Friday, January 27, 2006

"The Secret of the Self"

A retired diocesan priest friend and reader of mine, Father Lawrence Saalfeld of Milwaukie, Ore., pointed out the following article from the December issue of the magazine First Things to me. It is a reflection on obituaries. I enjoyed it very much and would like to recommend it.

Here are some quotes from it:

"An obituary always falls short of what we would like it to be---and yet, it is better than nothing. When we write one, we believe we are remembering something discrete and doing something more than recording a list of items on a curriculum vitae. We are, in some sense, striving for a God's eye view; not just people in their distilled essence, both as they were known and as they knew, or tried to know themsleves. We are attempting to represent a soul, something whose nature is greater and deeper than any particular instance can adequately show."

"Our age, of course, prefers to speak of selves. "Souls" seems a term too laden with metaphysical implications to pass through customs. But it is striking to note how poorly the word "self" even though it is one of the cardinal terms of our discourse serves us as a marker for that thread of essential continuity in the individual life that we acknowledge and commemorate in the obituary. An obituary is not, or not only, about a self" .........


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