Existential dread: it’s something many of us try to avoid thinking about, and yet it’s not really avoidable at all. We’re bombarded with this concept in memes, Tweets, movies, and everyday conversations. And then there’s the awareness that we live on a planet that’s floating around in space, surrounded by even bigger planets and stars, surrounded by galaxies that are far too vast for us to conceptually comprehend. Whoa.
In the first episode of her podcast, The Weight of God, host Fareah tackles concepts of existentialism and nihilism through philosophical theory, religious history, and her own soulful insight. Fareah is a student, writer, and an aspiring scholar at U-M. Her work always pushes me to give more generous thought to life’s big questions, and The Weight of God is no exception. This episode, “The Curious Case of the Soul (pt 1),” is a meditation on the meaning of life, and perhaps why we’ve become so disconnected from it.
When you really think about it, everything we do in life can feel kind of absurd. This is the reasoning of philosopher Albert Camus, who also authored “The Myth of Sisyphus.” In this myth, Sisyphus receives a punishment by the Greek gods that sentences him to rolling a boulder up a hill (which rolls back down once it gets to the top) for the rest eternity. Sometimes it feels as though our lives are like Sisyphus: and endless cycle of repetitive tasks—and for what purpose?
Yet, perhaps there is a different way of contemplating our existence—one that feels liberating instead of suffocating. In the second half of the podcast episode, Fareah addresses the origins of civilization’s dissociation from its spiritual core. As she explains, the rise of Western science, philosophy, and industry has brought with it a “radical separation from God.” We often forget that humans used to rely on spirituality in order to make sense of the world and derive value from life. In contemporary Western society, our capitalist economy emphasizes a more materialistic understanding of the world, dictating that an individual’s value comes from the things we own and produce. However, these things are often out of our control, and that lack of control often breeds dread about our ability to survive.
As Fareah explains, this may be a source of our existential fear. The world becomes a burden that must be carried by every individual. Fareah concludes that we’ve lost our spiritual history which used to be a source of meaning, and in its place, we are left with an capitalistic individualism that feels isolating and unstable.
I don’t consider myself to be someone who’s religiously observant, but this podcast definitely made me think about the role of religion in history and in human thought. One of the reasons I found this podcast so engaging was because it didn’t feel like a lecture or a persuasive essay; rather, it felt like an invitation to think alongside Fareah. Furthermore, her expressive voice, emotive storytelling, and inclusion of music brings her “audio immersion journalism,” as she describes it, to life.
Visit The Weight of God website to listen to the podcast and learn more: https://theweightofgod.wixsite.com/twog