Fr. J. Patrick Foley, Ph.D.
Parish Mission and Retreat Leader
The search for meaning, purpose, and direction in life has been the object of thinkers great and small, well known and obscure, throughout the history of human thought. Why? Because there seems to be an intrinsic awareness that there is more to our lives than simple existence, more than the tasks that fill our days or the goals that guide our ambitions.
However this sense of the “more than,” what some writers call “transcendence,” may become confused with the search for power, prestige, position, possessions, and pride that dominates so much of contemporary western culture. Perhaps it is only when the emptiness of those pursuits becomes apparent that the hunger for authentic transcendence can re-emerge and re-direct one’s life.
For some people, it is a time of natural disaster or human catastrophe that brings them to the realization of the lack of ultimate meaning in their lives. For others, the process may be more subtle: an inner restlessness, a chronic dis-ease, an inability to satisfy transcendent hunger by any of the more typically chosen methods.
Richard Southworth is such a man: restless, searching, unsatisfied. His hunger for transcendence – which for the believer is ultimately a hunger for God – has driven him into, and out of, churches, various religious organizations and activities, leaving him frustrated but still searching. Having been his friend, occasional fellow-traveler, and frequent sounding board for almost thirty years, I have often thought that this search possesses him more than he possesses it – and that very quality is proof enough of its authenticity. “The hound of heaven,” to borrow Francis Thompson’s image, pursues us all, whether we recognize it or not. Wisdom is found in that recognition, and in the desire and willingness to remove whatever obstacles stand in the way of such a pursuit.
This book represents what wisdom Richard has found – so far – in his determination to persevere in his search. The journey is uniquely his, but at the same time contains many foundational elements that other searchers will recognize as being necessary and grace-filled for themselves.
If you are such a person – restless, searching, unsatisfied – you have found a worthy companion. Wherever you are now in your search, this book will not leave you there. Prepare to be challenged.
Excerpted from Southworth, Richard N., Choosing Authenticity: Religion Is Not Enough, (Seattle, WA, CreateSpace, 2011), p. xv.