Mike Cope's blog

Monday, March 21, 2005

From Eugene Peterson: The term "Soul" works like a magnet, pulling all the pieces of our lives into a unity, a totality. The human person is a vast totality; "soul" names it as such. . . . When we say "soul" we are calling attention to the God-origins, God-intentions, God-operations that make us what we are. It is the most personal and most comprehensive term for who we are--man, woman, and child. But in our current culture, "soul" has given way to "self" as the term of choice to designate who and what we are. Self is the soul minus God. Self is what is left of soul with all the transcendence and intimacy squeezed out, the self with little or no reference to God (transcendence) or others (intimacy). "Self" is a threadbare word, a scarecrow word. "Soul" is a word reverberating with relationships: God-relationships, human-relationships, earth-relationships. "Self" in both common speech and scientific discourse is mostly an isolating term: the individual. "Soul" gets beneath the fragmentary surface appearances and experiences and affirms an at-homeness, an affinity with whoever and whatever is at hand. When "soul" and "self" are turned into adjectives in colloquial speech, the contrast becomes even clearer: "soulish" gives a sense of something inherent and relational, entering the depths, plumbing the underlying sources of motive and meaning, as in soul food, soul music, the soulful eyes of a spaniel, and, negatively, "that poor lost soul"; "selfish," on the other hand, refers to the self-absorbed, uncaring, and unrelational--a life that is all surface and image. (from Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places)

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