42, The Answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything (c)1993 Common Faith Chapel, ULC All

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42, The Answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything (c)1993 Common Faith Chapel, ULC All Rights Reserved Rev. Karin Conover-Lewis, D.D. March, 1993 ______________________________________ In Douglas Adam's "The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy", a highly-advanced race of people built a gigantic computer in order to find the answer to a question. That question was "What is the answer?" When pressed by the computer to be more specific, they narrowed the question down to something very simple. "Deep Thought", they said (that was the name of the computer, you see) "Deep Thought, what is the meaning of Life, the Universe, and Everything!?" Well, Deep Thought pondered the question for a moment, then informed the scientists that they would have to be patient, because such a question would take a while to work-out; seven- and-a-half million years, to be precise. So the Highly Advanced Civilisation waited patiently while Deep Thought worked on the question, until the momentous day finally arrived when the Greatest Computer in the Universe was to have the answer to the Biggest Question in the Universe. The scientists gathered around, counting down the minutes and seconds, until at last! With no great fanfare Deep Thought churned and clicked and spit out the answer to the question which had occupied the minds of an entire race of people for eons. "42." Excuse me? "The answer to your question is 42." Needless to say, the scientists from the Highly Advanced Civilisation were just a tad put-off by this answer, and began to question the computational abilities of the Greatest Computer in the Universe. Deep Thought spoke up. "Perhaps", it said, "Perhaps you didn't ask the right question". We ask a lot of questions while we go through our lives, but the single question that keeps coming back is "why?". "What does it all mean?". "What is the meaning to Life, the Universe, and Everything!?". We keep going back to that question; we keep searching for the answer, because we can't accept that our lives are entirely without meaning. We can't accept that our lives are entirely without a purpose. We have to know that it all means *something*, and we want to know what that *something* is. We want to know that there is an overall plan to the universe, that our lives make some sort of sense. We want to know that our lives will serve some purpose, that some good will come from our being on this earth for the fraction of a second that we are here. Because if our lives don't mean anything, then "what is the whole point!?". This question comes to us most often when we are at our lowest - when our lives seem to be going compleatly in the wrong direction, when we seem to have lost all control over what happens to us, when we are in the depths of despair and we don't think that we can take any more, when we cry out to God and demand to know "WHY!!???". But are we truly asking the right question? Are we like Douglas Adams' scientists, asking vague questions and being annoyed by vague answers? If we ask questions that have no answers, what should we expect? Every grade-school child in America knows the answer to that one... "Ask a silly question, get a silly answer!" We *know* that our lives have meaning - but exactly what is it? Is it to grab all the money and posessions that we can, to be the most successful person that the world has ever seen? Is it power and glory? Does it all come down to "he who dies with the most toys, wins"? Okay, but if that's it, then there's no point, because you can't take it with you! Well, if we're not here to collect toys, maybe it's something else. Is the purpose of our lives simply to get to heaven, no matter what we have to do, no matter how we have to suffer along the way? Are we living lives where what happens to us after we are dead is more important than what we do while we are living? Is our only goal in life not really life at all, but achieving some vague but "guaranteed to knock your socks off" reward after death? What's the point of that? Are we really to believe that the entire universe is set up in a reward and punishment scheme, in which a person's actions during the 75-or-so years spent on the earth determine their fate for all eternity? Or, even worse, their actions don't have any influence in the matter at all - instead it's all based upon whether or not they subscribe to a particular religion while they are alive? C'mon... there has to be a better answer than *that*! Well, yes - there is a *much* better answer. "Ours is the responsibility of conserving, transmitting, rectifying, and expanding the heritage of values that those who come after us may receive it more solid and secure, more widely accessible and more generously shared than we have received it...". This is the main tenent of the Common Faith. We *do* have a purpose here, and our lives *do* make a difference. It's not important that we know the secrets of "the big picture". What comes after this life will come whether we spend this lifetime worrying about it or not. We are far better-off to concern ourselves with *this* life, with *this* world - because that is our primary purpose. That is the reason we are here! We can have a positive influence on the earth, and make certain that we leave a better world for our children, or we can have a negative influence, passing on a world that isn't fit for pond scum. It is in how we conduct our daily lives that this decision is made - if we care for the environment, if we take care of the creatures that share the planet with us, if we treat all of humanity with decency, with love, and with respect, we will help to make the world better for those who come after us. We must refuse to remain silent when we see wrong happening in the world. When we see people being oppressed, we must do what we can to prevent it from continuing - in this, our lives have meaning. When governments lie to their citizens in vain attempts to retain their power over those people, we must expose the truth - in this, our lives have meaning. When citizens of any country lay starving in the streets, racked with sickness and disease, infested with parasites, we must feed and shelter them - in this, our lives have meaning. In all that we do, we must look not to reward or punishment, but to that which is right - that which is truth. We must always strive to do the right thing, even in the face of overwhelming opposition. Only when we resolve to do that which is truly right, that which is morally sound, unshaken by any fear of the consequences for our actions, will we truly find the answer to "Life, the Universe, and Everything". _____________________________________________________________________ Produced and distributed by Common Faith Chapel, ULC International Headquarters: Rev. Karin Conover-Lewis, D.D., Pastor 711 W. Colorado Ave, Trinidad, CO 81082 (719)846-8539 This file may be distributed freely, provided that it is not edited or altered in any way, and provided also that copyright and source information is left intact. Distributing Bulletin Board Systems may append their own information after this notice, only.

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