Author Glenda Jackson tackles the age-old meaning-of-life dilemma in her book Origin of the Centred Self? She bases her argument on the Bible, which she believes is “an explanation for understanding who we are, what has gone wrong in our world, and our struggle to make meaning of the apparent meaninglessness of Life.”
Using charts, Bible stories, and the writings of philosophers, theorists, and scientists, Jackson explores the makeup of humankind’s two selves: “one self which is free and open to life and good living” and the other self—the “centred self,” “which limits and constrains us in destructive ways.” (The author uses the British spelling of “centered” throughout.)
At its heart, this book is a look at how God creates meaning through responsibility, autonomy, relationship, and selflessness. These themes are revisited throughout the book as foundations for evidence supporting the author’s ideas. Jackson systematically provides a compelling argument that God operates a collaborative government, rather than ruling as a benevolent dictator (a belief that many hold).
Each chapter opens with a review of what has been covered previously and closes with “So What Does This Mean, and How Do We Pull All This Together?”—guiding readers logically from point to point. Her theology is solid and depth of research impressive.
Hindering a clear grasp of the author’s message, however, is her frequent use of abstract, academic vocabulary. For example, she writes: “What God loves and hates illustrate his recognition of the paramount importance of our subjective frame of reference to how we live and how these choices have positive or negative objective outcomes.”
Jackson’s writing style can make for challenging reading, restricting her audience and, therefore, her contribution to the ongoing discussion about the meaning of life. Regardless, students of philosophy and theology will find Origin of the Centred Self? a valuable addition to their academic libraries.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.