Is there a Utopia of the Soul?
The book “Looking Backward” by Edward Bellamy, written in 1888, is about a utopia. This tale has the main character going to sleep in 1887 and waking up in the year 2000. The rest of the book describes the idyllic conditions of this changed society of 113 years later. Typically, in this “perfect” society, all violence has been resolved, inequity has been eliminated, everyone only desires and takes what one needs, wealth is not an issue as capitalism has been substituted with a perfect redistribution system, and everyone works according to his talent and, coincidentally, all jobs are filled as there seems to be someone for any task!
Utopias are easy to put down on paper but hard to realize. Novels can tell a good story of the resolution of many social ills and with well thought-out solutions, but the actual practice of repeating those actions in real life run up against reality’s facts, of which there at least two: an imperfect world in which technical solutions are rarely totally successful and which may create more problems as well, and the big one—human nature!
I would characterize our present age as somewhat utopian in its leanings but tempered with a minimum dose of realism. Our science has brought humanity forward in many areas and has made life enjoyable in a lot of ways, at least outwardly as far as material existence is concerned, and, has achieved this for a meaningful part of the world’s population. Great energy and resources on extending modern day accomplishments to everyone globally is being expended, though with progress coming very slowly. But there are many in our global society whose vision of the future sees many positive outcomes waiting to be secured, the sky-is-the-limit kind of outlook!
Now most of us would not want to stop manu of the lifestyle changes which science and technology has brought us, but at the same time we need to be reminded that life consists of more than outward needs—there is a spiritual part of us that can not and should not be ignored. Science can prolong life, make us physically healthy, give us time-saving conveniences which allow for more leisurely activities and overall increase the quality of life—outwardly that is! But that invisible part of us, where the soul and spirit resides, can only be affected so much by these outward advances.
One of these so-called advances, in which the modern world has been fairly successful and is most troublesome, regards the religious sphere. Here in the US, religion and in particular Christianity, has been increasingly marginalized and privatized as the push for a more secular nation has increased. At the same time, society has lost its spiritual anchor and mooring and is being set adrift into a state in which the consequences of immoral behavior is threatening to undermine society in a great many ways—and many of those things are not able to be recognized as such! Science can not, by any means, act as a substitute for the moral and spiritual grounding which religion, namely Christianity has provided.
So a utopian impulse may be evident in our culture today, with great hope and excitement predicated on advances, which seem without limit, from science and technology. But consider how hard it is to find something as basic as a peaceful disposition in the heart and mind. There is no external arrangement of things which can automatically bring peace to a troubled heart, what is needed is something spiritual. Technology and science can’t produce spiritual solutions and so society ignores the religious at its own peril!
And historically there has really only been one religion which has changed the world profoundly and that is Christianity. So I would go one step further and say that if our society ignores Christianity, we do so at our own peril and guarantee more social ills as a result. No manmade utopia can fix that!
So is there a utopia for the soul? Yes! But it is not manmade—it is a gift of grace from God—Jesus Christ