Thanks for the answers.
I was at the Necropolis today. And the independence rally in George Square. "That's the reality, brothers and sisters", the speaker kept saying. Scots may recognise the speaker from the catchphrase.
It strikes me that I used to place lots of "purpose" brochures as a JW. We liked it because it posed more profound questions that the "require" brochure or the "paradise" tracts.
But what was the answer?
Many JWs might answer by talking about having eternity to develop talents, explore the planet and, who knows, maybe beyond. But is that really a purpose? It sounds more like retirement. Or rather, it sounds like retirement is imagined to be in a particular moment of late capitalism. Are JWs just baby boomers dreaming of the perfect retirement? Having babies or maintaining eternal marriages doesn't feature strongly in JW thought as it does in Mormonism.
If pushed JWs might add that endless fulfilling work and leisure is not actually the purpose of life. The real purpose is worshipping God. Sounds boring, but if you get a nice feeling in your heart when praying or singing you might imagine it would not be so bad. It's a bit like the Christians we made fun of, who looked forward to sitting on clouds, playing the harp, and praising God.
Besides I thought worshipping God continually was what the seraphs so were created for. That always sounded like a bum deal.
It strikes me that the mere existence of God does not prejudice the possibility of life having a purpose one way or another. The idea that there may be a God, but that life is nevertheless without purpose, is an under explored possibility. And isn't it just as wrong to assume that a universe without God is necessarily without meaning, as it is to assume that a universe with God must have some sort of meaning?
I was thinking all these sorts of things on the journey. And are not journeys the most meaningful thing in life? I prefer the train, but the bus can do. Car is not so good, if you are the driver. I mean it's great for leisure or for work, but not for purpose. I find. Even as a JW, I thought this poem came closer to delivering a meaning to life. (I know I am switching words from purpose to meaning here)
I want to quote the poem not because it contains the correct answer but first I want to wind down watching some YouTube videos and assess the current likelihood Trump will become president and end civilisation. Crichton Smith wrote it on the bus from Oban to Helensburgh, if there was such a bus.
Two Girls Singing by Iain Crichton Smith
It neither was the words nor yet the tune
Any tune would have done and any words.
Any listener at all.
As nightingales in rocks or a child crooning
in its own world of strange awakening
or larks for no reason but themselves.
So on the bus through late November running
by yellow lights tormented, darkness falling,
the two girls sang for miles and miles together
and it wasn't the words or the tune. It was the singing.
It was the human sweetness in that yellow,
the unpredicted voices of our kind.