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Purpose of Existence

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

I was reading through my blog list yesterday and saw an interesting entry from Dr. Laura about continuously challenging ourselves. The basic idea is that we should always be working toward something because it gives us purpose to life. She was going to take up Bocce Ball because someone had given her a set and it was a new challenge. This brought me back to my thoughts yesterday. Our purpose in life is simply to work on improving ourselves. Having weaknesses to overcome gives us a purpose and something to work for. God knew this. He gave us our weaknesses as gifts not only to help us have faith in him and his power to help us overcome, but to give us something to work for. We must never lose hope in life when facing trials or our own weaknesses, they are simply our chances to learn more.

However, how does this philosophy extend to the eternities? Brigham Young once said, " We are in the school and keep learning, and we do not expect to cease learning while we live on earth; and when we pass through the veil, we expect still to continue to learn and increase our fund of information. That may appear a strange idea to some; but it is for the plain and simple reason
that we are not capacitated to receive all knowledge at once. We must therefore receive a little here and a little there (DBY, 91)." In other words, we will never cease learning.

In the Christian world, we tend to have very different ideas about the nature of God than other religions and even other cultures throughout history. The idea of a perfect, unchangeable, omnipotent God that is the same yesterday, today and forever is something that is rather unique to Christendom. Not to say that God is somehow unreliable or fickle in anyway. For he orders the chaos and provides the stability to hold is creations in order. But if constant self-challenge and growth is a principle of eternal happiness, which I believe it is, how does a perfect unchangeable God achieve this? Why even ask the question? Some would consider it blasphemous.

It is not blasphemous, but rather a question to understand ourselves. For we were created in God's image. Growing to understand God is also growing to understand ourselves and our true potential. While not the usual Christian way of understanding God, challenging and questioning the Almighty is something that is found in several cultures. One of my favorite examples is the test from Leonard Bernstein's Symphony No. 3 "Kaddish". Strangely it questions this same subject. Here are some excerpts from the narration of Kaddish:

O, my Father: ancient, hallowed
Lonely, disappointed Father:
Betrayed and rejected Ruler of the Universe:
Angry, wrinkled Old Majesty:
I want to pray.
I want to say Kaddish.
My own Kaddish. There may be
No one to say it after me.

Are you listening, Father? You know who I am:
Your image; that stubborn reflection of You
That Man has shattered, extinguished, banished.
And now he runs free-free to play
With his new-found fire, avid for death,
Voluptuous, complete and final death.
Lord God of Hosts, I call You to account!
You let this happen, Lord of Hosts! .
Tin God! Your bargain is tin!
It crumples in my hand!
And where is faith now-Yours or mine?

O my Father; Lord of Light;
Beloved Majesty: my Image, my Self!
We are one, after all, you and I;
Together we suffer, together exist,
And forever will recreate each other.

Some find it outrageously offensive that someone could question God and blame him for the fall of man and man's nature to run amok. Those that do miss the point of these beautiful passages. Faith is an eternal principle, God must have faith. God created us, but also created us to continue to challenge ourselves and improve ourselves. The answer lies in the final lines, "We are one, after all, you and I; Together we suffer, together exist and forever will recreate each other." As much as God is responsible for our progression and existence, we are what give purpose to His existence. Helping us to grow and realize our true potential is His work and His Glory (Moses 1:39) and that which he wakes up every day to do. Should our purpose be likewise, to lift another and help each other grow? I think so.


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