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Omaha, Nebraska, United States
I am more and more convinced that most congregations die from a staggering lack of imagination. Let's change that. Drop me a line on email or leave a comment if you have thoughts on God, Jesus, congregations, the church or whatever.... I look forward to our conversations.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Musings on our "souls"

First off, let us clear up what "soul" is not:
*The soul is not part of a dualism which separates existence between the seen/unseen or some kind of mind-body separation. (I do not agree with Plato on this.)
*Secondly, the soul is not some substance infused into life (The First Vatican Council and I disagree here, God cannot "infuse" soul into an embryo. For me, the embryo has the soul from the get-go, and does not need any kind of infusion...and in general Roman Catholicism and I disagree on any "infusions" from God throughout life.)
*Soul and body never co-exist separately...as body helps define soul, and soul helps define body.
All right...now on to what "soul" seems to mean.

"Soul," in the way I understand the term is what makes you YOU. That is, when I say, "There is my wife," what I mean is that the person who is my wife is who she is, and I use the world "soul" to capture everything about her. She is female, married to me, works as a pastor, likes good food (she recently became enamored with foie gras), mother of our children, etc...and all that goes into her is what we encapsulate with the word "soul."

Notice, this includes her body, but is not limited to this. She looks different from other women, behaves differently than some, but part of who and what she is is what her body is. So I know the difference between Marissa Miller (my favorite supermodel) and my wife in part because of how they look. (I also assume they have other differences...but how would I know?)

But there is more to "soul" than body. Music, for example, goes into who my wife is, just as it does for all of us (hence "soul" music for me is a generic term that describes the music that is the soundtrack of our lives.) My wife, for example, resonates in ways to people like Carole King, Paul Simon, and Don Henley and others like Bob Dylan and Frank Sinatra mean little to her.

Soul is how we know who is who in the world...and that is why it is important to me as a word, and why I use it...The best question to ask yourself each day is not "Who am I?" nor do you need to pump yourself up in the mirror chanting some mantra of success; rather, ponder and pray for your soul...it is God's gift of you to us.

May your tables be full and your conversations be true.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Question:
How does "soul" differ from personality?

Diane said...

Dear Anonymous,
In both my interpretation of Scott’s blog and my own personal belief, I would say that personality is also encapsulated into the word “soul.” In other words, I believe that one’s soul is “inclusive of, but not limited to” body, personality, tastes, likes/dislikes, beliefs, and the list goes on.

I also believe that our soul is the very core of who we are as human beings. If all of my physical personal possessions (albeit only temporary in this life) were to be stripped away from me, what would remain would be my soul.

When I meet my maker, He/She will identify me by my soul. He/She will know me by the blood of Jesus.

I am not a theologian and this is ONLY my opinion. However, my truth is for me as I perceive it to be.

Anonymous said...

Dear Diane,

I, too, believe that "soul" incorporates more than our personality, persona, etc. It's the true "life" of our being, given to us by our Lord God, that separates from our earthly body when we die, to be reunited in some wonderous way when Christ comes again. But it is difficult for me to define "soul". It incorporates our subconscious, conscience, as well as all of our other attributes, in my opinion. I am not a Theologian either...just a Believer.

Anonymous

Diane said...

Hi Anonymous,
I can related to your wanting to define "soul". I have been labeled as "left-brained" or analytical and what I do in order to put food on the table and a roof over my head requires me to define, categorize, analyze, and qualify.

However, I don't believe that a definition for "soul" can be put in a nice neat box. For me, "soul" is one of God's magnificant mysteries that I choose to accept for what it is - and it does not require a concrete sequential label. I choose to just enjoy it.

Some people may say that my thinking is over-simplified.

God created everything and everyone. God loves everyone - and gave us a Savior to prove it. And it's all God's in the end.

So while I am walking around on this earth, somewhere in the middle of it all, I will do my best to trust, not worry, wash my hands, cover my cough, and play nice. All the other stuff in this world is complicated enough - I don't need to add to any of it.

I hope what I have written has not offended anyone.

Anonymous said...

Dear Diane,

I, too, have an analytical mind (left-brain as you described), due to my profession. I'm glad I'm not alone. Like you, I do trust that God has my soul in His Hands, so there's no need for me to be overly concerned to define "soul"...it was just a thought that crossed my mind, in reading Scott's blog,(due to the analytical mind, again).

Praise the Lord that God is in control & we aren't.

Have a great day everyone!

Pam Brewer said...

I like the line, "...ponder and pray for your soul. It is God's gift of you to us."

Anonymous said...

Thanks for expounding on what you think "soul" is. I like your explanation!
Trish

Scott Frederickson said...

Dear Friends,
Van Morrison has a song on his album "Kep It Simple" where he writes "soul is the essence, the essence from within, soul is not the color of your skin..." That essence, that which God identifies as us (and which we are blessed to identify a few people in our lives by as well) seems to be a good place to start the conversation...though as we note...it will probably never end.
Thanks for reading.
Scott