks: How is it with your soul?", Chuck Warnock writes, "The concept of soul has fallen on hard times in our uber-scientific age. We no longer entertain the quaint notion that we need to attend to, or care for, our souls. As a matter of fact, the whole business of the human soul is up for grabs." He includes, "Thomas Moore, in his bestselling book, Care of the Soul, writes from a monastic background, but expands the idea of soul to include more than a person’s eternal destiny. Moore contends that we need to care for our souls, the essence of who we are as living beings, and pay more attention to the "soul" of all things both living and inanimate." Warnock suggests:
"Before the Enlightenment of the 17th and 18th centuries, and Descartes’ famous, "I think therefore I am", man’s existence revolved around the idea of his soul. Granted, there was a lot of Platonic dualism, separating the idea of physical body from immaterial soul, but even with that duality, soul was more than just that part that went to heaven. Soul was the essence of humanity, the part of mankind that responded to God, and souls needed "curing" — which meant both caring for and gathering into the Christian community.

But with the Enlightenment, science and the scientific method pushed faith and God out of the public realm. One could talk about things that were provable, but of course, faith and the soul were not among those things. Hence, the loss of the soul began.

In the 20th century, the shift continued as the Christian message was intellectualized. The appeal was to what the individual had or had not done: Have you accepted Christ as your savior? Have you been born again? Do you believe the Bible?"
He writes, "Churches should be communities in which the real issues of our humanity are presented. Instead of answering questions about the soul, however, much of our effort focuses on popular problems and their solutions. While it’s fine to have a series on "how to have a great marriage" or "what the Bible says about finances" the problems of 21st century life are soul problems, not just technical problems followed by self-help answers. We must not become cultural technicians, when what the world needs are doctors of the soul."

Warnock concludes, "We may need a new way to ask that old question, How is it with your soul?, but if we fail to ask it we are failing to attend to the most basic need of human beings."

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