Monday, January 11, 2010

Everything Matters!, by Ron Currie, Jr.

The central theme of Everything Matters! is not a new one. It's a concept that has concerned philosophers, theologians, normal people for... well, ever. It's the reason the idea of an afterlife is so appealing, and why a day of judgment in some form is part of so many religions.

The idea: Does what we do on this earth actually matter?

But Currie takes this idea a step further: Would what we do matter at all if we knew the world were going to end, not just someday, but at a given point in our lifetimes?

I may have some grand ideas from time to time on this blog, but even I know better than to tackle that topic head-on. Of course I think what we do matters -- and even if there is some afterlife or a being that will judge us for our actions in this life, that's not why it matters. It's why I'm largely a Vonnegutian humanist -- we have no way of knowing what lies beyond this life, and without religion in the picture it's quite reasonably nothing. But we do have this time, and with that we ought to do what we can to make it the best it can be for as many people as possible.

Without asking Mr. Currie directly, clearly I can't know his personal stance on the matter. But from my reading of this book, and hell, from the title of the book, I have to think he probably agrees with me to a point. What matters in this life isn't -- and shouldn't -- be based on some larger purpose, some hope of eternal reward, even the idea that what we do will affect the rest of the universe. It may be that in the grand scheme, what we do is utterly meaningless. But despite our reaching for the stars, whether or not we are part of some grand scheme, we are without doubt part of some small scheme. And what we do within the sphere of our existence certainly matters.
Also, I am convinced that Currie must be a Kansas City Royals fan. Or, he was just very good at giving the Royals their due for the one decade they deserved it. Either way: Woo!


  1. I like to think that life is more than just a test for some great big after. What we all do should matter because we're doing it now, our actions have effects now, not because we think they will have an effect on some great big beyond forever. That idea seems silly to me. Why should one be punished or rewarded FOREVER for things that we do within a lifespan of typically 100 years?

    And aren't people little badass snots in their childhood? Aren't they forgiven most of the time? Does that count towards their tally? Etc.

  2. My quote of the week on my blog:

    "Even if the world ends tomorrow, I'm going to plant my seed today."

    Martin Luther King

  3. I don't know if I could ever write a book like that. It took a lot of guts.

  4. I was just thinking about this question this morning. What does all this matter if the world is just going to end? It's a disturbing thought. Thank you for posting this review. And for the MLK quote in your comment, Kim. I think I'll check this book out.

  5. This post has definitely got me intrigued about the book, which I remember hearing about at some point. In any case, I enjoyed reading your take on the topic, and I agree, it's really a gutsy idea to take on, particularly in a novel, I think.

  6. Interesting book and tough topic. I like the viewpoints. It semi reminds me of Mitch Alboms The Five People You Meet In Heaven where Eddie's smallest things he's done throughout his life actually meant the world to someone else in a much bigger picture. Adding this one to my wishlist! Great review and interesting food for thought.

  7. I really like the term I think you've coined - the small scheme. It's probably the best goal most of us can hope to attain - to mindfully care for our own little worlds.