David Brooks, an editorial writer for the New York Times, can be spiritually stimulating at times. In a recent speech he made refers to a book entitled “Lonely Man of Faith.” The author, Joseph Soloveitchik, describes Adam One and Adam Two, correlating both to the creation story. Adam One is external, career-oriented, and ambitious. Adam Two is the internal Adam. “Adam two wants to embody certain moral qualities to have a serene, inner character, a quiet but solid sense of right and wrong, not only to do good but to be good, to sacrifice to others, to be obedient to a transcendent truth, to have an inner soul that honors God, creation and our possibilities.” I would categorize this as the cry of our shy soul saying, “pay attention to what is most important.”
Brooks points out that our secular world nurtures Adam One, while leaving Adam Two inarticulate. The competitive and assertive lifestyle of many men hinders the ability to hear the “quieter sounds that emanate from our depths.” It is difficult for men to develop the humility to pay attention to the river of spiritual longing within. When men become aware of these inner murmurings they are often at a lose as to know how to respond. They don’t have the categories and vocabulary to deal with the gap. Men need to learn to articulate the language of the soul.
Listen to how Brooks describes the inner life. “You live with unconscious boredom, not really loving, not really attached to a moral purpose that gives life meaning. You settle into a sort of self-satisfying moral mediocrity. You grade yourself on a forgiving curve. You follow your desires wherever they take you. You approve of yourself as long as people seem to like you. And you end up slowly turning the core piece of yourself into something less desirable than what you wanted. And you notice this humiliating gap between your actual self and your desired self.”
Men, I want to ask if you feel that humiliating gap in your life? The gap between the driven, achieving, success oriented self and the cry of your inner man, wanting your attention so that you might nurture and care for your soul. It is all too easy for us to go through our days on “auto-pilot,” living on the surface of life and never paying attention to our depths. While we each need to be faithful and disciplined to live as Adam One, we must not neglect the cry of Adam Two. The Psalmist understand this as he prayed, “Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord. O Lord, hear my voice. Let your ear be attentive to my cry for mercy.” (Ps. 130:1)
This comes again as a “soul alert.” Think of Adam One and Adam Two as two completing tendencies in your walk with Christ. As a man rescued from your old ways, you are called to become more like Jesus in your daily affairs. The alert is to not neglect Adam Two as you give attention to the demands of Adam One. My advice: learn to schedule times of quiet – listen to your soul, and learn to articulate what you are hearing. Remember the sobering words of Jesus. “What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matt. 16:26)