The Meaning of Life (saving the oddist for last)

Meaning of Life

The Meaning of Life And…

  1. Wise Sayings, Interviews, Mythic Journeys

  2. Religion / Secularism

  3. Love, Family, Movies, Sports, Hobbies, Housework, E-mail, Work, Money, Literature

  4. Evolution

  5. Philosophy

  6. Comedy

  7. Psychology, Sociology, Psychotherapy

  8. Seasons of Life

  9. Saving the Oddist for Last


Wise Sayings, Interviews, Mythic Journies

  • The Meaning of Life, ed., Jonathan Gabay (1995) [Produced to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the British Red Cross. All royalties are donated to the charity. For this book, Gabay embarked on a quest to ask “What is the meaning of life?” He asked hundreds of people from around the world and received answers from such diverse figures as the Dalai Lama, Julie Walters, John Harvey-Jones, Ranulph Fiennes, John Gielgud, Mother Theresa and Frank Carson. They feature alongside, for example, the thoughts of teachers, factory workers, and prisoners on death row. Each contribution is introduced with a few words explaining who the author is and what they do and something about their beliefs.]

  • Esquire The Meaning of Life: Wisdom, Humor, and Damn Good Advice from 64 Extraordinary Lives, ed., Ryan DʼAgostino (2009)

  • Vanity Fairʼs Proust Questionnaire: 101 Luminaries Ponder Love, Death, Happiness, and the Meaning of Life, Graydon Carter (2009)

  • The Meaning of Life: Reflections in Words and Pictures on Why We Are Here [The worldʼs most famous and respected people share their thoughts on the meaning of life; their words of wisdom are dispersed among excellent black and white photographs.], David Friend, Life Magazine (1st ed, 1991)

  • The Meaning of Life: A Very Short Introduction, Terry Eagleton (Oxford University Press, 2008)

  • 1001 Thoughts on the Meaning of Life: A Collection of Answers to The Ultimate Question [Kindle Edition], Nichole Force (2011) [not a bad little collection]

  • 100 Lessons on The Meaning of Life in 100 Words or Less [Kindle Edition] Roger Horberry [nice “starter book” on the topic since it covers topics from Christianity to Existentialism in neatly worded paragraphs like reading 100-word haiku.]

  • The Life of Meaning: Reflections on Faith, Doubt, and Repairing the World, eds., Bob Abernethy & William Bole, forward by renowned newsman, Tom Browkaw (2011) [More than 50 contributors (mostly religious) including Jimmy Carter, Francis Collins, The Dalai Lama, Robert Franklin, Irving Greenberg, Seyyed Hossein Nasr, Harold Kushner, Anne Lamott, Madeleine LʼEngle, Thomas Lynch, Martin Marty, Mark Noll, Rachel Remen, Marilynne Robinson, Barbara Brown Taylor, Studs Terkel, Thich Nhat Hanh, Phyllis Tickle, Desmond Tutu, Jean Vanier, and Marianne Williamson.]

  • The Meaning of Life: According to the Great and the Good, ed., Richard Kinnier (2011) [Ten themes emerged: life is to be enjoyed, we are here to help others, the meaning of life is a mystery, life is meaningless, we are here to serve god, life is a struggle, we are here to contribute to society, we are here to seek wisdom and self-actualization, we must create meaning for ourselves, and life is absurd. Arranged by these themes, this book contains an eclectic mix of 250 quotations from “the great and the good.” Some are profound, others are witty.]

  • Worldly Wisdom: Great Books and the Meaning of Life, James Sloan Allen (2008)

  • The Meaning of Life: A Reader, eds., E. D. Klemke, Steven M. Cahn (Oxford University Press, 2007) [essays by philosophers, literary figures and religious thinkers]

    The Meaning of Life, ed., Hugh Moorhead(1988) Chairman of the philosophy department at Northeastern Illinois Univ. corresponded with 700 famous writers and thinkers over the decades, asking them all, “What is the meaning of life?” Buckminster Fuller replied, “Life is a verb.” e.e. cummings referred Moorhead to the line of a poem: “not for philosophy does this rose give a damn.” Others referred him to philosophers. “Nietzsche said: Life is an unprofitable episode that disturbs an otherwise blessed state of non-existence,” or, “Samuel Butler said: Life is like playing a difficult violin solo in public, and learning the instrument as you go along.” Comedian Fred Allen replied. “Life is a slow walk down a long hall that gets darker as you approach the end.” T.S. Eliot autographed a book for Moreland but replied, “Your question is one which one spends one`s whole life in finding the answer for, and Iʼve not yet got to the point where I can sum it all up on a flyleaf.” Distinguished historian Barbara Tuchman, who spent a lifetime studying the epic sweep of human history, suggested, “The meaning of life is what you make of it.”

