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Souls on the Mind

Susie and I watched the Paul Giamatti film, Cold Souls, last night. This is a powerful meditation on a subject not friendly to our materialistic age: What is the soul?

In the film Giamatti plays himself, but he is struggling, because of personal angst, to master a part in a Chekov play. He decides, on the advice of his agent, to put his soul into storage for a while – just until he gets through this play. He visits a clinic and has his soul extracted – well, 95% of it – and it’s all downhill from there.

Giamatti ends up with another person’s soul and then has to go to Russia to recover his own, with the help of a “soul smuggler” from Russia. I won’t tell you how it ends. See it for yourself.

This film raises every question you’ve ever pondered about the soul. The main value of the film, I think, is that it reminds us that, for all their materialistic and rationalistic blather, our contemporaries know the reality of who they are: They are creatures with souls, which means they participate in an immaterial existence, a spiritual existence, an existence where, at the end of the infinite regression, God is waiting for them.

Cold Souls is neither a comedy nor a tragedy; it defies being set in one particular genre. And, according to the film, picking up on a quote from Descartes, the soul is only mostly immaterial; like anything that’s real it must have some material reality, even if it’s only a chick pea. Right?

But the movie leaves no doubt about the reality and value of the soul. The soul governs the body, shapes our outlook, generates affections, holds our priorities, and pretty much determines just who the heck we are.

So, in case you’re wondering, our contemporaries are aware of the kind of beings they are and, as evidenced in Cold Souls, they have a lot of questions. You and I have the answers – or, at the very least, we know how to talk intelligently about the subject.

T. M. Moore

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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