Death and Materialism In several


Death and Materialism

In several places in St. Blogs, notably Disputations and Kairos, I have seen the argument that death is not the greatest evil, that there are indeed worse things in life. And I generally concur. But the argument is made with such force in defense of the indefensible (the taking of innocent life in the course of war) that I feel it must be countered.

Death is not the worst thing in the world. But I am glad for the creeping materialism that suggests perhaps it is. Death is a great natural evil that marks our fall. Before death, we were in constant communication with God throughout life; by death, we know that that door was (more or less) closed. I believe that some Saints may come close to attaining that state while living, but most ordinary folk only have momentary glimpses of it.

Believing that death is the worst thing that can happen puts the breaks on attitudes such as "Kill them all and let God sort them out." If death is not the worst thing, what then would be wrong with taking everyone out?

Further, my death is not the worst thing in the world. But as I've said elsewhere, for anyone who has lost someone near and dear, they know at a level beyond the intellect that it is indeed one of the worst things that will happen in the course of their lives. I remember my poor grandmother who after the death of a son a year earlier, stood over my mother's coffin and cried out loud, "It isn't supposed to be this way. Parents are not supposed to bury their children." This is a woman steeped in the Bible and certainly one of God's friends, and yet, at that moment, death did not seem to have such a light hand.

Jesus himself wept for Lazarus and sweated blood over his own impending death. He didn't advise us all to see to it that life ended as soon as possible. He did not tell us to advise widows to commit suttee and to offer up orphans. He provided additional wine at Cana and obviously saw life as a great good and death as something not to be feared, but not to be embraced.

Death is not the worst possible thing. On that I can agree. But I see little harm in the vast majority of humanity keeping in mind how much it hurts to be left behind, and how it can be the worst possible thing for some time in one's life. Perhaps be so remembering we will be less prone to enter easily into war, less prone to allow people in lands far from our own to starve, less prone to support abortion and other heinous practices. Perhaps if we really did believe that the death of an innocent life were truly the worst possible evil we could ameliorate some of the other tremendous evils that stalk the world today. If we could agree that life is precious, good, and to be preserved with all due diligence (but not necessarily with extraordinary means) we might cultivate a caring that is deeper than we presently have.

I can say that the attitude that death is not the worst thing does support a great many things that most of us would otherwise not countenance. I also point out that it is an argument from intellect, our emotions and our very flesh tells us otherwise. But phrases like this, " Death is not bad; it simply is" (Kairos Guy), I find terrifying in the hands of tyrants. It echoes too many callous words throughout the ages. It reminds me of the quote (was it Count Mirabeau?) in the French Revolution, "To make omelets one must crack a few eggs."

Kairos Guy is right, but the phrase in the wrong hands leads to depredation and horror beyond imaging. I'm sure that Adolf Hitler did not think that other people's deaths were particularly bad, the just were. Without a proper Christian background (which Kairos stipulates in his argument) the phrase is botulinum and worse. Better to let the materialists and even those of us who are profoundly Christian to continue in our attitude that death, while not the worst possible thing, is certainly a thing to be avoided, both for ourselves, for those we love, and for all people of good will throughout the Earth.

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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on April 10, 2003 8:17 AM.

Mr. da Fiesole, Revisited Yet was the previous entry in this blog.

Prayers of the Faithful It is the next entry in this blog.

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