  • The Real Meaning of Life, David Seaman (2005) [On October 10, 2004, David Seaman, a freshman at New York University, was trying to avoid writing a paper on “God and the cosmic order in Danteʼs universe” for his humanities class. On a whim he typed “What is the meaning of life?” into an online forum. He received a whopping 50,000 hits and 2,000 answers. Click HERE for book excerpts.

  • You Live, You Die, Youʼre Bug Food… And Other Musings on the Meaning of Life, Kirsten Selberg (1998) [Wise words and poetry from people across America that highlight our hopes, fears and phobias, both funny and heart wrenching]

  • Your Mythic Journey: Finding Meaning in Your Life Through Writing and Storytelling, Sam Keen (1989) [well known writer]

  • Myths To Live By, Joseph Campbell [famed scholar and author of books on the history of mythology]

  • A Short History of Myth, Karen Armstrong [2005] Excellent brief introduction to humanityʼs long history of the creation of myths and stories that encompass the meaning of our lives.


Religion / Secularism

  1. Jewish

    • The meaning of life (Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Joshua Loth Liebman
    • The meaning of life as represented in the life sciences and the Jewish heritage, Ephraim Katzir
    • Giving Meaning to Life: Proceedings of a Seminar, Rabbi Harold Kushner
    • Spiritually Dysfunctional: Being the True and Amazing Story of How a Confirmed Jewish Atheist and His Seriously Catholic Wife Explore the Meaning of Life, God, the Universe… , Fred Singer (2006)
  2. Catholic

    • A Pocket Guide to the Meaning of Life, Peter Kreeft [Catholic apologist]
    • The Road Back to God: Lenten Reflections on the Meaning of Life and Faith, Thomas Merton [famed Christian monk, convert, author of the bestseller, The Seven Storey Mountain]
    • Why, Oh Why, My God?: Meditations on Christian Faith and the Meaning of Life, Pierre Abbe & Frederic Lenoir [When Abbe Pierre of the Emmaus communities died at the age 94 on 22 January 2007, the BBC hailed him as “Franceʼs leading champion of the destitute and homeless”. In his final book, “Why, oh why, my God?” Abbe Pierre reflected on his life, faith, vocation and continuing commitment to serving the worldsʼ poor. He also offered insights into todayʼs most pressing religious and social issues. In conversation with Frederic Lenoir in 2004-2005, the abbe took up his long-term reflection on original sin, evil, and the meaning of life. Despite his age and bad health, he was obsessed by many fundamental questions.]
    • Weʼre On a Mission from God: The Generation X Guide to John Paul II, The Catholic Church and the Real Meaning of Life, Mary Beth Bonacci (1996)
  3. Protestant

    • Long Journey Home: A Guide to Your Search for the Meaning of Life, Os Guinness [Evangelical Protestant Christian apologist]

    • The God Question: An Invitation to a Life of Meaning, J.P. Moreland [Evangelical Protestant Christian apologist]

  4. Islamic

    • Why are we here?: A philosophical inquiry into the meaning of life, based upon an esoteric reading of the Koran, Sulaimani

  5. Other Sorts of Christians

    • My religion. On life. Thoughts on God. On the meaning of life, Leo Tolstoy. Also see, The Meaning of Life: Collected from Unpublished Letters and Diaries of Leo Tolstoy [Tolstoy was the famed Russian author of War and Peace who left the Russian Orthodox Church to go back to God]

