On Meaning & Metanarrative

I’m not sure if William Kilpatrick is a Christian, but he does have an important  insight into the relationship between the meaning of life and the bigger picture of which we are a part. The lesson to draw is clear: our true identity is only discovered when we locate ourselves in God’s redemptive story through Jesus Christ.

The same impulse that makes us want our books to have a plot makes us want our lives to have a plot. We need to feel that we are getting somewhere, making progress. There is something in us that is not satisfied with a merely psychological explanation of our lives. It doesn’t do justice to our conviction that we are on some kind of journey or quest, that there must be some deeper meaning to our lives than whether we feel good about ourselves. Only people who have lost the sense of adventure, mystery, and romance worry about their self-esteem. And at that point what they need is not a good therapist but a good story. Or more precisely, the central question for us should not be, ‘What personality dynamics explain my behavior?’ but rather, ‘What sort of story am I in?’

~ Why Johnny Can’t Tell Right From Wrong (New York, NY: Touchstone, 1992), 192.



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