17 May 2010

Day 51: The Stranger

The Stranger by Albert Camus.  ISBN:  9780679720201.

This is one of those books that definitely benefits from discussion with other people who read it, but I'll try and have one of my "one-sided discussions."  As the story progresses, Meursault's disbelief in God becomes more and more evident.  Strangely I didn't so much respond to Meursault as I did to the characters who interacted with him.  It's like he was trying so hard not to get involved with everyone else that it's no wonder "nothing matters" to him.

The best exchange I thought he had was with a priest in which they discuss Meursalt's lack of faith.  In disgust, the priest finally says that all men believe in God, even those who turn their backs on him (page 69).  While I don't necessarily think that's completely true, I do think there is still a natural tendency for people to believe in god.  That's god with a little "g," for which I will give my definition.

To me, god is a concept or idea in which we find comfort on a spiritual level.  That idea can range anywhere from a person-like father figure to all the Olympian Gods to nature to a kind of spiritual energy source.  I think god is too big of a concept to deny completely and must also be too big to be contained in one single form.  That is to say, there must be many paths to spiritual salvation, comfort, ascendance, etc. If God is all things (as the Christian faith claims), then god must be present in all religions, and even the lack thereof.

As a fourth generation Unitarian Universalist, I was brought up with the option of exploring as many different religions and non-religions as I wanted.  As a child, I frequently questioned my parents on their beliefs.  My father (raised and recovered Southern Baptist) seemed to lack them altogether, while my mom's were held as extremely private.  I've taken more of that approach, preferring solitary worship, but occasionally attending church for the community it provides and the exposure to new ideas.  My beliefs have ranged from monotheism to polytheism to agnostic; I've been a Deist, a Wiccan, a Pagan, and played with countless other religions.  I've attended Catholic Mass and Baha'i and Southern Baptist churches.

While I've kind of settled into believing in God as a kind of energy* or presence, I believe everyone has the right to find what works for them spiritually.  I believe everyone should at least think about their spirituality on a somewhat regular basis.  And I think that we have to allow it to be fluid.  I understand that I was raised a little differently from the majority of Americans and maybe even Earthlings, but I think in order to grow as people we need to be able to think our way through even our core values and beliefs to find the ones that fit who were are currently.  It does not make sense to believe in the same things we believed in when we were seven for the same reasons when we're forty-two.  That would be like continuing to believe the earth is round because you were told it's round.  It may be true (in this example it obviously is), but at as you grow in awareness, your level of curiosity should increase along with your level of observation.  You should read, and watch ship masts, and the horizon from your window seat on an airplane.  Why would you want to limit your knowledge in any way, and in such a crucial area of your very being?

If your soul is so important and unique and special, shouldn't you be willing to find the thing that will provide the best care for it? 

*I like to tell people I believe in the Force, I'm also a little nerdy.
 **This post is in no way intended to alienate people.  I have no intentions of being preachy, etc.  It is meant to provoke thought on the state of your spiritual well being as you define it.  If I have offended anyone by talking so openly about spirituality/religion, I apologize that my comments offended you, but I do not regret what I have said.  I find value and problems in every religion, and most ideas regarding spirituality, but you have the right to believe whatever you like.  If you have further questions about my beliefs, feel free to contact me at acampb8@kent.edu, but I do not welcome proselytizing.

1 comment:

  1. Camus was expressing through his character an absurdist point of view, as he has stated elsewhere ( I think THE REBEL) " I am inclined to believe in the legendary bravado, in that mad laughter of the healthy man provoking a non - existent god". Whether you believe in Camus's view point or not, doesn't, I think detract from it being a good book.
    I liked your review, it got me thinking,made me check out some old books I've not looked at for a while.
    ps. Try The Plague, if you want to try another Camus


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