    • Lev Nikolaevich Tolstoy and Emile Zola On the Meaning of Life: Pessimism, Religion, and the Individual in History, Francis Pfost Jr. (LAP LAMBERT Academic Publishing, 2010) [Lev Nikolaevich Tolstoy (1828-1910) of Russia and Emile Zola (1840-1902) of France, were haunted by the same philosophical problem, the individualʼs relation to God and the universe and the purpose of his relatively short life in it. Although Tolstoy and Zola took different approaches to this problem in their literary work, both were profoundly affected by pessimism and lack of faith in institutional religion in their lifelong search for answers to humanityʼs greatest question and to the seeming hopelessness of the individual to affect history or even his own fate. How these two great writers and thinkers of yesteryear approached the fundamental question of the meaning of human life and what they discovered present an instructive guide for people of any age, of any epoch, of any era, of any time.]

    • The Meaning of Life, S. L. Frank (1877–1950) [The author was an early theoretical opponent of Marxism and Soviet communism, but became a leading figure of the Russian religious renaissance in the early twentieth century. The Meaning of Life (published in Russian in 1925) is a distillation of Frankʼs bitter experience of the years of Revolution and post-Revolution exile, written shortly after Lenin forced many of Russiaʼs leading thinkers to leave the country.

    • Talking About God: Exploring the Meaning of Religious Life With Kierkegaard, Buber, Tillich and Heschel (Center for Religious Inquiry) Daniel F. Polish, Ph.D. (2010)

  6. Eastern

  7. Agnostic

  8. Atheistic


Love, Family, Movies, Sports, Hobbies, Housework, E-mail, Money, Literature

  • Meaning in Life and Why It Matters (The University Center for Human Values), Susan Wolf (Princeton University Press, 2012) [Often we act neither for our own sake nor out of duty or an impersonal concern for the world. Rather, we act out of love for objects that we rightly perceive as worthy of love—and it is these actions that give meaning to our lives. Wolf makes a compelling case that, along with happiness and morality, this kind of meaningfulness constitutes a distinctive dimension of a good life. Written in a lively and engaging style, and full of provocative examples, Meaning in Life and Why It Matters is a profound and original reflection on a subject of permanent human concern.]

  • Big Appetite: My Southern-Fried Search for the Meaning of Life, Sam McLeod (2012) [Sam surveys his childhood home and comes to understand that his memories, and the food that carried the love of the women who cooked it, are all he needs to know the meaning of life. Or, to put it another way, per the insights of comedian Cathy Ladman, All the worldʼs religions are just the same guilt with different holidays. “God I feel guilty…Letʼs eat!”]

  • The Motherʼs Guide to the Meaning of Life: What Iʼve Learned in My Never-Ending Quest to Become a Dalai Mama, Amy Krouse Rosenthal

  • The Fatherʼs Guide to the Meaning of Life: What Being a Dad Has Taught Me About Hope, Love, Patience, Pride, and Everyday Wonder, Joe Kita (2000)

  • Movies and the Meaning of Life: The Most Profound Films in Cinematic History, Wayne Omura (2011)

  • Movies and the Meaning of Life, eds., Kimberly Ann Blessing, Paul J. Tudico (2005)

  • Skydivers Guide to Religion and the Meaning of Life, Mike Jones (2012)[Reminds me a bit of Alan Wattsʼ view, “Faith is an openness and trusting attitude to truth and reality, whatever it may turn out to be. This is a risky and adventurous state of mind. Belief, in the religious sense, is the opposite of faith-because it is a fervent wishing or hope, a compulsive clinging to the idea that the universe is arranged and governed in such and such a way. Belief is holding to a rock; faith is learning how to swim-and this whole universe swims in boundless space.”]

  • Surfing And the Meaning of Life, Ben Marcus

  • Tennis and the Meaning of Life: A Literary Anthology of the Game, ed., Jay Jennings

  • Baseball And The Meaning Of Life, Josh Leventhal

  • The New York Mets and the Meaning of Life, Alexander J. Basile

  • The Golferʼs Guide to the Meaning of Life: Lessons Iʼve Learned from My Life on the Links, Gary Player

  • The Horsemanʼs Guide to the Meaning of Life: Lessons Iʼve Learned from Horses, Horsemen, and Other Heroes, Don Burt

