Thursday, April 20, 2006


Title of a novel by Richard Bach, who also wrote Jonathan Livingston Seagull:
ONE belongs to a venerable genre of mythopoeic works including among many others The Divine Comedy, The Aeneid, Pilgrims Progress, The Ring Trilogy, the fantasies of C.S. Lewis and Lilith.

The story has as its central thesis the oneness of the human race. A Christian might legitimately consider it as a commentary and elaboration of the 17th Chapter of John, where Jesus prayed that we might all become one as he and the Father were.

A sub-thesis, subordinate only to oneness is the place of love as the summum bonum of life. Bach does little to explicate the glowing height of love between the soulmates, Richard and Leslie (taken of course from the real Richard Bach and his wife Leslie). It became more problematic when the real lovers divorced some time after the book's publication.

(Bach had a very rational explanation-- namely that soulmates don't last forever; I suppose he claimed several and proved to be given to the Hollywood malady of serial monogamy. IMHO writers of really good novels too often seem to expend too much of their own goodness on their fiction.)

As a commentary on John 17 I did find it convincing. "We are members one of another."
Whether Jesus identified his 'neighbor' with his 'other self', I don't know, but to me it seems likely.

Love God, neighbor, and self: the atheist Erich Fromm found that ineluctable truth, and perhaps Richard Bach, whatever his faith or absence thereof was, had found it, too.

Do our intellectual propositions about God matter that much? Mine does, but I have to wonder about Fromm and Bach.

Thanks to my dear friend, Julie, for putting me on to this interesting topic.


isaiah said...

A favorite author of mine, Bach...his "Illusions" was instrumental in opening my eyes to greater questions and also greater answers. I'll have to check out "One".

"Do our intellectual propositions about God matter that much?"

Well I don't know, but I choose to see our propositions as acts of "worship."

Larry said...

Thanks, Isaiah. Glad to find another ONE fan.

Re your mantra: hurrah. BTW which Laurel Creek; there are several in Carolina. Many years ago we camped at Elkmont, and late a night I could actually hear music on Little River.

There is a Laurel Creek in S.C. that feeds into Lake Jocasee. We lived below Jocassee 88-99. We moved to N.C. in 61 because we had been just existing between our trips to the Smokies.

But the sea has a greater hold on me now-- always changing.

NC is great; SC better; FL best.

isaiah said...

Big Laurel Creek near Hot Springs, NC. It's a fast wild-water stream cutting a gorge 1,200 feet deep between Mill Ridge on the north and Walnut Knob on the south. It empties into the French Broad above Hot Springs.

Jocasse is awesome! The mountains are great- the ocean, well it's not so bad either... there are worse places one could choose to live :) My attraction with the mountains is because...I've been here at the ocean for so long.

Larry said...

Hot Springs. right! I was scheduled to move there as the Meth. pastor ca 1978, but stayed in D.C. instead.

isaiah said...

Wow! What a small world- Hot Springs and the area is one of the most inspiring places I know of! Population 689 the French Broad with all it's great white water, Max Patch, Painted Creek, Black Stack, and Big Laurel....

It's where I'll retire one day!

Larry said...

You couldn't do any better. We used to dream about getting a piece of property on the A.T. where we could provide aid and comfort to the hikers.

david said...

I remember being blown away by Seagull and then being strangely disappointed by by Illusions. I think I had grown -- not so much spiritually but in how I conceived of spirituality by Illusions -- and the anti-realist propsoition didn't speak to me. I just don't think being anti-materialst necessarily makes you spiritual.

I haven't read One. Perhaps I might.

Larry said...

Thanks, David. I'm about to post on Illusions. What most impressed me about it was the libertarian strain. I have a thing about those people. It seems that too often, as in Illusions, it comes through like a cop out re social responsibility: "if they are poor, it's their fault".

I find more and more that I measure everything by the quality of love (agape) or apparent absence thereof.

xianchick said...

Erich Fromm rocks, Alan Watts is an avatar, William Blake should rule the world... but Jonathan Livingston Seagull? Is that supposed to be some kind of a joke? Seriously, is it?

anonymous julie said...

This thing with the divorce has been on my back burner for some time, but I have made some conclusion. Richard and Leslie let something be more important than each other... people make choices.

Also, I should re-read J.L.S.

Larry said...

what the heck?