JOHN ARMISTEAD: Defining the soul and its destiny is not always an exact art

I was trying to explain the mindlessness of a movie my two sons and I saw in a small Arkansas town last weekend.

“It was called 2 Fast 2 Furious,'” I said. “Basically, there were a lot of cars zooming around all over the place, and jumping in between 100-mile-an-hour plus action was some sort of improbable plot.”

We were at Japhy Ryder's place. He was having a soiree, introducing us to some of his more exotic menus.

“I think you have to be younger – a lot younger – to fully appreciate that kind of movie,” said Anne Hathaway.

“But did you all catch a lot of fish?” asked Nemo.

“The most fun one was caught after we got home,” I said. “My grandson Ethan and his daddy and I went to the pond, and baited up a pole for Ethan. In less than a minute, he caught his very first fish. I think he's hooked for life.”

“Fishing is an honorable vocation or avocation,” said Lit Turgy. “Did you ever stop and consider at least a third of Jesus' disciples were professional fishermen?”

“I find fishing absolutely boring,” said Gertrude Stein. “What's in this punch? Peanut butter ice cream?”

“It's only boring when you're not catching anything,” said the Rev. Sojo Urnertruth. “When the fish are biting you never want to go home.”

“Maybe that's why some people find church boring,” said the Rev. Bubba Voltaire. “Jesus said his followers were to be fishers of men, but if you ain't fishing, you're not being obedient to him. The result is always boredom.”

“What exactly is fishing for men supposed to mean?” asked Sissy.

“Winning souls,” said Pharis Aical. “Casting out the net of the gospel and pulling them in.”

“And what precisely does winning souls' mean?” asked Dio Genes. “Is it the same as convincing minds?”

“I would think so,” said Sappho. “I don't think the soul, as it were, can ever be won over without the mind. And where the mind goes, the body is sure to follow. Doesn't that make sense?”

“But the body can't go to heaven,” said Pharis. “We're talking about the soul.”

“Please help yourself,” said Japhy. “I don't want any leftovers.”

“And what is the soul?” asked Anne.

“It is the immortal part of each person,” said Voltaire.

“That's the understanding in Greek philosophy, but not in biblical thought,” said Sojo. “The biblical idea was that soul was the life force in a living being rather than some idea of an immortal soul.' The word basically is equivalent to life.”

“This is very confusing,” said Nemo. “I thought the soul was what lived on after you died.”

“Philo said death releases the soul from the prisonhouse of the body,” said Dio. “I love this cheese dip.”

“To tell you the truth, I find it very hard to believe in a life after death,” said Gertrude.

“I think that would be a terrifying way to have to live,” said Penny Kostle. “I would never be able to see my grandmother again.”

“Not at all,” said Gertrude. “You just drink in with appreciation all the good of life while you can.”

“Speaking of the good of life,” said Japhy, placing a new dish on the table. “Everybody grab a cracker. You must try this sardine p‰tŽ.”

John Armistead is the Daily Journal religion editor.

Click video to hear audio