  • Fish, Fishing and the Meaning of Life, Jeremy Paxman

  • Fly Fishing And the Meaning of Life, Wade N. Brooks

  • The Fly Fishermanʼs Guide to the Meaning of Life: What a Lifetime on the Water Has Taught Me about Love, Work, Food, Sex, and Getting Up Early, Peter Kaminsky

  • Catch and Release: Trout Fishing and the Meaning of Life, Mark Kingwell

  • The River Why. Twentieth-Anniversary Edition [a novel about the meaning of life with a great little parable summing up the lesson at the very end, a lesson like the one in the Book of Job but funnier and odder], David Duncan

  • Malibu : Hiking Along the Meaning of Life, Michael Banks

  • The Runnerʼs Guide to the Meaning of Life: What 35 Years of Running Have Taught Me About Winning, Losing, Happiness, Humility, and the Human Heart, Amby Burfoot

  • Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values [bestselling father-son novel about the meaning of life] by Robert M. Pirsig

  • Cleaning and the Meaning of Life: Simple Solutions to Declutter Your Home and Beautify Your Life, Paula Jhung

  • The Underdog: Seeking the Meaning of Life in the Worldʼs Most Outlandish Competitions, Joshua Davis

  • Small Furry Hope: Dog Rescue and the Meaning of Life, Steven Kotler

  • He Mail / She Mail: The Meaning of Life in E-Mail, Elliot Grant, Christine Whiteraven Olinger (1998)

  • Work: The Meaning of Your Life, Lester DeKoster (Christianʼs Library Press — Where do we find the core of lifeʼs meaning? Right on the job! At whatever work we do — with head or hand, from kitchen to executive suite, from your house to the White House! “Work is the great equalizer — everyone has to come to it in order to find meaning in living: no short cuts, no detours, no bargain rates.”]

  • Money and the Meaning of Life, Jacob Needleman (1994)

  • The Nature of Risk: Stock Market Survival and the Meaning of Life, Justin Mamis

  • Better Happy Than Rich?: Canadians, Money and the Meaning of Life, Michael Adams (2002)

  • Adland: Searching for the Meaning of Life on a Branded Planet, James P. Othmer (2010)

  • The Meaning Of Life, Bradley Trevor Greive (2002) [slim colorful book of inspiring photos and entertaining prose]

  • Listen to Me: Writing Life into Meaning, Lynn Lauber (W. W. Norton & Company, 2003) [includes lessons in “writing out of revenge,” as well as “writing to heal”]

  • Looking for the Meaning of Life in the Postmodern Age: The Effects of Technology and Media on Re-constructing Identity, Gülce Trak (LAP Lambert Academic Publishing, 2010) [An analysis of the postmodernist author Douglas Couplandʼs fiction as an example of how the possibility of looking for the meaning of life is addressed in the postmodern novel. It specifically focuses on Generation X, Microserfs, JPod and The Gum Thief to analyze the effects of technology and media on individuals? identity development in terms of different perspectives that might play an important role in the process. It explores the marketability of identity, daily life and relationships to find out about the twenty-first century identity and the search for the meaning of life represented in these novels. It aims to show that the modern humans are highly influenced and manipulated by media and technology. As a result, the meaning of contemporary life is in a continuous re-construction process which complicates and even makes it impossible to find a definite answer to the question ?who am I?]

  • The Problematic of Vonnegutʼs Protagonists: Search for Meaning of Life, Dr. Ravinder Singh (LAP LAMBERT Academic Publishing, 2012) [This English Prof. with a doctorate in Kurt Vonnegut studies, has published research articles in journals of international repute. Writers like William Burroughs, Norman Mailer, Thomas Pynchon, Jerzy Kosinski, John Hawkes, Kurt Vonnegut etc. went on weaving their novelistic narratives and spinning their fictional heroes in a synthesized and fabulatory manner. The reader now has to negotiate a new compendium of central protagonists who came to be presented as existential explorers across an agonizing spectrum of deculture, materialism, dehumanization and the profanities of highly provocative metropolitan living.]


