What is the meaning of life? This question may become significant at any stage of life. It may be a fleeting feeling, or something more profound. The answer may seem obvious. The question may also seem perplexing, and prompt further reflection. This series is for all who are touched by the sense that life itself raises questions that need to be explored, for the sake of our own understanding of ourselves, of how we relate to other people, and how we may respond to God.
Bishop David Evans identifies six related topics that can begin to provide answers to this question. Our first resource is Scripture, the Word of God, which may be found to prompt and respond to many human questions. Modern Philosophy is another resource. This provides a rich array of how European thinkers have addressed the question of life’s meaning from the 17th to the beginning of the nineteenth century. There is no need to be put off by the word ‘philosophy’. According to the philosopher Pope St John Paul II, everyone has a philosophy of life. Reflecting with more systematic philosophers may help to broaden and deepen that personal philosophy.
Identity – it’s not all about me but about us; Generosity – giving and giving away; Adaptability – being and becoming; Empathy – are we each other’s keeper?; Paradox – managing without resolution; Community – building now and beyond.
Each theme follows the same model of:
A themed reflection from the Bible and modern Philosophical thinking.
An image and reflection inspired by the main theme.
A question and action point to help with individual or group discussion.
A short prayer to end the session.
Suggested further reading for going deeper.
What is identity and what does it mean for us today? Bishop David Evans explores how St John the Baptist and Rene Descartes show us that it’s not all about us, but about how we behave, and who we make ourselves to be in the context of other people.
What is generosity and what does it mean for us today? Bishop David Evans explores how Jesus and Arthur Schopenhauer show us that generosity is the capacity to recognise the lack of something good in a person and to act to supply it.
What is adaptability and what does it mean for us today? Bishop David Evans explores how Jesus and Hans-Georg Gadamer show us that adaptability is the capacity to scrutinise the situation one is facing and to change oneself significantly in order to benefit from what it promises.
What is empathy and why is it relevant today? Bishop David Evans explores how Jesus and the philosopher Edith Stein understand empathy, and its relevance to the flourishing of our relationships and the deepening of our faith.
How do we understand and manage paradox in our lives? Bishop David Evans explores how Jesus and the philosopher Blaise Pascal interpret paradox through the values we pursue, including some gospel encounters with children and the woman’s mite.
What is community and how do we build it today? David McLoughlin responds to Bishop David by exploring how Jesus and Mary Midgley show us that all life forms are inter-connected. The kingdom of God requires the healing of all creation.