Chorus is a work of fiction inspired by a true story, a personal tragedy, and by a number of other sources, most notably the Book of Job. The story begins with the death of a woman and an infant child. It then recounts an incredible personal transformation and renewal experienced by the father of that woman and child. The father, Joseph, is compelled to reject and reconsider virtually everything he had ever believed and this process enables him to look at the whole universe from a refreshed perspective. He is forced to re-examine the very basis upon which he perceives his surroundings.
Joseph and his Roman Catholic priest, Joseph’s grief counselor (Father Seymour), engage in a series of discussions as Joseph progresses through grief and depression. These dialogues consider a broad range of philosophical, religious and philosophical issues including the character of God, the tension between dogmatic religious convention and the original spiritual and moral teachings of prophets like Christ, the connection between modern scientific principles and spirituality.
In the process of reinventing himself and refocusing his perception, Joseph conceives an entirely new way to perceive his God – by tossing out the one which he had believed in previously – and a new perspective on religion and spirituality. Another way to state the primary objective of this piece, then, is that it attempts to shatter popular notions about nature of God, at least those which are current in the Judeo-Christian religious traditions and cultures.
The reader is introduced to Seymour’s academic and spiritual colleagues who, like Seymour, are supporters of a world-wide movement (called the Movement) whose goal is to one day unify the religions of the world into one fluid spiritual community that satisfies the spiritual quest of all humans in a contemporary and comprehensive fashion, a unified theory of spirituality akin to the unified theory sought by scientists to reconcile quantum physics with cosmic physics. Ultimately Seymour reveals to Joseph his association with the Movement and Joseph participates in a retreat with Seymour and his colleagues.
Among the consequences of Joseph’s experience, is that he explores some fundamental aspects of meaning and in the course of that exposes the limitations of language. Attempting to do these things by using language is to “deface meaning by using meaning” and presents some particular challenges. In order to convey a sense of that purpose the piece includes interlogues between the chapters written in a non-linear and non-narrative form which may more aptly than common prose express some of these notions. The Chorus interlogues function a little like the chorus in a Greek tragedy or the verse in Boethius: to embellish or provide commentary on the narrative which precedes it.
Many of the chapters are in the form of dialogues, reminiscent of those of Plato and, as will be apparent, the ones which occurs in the Book of Job.
About N.J. Thomas
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Published October 1, 2006
Religion & Spirituality.