Evolution

  • Sex, Murder, and the Meaning of Life

    A Psychologist Investigates How Evolution, Cognition, and Complexity are Revolutionizing our View of Human Nature by Douglas Kenrick (2011) [Although our heads are full of simple selfish biases that evolved to help our ancestors survive, modern human beings are anything but simple and selfish cavemen. Kenrick argues that simple and selfish mental mechanisms we inherited from our ancestors ultimately give rise to the multifaceted social lives that we humans lead today, and to the most positive features of humanity, including generosity, artistic creativity, love, and familial bonds. And out of those simple mechanisms emerge all the complexities of society, including international conflicts and global economic markets. By exploring the nuance of social psychology and the surprising results of his own research, Kenrick offers a detailed picture of what makes us caring, creative, and complex—that is, fully human.]

  • Darwin, God and the Meaning of Life: How Evolutionary Theory Undermines Everything You Thought You Knew, Steve Stewart-Williams (Cambridge University Press, 2010) Recʼd high praise from atheist reviewers.

  • The Brain and the Meaning of Life, Paul Thagard (Princeton University Press; Reprint ed., 2012) [draws on research in philosophy, psychology, and neuroscience to answer some of the most pressing questions about lifeʼs nature and value]

  • Paradoxical Life: Meaning, Matter, and the Power of Human Choice

    Prof. Andreas Wagner Ph.D (Yale University Press, 2011)[explores the hidden web of unimaginably complex interactions in every living being. In the process, he unveils a host of paradoxes underpinning our understanding of modern biology, contradictions he considers gatekeepers at the frontiers of knowledge. Though we tend to think of concepts in such mutually exclusive pairs as mind-matter, self-other, and nature-nurture, Wagner argues that these opposing ideas are not actually separate. Indeed, they are as inextricably connected as the two sides of a coin. Through a tour of modern biological marvels, Wagner illustrates how this paradoxical tension has a profound effect on the way we define the world around us. Paradoxical Life is thus not only a unique account of modern biology. It ultimately serves a radical—and optimistic—outlook for humans and the world we help create.]

  • Nature Is Enough: Religious Naturalism and the Meaning of Life, Loyal Rue (State Univ of New York Press, 2011)

  • Darwinʼs Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings of Life, Daniel C. Dennett (1996)

  • Dawkinsʼ God: Genes, Memes, And The Meaning Of Life, Alister McGrath (2004) [from an Evangelical Christian viewpoint]

  • Power, Sex, Suicide : Mitochondria and the Meaning of Life, Nick Lane (2005)

  • Evolution Extended: Biological Debates on the Meaning of Life, ed., Connie Barlow (The MIT Press; Reprint edition, 1995)

  • The Meaning of Life: As shown in the process of evolution, (The forum series) by renowned philosopher, C. E. M Joad (Watts & Co. 1928)

  • The FIFTH MIRACLE: The Search for the Origin and Meaning of Life, Paul Davies (2000)


Philosophy

  • Meaning of Life: Oxford Bibliographies Online Research Guide [Kindle Edition], Thaddeus Metz (Oxford University Press, 2010)

  • Whatʼs It All About? : Philosophy and the Meaning of Life, Julian Baggini [editor of Philosophy Now magazine, and philosophy blogger] (2005)

  • Exploring the Meaning of Life: An Anthology and Guide, ed., Joshua W. Seachris (Wiley-Blackwell, 2012)

  • Ancient Wisdom, Timeless Truths-Immortal Philosophers Discuss the Meaning of Life, ed., Jude Patterson (2003)

  • Meaning of Life, Julia Tao, Hektor K. T. Yan (McGraw-Hill Education (Asia), 2005) [Dialogues, philosophical stories, thought experiments, illustrations and literary and dramatic works are employed to make this book a highly accessible introduction. This way of doing philosophy offers a pleasurable experience for those who are encountering philosophy seriously for the first time in their life. Primarily written as an undergraduate textbook, Meaning of Life can also be adopted in secondary schools. It provides lessons in moral reasoning, conceptual analysis and philosophical evaluation of the good life in both the West and the East, from Aristotelian and Christian to Confucian and Daoist traditions.]

  • Meaning in Life: The Creation of Value (The Irving Singer Library) (Volume 1), Irving Singer (The MIT Press; Reprint ed., 2009) Part of a three volume set on the topic by a renowned philosopher.

