Purpose

Once upon a time, Christopher Marley was afraid of insects.

But now he realizes that if you kill them, and arrange their dead bodies in pleasing patterns, they are not so bad.

He says he has a “driving passion to share my newfound perspective.”

Christopher Marley has found his purpose in life.

People often ask themselves out loud in my presence, “What is my purpose in life?”

I am always at a loss to help them find an answer.

Finally, I understand why: I have misunderstood the question. I thought they were asking, “What role do I play in God’s grand scheme?” As yet, I have not been granted an intuition of any divine plan with that level of detail. So for me, the answer to such a question is unknowable.

I have not known how to help a person identify their objective purpose.

Now, though, I understand the question I have been hearing. Most people are asking me to witness as they discuss their subjective purpose.

They are asking: “What do I think I’m doing here?” “What activities might make my days meaningful?” “If I have to make decisions about how to spend my time and energy, what criteria should I use?”

What relief this insight brings! Questions about subjective purpose are not so difficult to explore.

And yet, when I think about Christopher Marley’s art, I realize I am not so clueless about objective purpose.

I know for sure that some things cannot possibly be anyone’s objective purpose. And that other things are everyone’s objective purpose.

Actually, I am full of background beliefs about God’s grand scheme. Not the grand scheme of “God the world architect,” but the grand scheme of “God the reality at the fringes of our known selves.”

This God makes Itself available to us so that we can grow beyond childhood fears. Beyond fears that make us avoid opportunities, assassinate the characters of others, sabotage important projects. Beyond fears that so paralyze us, we can only escape them by killing what we fear.

This God makes it known that our objective purpose as human beings is to grow in vision, freedom, and compassion for fellow travelers.

If you draw your energy from this God, you know that eliminating what you fear through murder is a tragic detour off the objective purpose.

This objective purpose ought to draw some boundaries around what you affirm as a subjective purpose.

So, yes, I find Marley’s art horrifying – even as I acknowledge that it is very beautiful.

Marley’s art hints at a terrifying psychological dynamic — even as I acknowledge that Marley is, most likely, a very nice person.

Marley’s art reminds me of the bloody, costly projects passionate people often undertake in God’s name — even as I acknowledge Marley’s belief that he is only showcasing the work of “God the great designer.”

I hope that this particular art project is merely a detour from Marley’s objective purpose.

 


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