  • Manʼs Search for Ultimate Meaning, Viktor E. Frankl (2000)

  • Meaning: A Play Based on the Life of Viktor E. Frankl by Rubin Battino (2002)

  • On the Meaning of Life (Wadsworth Philosophers Series) by Garrett Thomson (2002)

  • The Meaning of Life & Other Essays by the famed logical positivist and atheist philosopher, A. J. Ayer (who had a Near Death Experience for four minutes in which he passed through something like the River Styx in Greek mythology, and met two beings whom he described as “Masters of the Universe,” and shook his watch at them to try and remind them to fix something to do with time and space, because something was out of whack and they had not done their job properly. For Ayerʼs story click HERE. Ayer did not come to believe in eternal life after death, though people close to him report that he grew kinder after his NDE, and spent more time with his Catholic friend and debate opponent Frederick Coplestone during the remaining year left in Ayerʼs life.)

  • The Physics of Consciousness: The Quantum Mind and the Meaning of Life [A widely published physicist, mostly in scientific journals, he reports having had a Zen enlightenment experience in 1966 while walking in an open field at the University of Maryland. This propelled him on a quest to rethink quantum mechanics. This digressive, maverick tome, which opens the door to paranormal phenomena and God as “Quantum Mind,” will appeal more to serious investigators and philosophical types than to general readers seeking the purported spiritual implications of the new physics.] by Evan Harris, Ph.D. Walker, Evan Harris Walker (2000)

  • Self Expressions: Mind, Morals, and the Meaning of Life (Philosophy of Mind Series) [Brings together the latest insights of neuroscience, cognitive science, and psychiatry. Essays discuss whether the conscious mind can be explained scientifically, whether dreams are self-expressive or just noise, the moral socialization of children, and the nature of psychological phenomena. Ultimately, Flanagan concludes that a naturalistic view of the self need not lead to nihilism, but rather to a liberating vision of personal identity which makes sense of agency, character transformation, and the value and worth of human life] by Owen Flanagan (Oxford University Press, USA; Reprint edition, 1998)

  • No Excuses: Existentialism and The Meaning of Life (The SuperStar Teachers Series) [AUDIOBOOK] by Professor Robert Solomon (1993)

  • The Meaning of Life: An article from: Skeptic [magazine] by David Naiditch (2000)

  • Deleuze and the Meaning of Life (Continuum Studies in Continental Philosophy), Claire Colebrook (Continuum, 2011) [from a reviewer, “a dazzling articulation of a new line of vitalism, a fundamentally passive vitalism, that always puts life out of alignment with itself and that affirms the virtual forces of becoming-other that inhere in life.” I wonder how many people understand Deleuze or even that line by the reviewer?]

  • Nothingness and the Meaning of Life (International Library of Contemporary Philosophy), Waghorn Nicholas (2013)


Comedy

  • The Meaning Of Life [Screenplay] by Graham Chapman from Monty Pythonʼs Flying Circus (2002)

    A modest proposal * on “The Meaning of Life”: (with apologies to Monty Python). : An article from: Global Virtue Ethics Review by Jonathan Anderson (2003)

  • Love, Sex, Death, and the Meaning of Life: The Films of Woody Allen by Foster Hirsch

  • Life, the Universe and Everything by Douglas Adams (a book in the Hitchhikerʼs Guide to the Galaxy series)

  • The Meaning of Life and Other Awesome Cosmic Revelations (Drumm Booklet, No. 30) [an imaginative science fiction story about the meaning of life that explains that the cosmos is one big reality contest in which the last species standing at the time of the cosmosʼs death gets invited to join other species in another dimension who were also the last survivors in each of their own cosmoses, but in this short story the survivors of our cosmos are angry at all the suffering and inter-galactic battles and planets filled with life that exploded as the cosmos neared its death and so the latest winners of the reality show enter the higher dimension with a tremendous chip on their shoulder, and begin waging war against all the other uncaring species that simply watched as sentient beings were tortured in the most brutal contest imaginable.] by Darrell Schweitzer (1989)

  • The Lifebox, the Seashell, and the Soul: What Gnarly Computation Taught Me About Ultimate Reality, the Meaning of Life, and How to Be Happy [Timothy Leary meets Bill Gates, part memoir of a life spent teaching mathematical logic, part history of computer science, but mostly a long, strange quest for the meaning of life.] by Rudy Rucker [mathematical logician, science fiction novelist, and distant relation of the philosopher Hegel!] (2006)

  • Quest for the Meaning of Life, Mark Marrone (2002)

  • Ed Nortonʼs Secrets to the Meaning of Life (The Honeymooners), Peter Crescenti

  • The Purse-driven Life: It Really Is All About Me, Anita Renfroe (2005)

  • Audible.com: The Meaning of Life in 5 Easy Lessons (To the Best of Our Knowledge Series) by Jim Fleming, (2005) Wisconsin Public Radio. This special To The Best of Our Knowledge series contains five programs:

    1. In the Beginning— Where do we come from? Fair question. Religious scholar Stephen Mitchell says the answer lies in humanityʼs different creation myths. Theoretical physicist Michio Kaku says weʼre the reverb of a Big Bang from another universe. And, midwifery guru Ina May Gaskin gets down to where each one of us really comes from—mom.

    2. Why Bother?—Catholic-nun-turned-unbeliever Karen Armstrong describes her path back to God. Cinema Nirvana: enlightenment lessons from Hollywood. Also, Parker Palmer on how to keep going when life stops making sense. And, that good old existentialist, Charlie Brown.

    3. Are We Having Fun Yet?—At nearly 70, one high school English teacher discovers the joys of sex. Poet Billy Collins stops to smell the roses while our host, Jim Fleming, goes to Paris for a scrumptious chocolate tour. And, to the woods we go, playing jazz for the birds.

    4. Regrets—Pete Best has a few… He had Ringoʼs job just months before the Beatlesʼ first hit “Love Me Do” came out. Also, world-renowned concert pianist Leon Fleisher reflects on the disease that destroyed his right hand. And, one man sets out to apologize to the descendants of his familyʼs slaves.

    5. The End—What happens when we die? Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen says much more than you think. Novelist Jim Crace says nothing, nothing at all. Also, Amy Tanʼs story of the murder that shaped her life as a writer. And, whistle a tune at the Grim Reaper with Monty Pythonʼs Eric Idle.


Psychology, Social Psychology, Psychotherapy

  • The Belief Instinct: The Psychology of Souls, Destiny, and the Meaning of Life

    Jesse Bering (W. W. Norton & Company; Reprint ed., 2012) [Voted one of the Top 25 Books of 2011 by the American Library Association, Choice Reviews. Named one of the 11 Best Psychology Books of 2011 by The Atlantic.

  • The Meanings of Life by Roy F. Baumeister (1992) — “Eminent social scientist explores what empirical studies from diverse fields tell us about the human condition. Draws together evidence from psychology, history, anthropology, and sociology, integrating copious research findings into a clear and conclusive discussion of how people attempt to make sense of their lives. Lively and accessible style, emphasizing facts over theories, explores why people desire meaning in their lives, how these meanings function, what forms they take, and what happens when life loses meaning. Reviews what the social sciences say about such matters as happiness, suffering, and death. Explores peopleʼs need for a sense of purpose, values, control over their lives, and a sense of self worth. Divorce and religious conversion are also examined. Discusses myths of fulfillment, illusions of eternity, the suppression of female sexuality, the failure of the work ethic, why death is more threatening to us than it was to our ancestors, and how suffering stimulates the quest for meaning. Demonstrates how happiness depends more upon oneʼs interpretation than actual circumstances, and shows that the keys to happiness are attitude, judicious comparison, a bit of luck and a healthy dose of self-deception.”

  • Development and Validation of the Meaning in Life Questionnaire Dissertation by Michael F. Steger (2006)

  • Momma and the Meaning of Life: Tales of Psychotherapy by Irvin D. Yalom (2000)

  • Finding Meaning in Life: Logotherapy (Master Work) by Joseph B. Fabry, et al (1995)

  • Self-Esteem and Meaning: A Life-Historical Investigation (Suny Series in Transpersonal and Humanistic Psychology) by Michael R. Jackson (1984)

  • Self-Behaviorism: The Role of Repetition in the Meaning of Life by Matt Berry (2000)

  • Depression: Finding Hope and Meaning in Lifeʼs Darkest Shadow (Critical Concern Series) by Donald R. Baker, Emery Nester


The Seasons of Life

  • The Philosophical Baby: What Childrenʼs Minds Tell Us About Truth, Love, and the Meaning of Life

    Alison Gopnik (2010) [The author is a bestselling author, see her other book, The Scientist in the Crib, and professor of psychology at the University of California at Berkeley, and an internationally recognized leader in the study of childrenʼs learning and development and was the first to argue that childrenʼs minds could help us understand deep philosophical questions. She was one of the founders of the study of “theory of mind”, illuminating how children come to understand the minds of others, and she formulated the “theory theory”, the idea that children learn in the same way that scientists do.]

  • The Mythic Journey: The Meaning of Myth as a Guide for Life

    Liz Greene, Juliet Sharman-Burke (2000) [“For centuries human beings have used myths, fairytales and folklore to explain lifeʼs mysteries and make them bearable—from why the seasons change, through complex relationship issues, to the enigma of death.” With this lofty purpose in mind, the authors organized this collection of myths according to the stages of human development. For example, part 1 is titled “In the Beginning” and takes us through the early lessons of life—“Parents and Children,” “Siblings,” and “The Family Inheritance.” Follow-up sections include “Becoming an Individual,” “Love and Relationships,” “Position and Power,” and finally “Rites of Passage.” The authors offer diverse myths beneath each heading. Within a section on “Leaving Home” we find the myths of Adam and Eve, The Buddhaʼs Departure, and Peredur the Son of Evrawc (a Celtic myth about finding the courage to leave a mother). The research and storytelling are topnotch, but what makes this lavishly illustrated guidebook stand out is the commentary that follows each myth, which explains the advice and guidance within these age-old tales.]

  • Morning, Noon, and Night: Finding the Meaning of Lifeʼs Stages Through Books

    Arnold Weinstein (Random House, 2011) [The author uses great works of literature to teach us about growing up and growing old, coming-of-age and surrendering to time.]

    With wisdom, humor, and moving personal observations, Weinstein leads us to look deep inside ourselves and these great books, to see how we can use art as both mirror and guide.

  • On Philosophy of Life: A Kaleidoscope (Seasons of Life, Seasons of Life-Volume Two) by eds., Kenneth L. Pike, Sharon Heimbach (1997 Summer Institute of Linguistics, 1997)

  • Young Peopleʼs Ideas about God, Religion and the Meaning of Life by Elizabeth Nowotny

  • The meaning of life among secondary school pupils: A theoretical framework and some initial results (Research bulletin / Dept. of Education, University of Helsinki) by Hannele Niemi

  • Making a Life in Yorkville : Experience and Meaning in the Life Course, Narrative of an Urban Working-Class Man (The Life Course and Aging) by Gerald Handel (, 2003)

  • Punks Find the Meaning of Life and…Death by Jr. Joseph Binge-Purge, Dr. Max Grody (Illustrator) (1983)

  • Autumn Wisdom: Finding Meaning in Lifeʼs Later Years (Willowgreen Series.) by James E. Miller

  • Is More Life Always Better? The New Biology of Aging And The Meaning of Life. : An article from: The Hastings Center Report by David Gems (Digital - July 1, 2003)


Saving the Oddist For Last

  • A Look At Life From A Deer Stand: Hunting For The Meaning Of Life, Steve Chapman (2005) [more than 280,000 copies sold, about how the skills necessary for great hunting can help draw people closer to the Lord]
  • Dinosaurs of Eden, Tracing the Mystery Through History - Learning the True History of the Earth, a Discovering the Very Meaning and Purpose of Life - Children Ages 8 and Up - Hardcover - First Edition, 8th Printing 2009 (Join us on this journey to the very beginning of time — when Dinosaurs Roamed the Garden of Eden)
    by Ken Ham (Director of the Creation Museum in Kentucky)
  • On the meaning of life: An oncologistʼs unification of Christianity, quantum physics, relativity theory, and common sense, Mark Tungesvik
  • AD 2036 IS THE END: The Truth About the Second Coming of Christ and the Meaning of Life, Christian T. Jacobsen

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