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Wednesday, December 23, 2020

The Great Intruder

 You can't really go a day as an adult in this world without hearing about death. Especially if you happen to be one of those people with a fairly large group of associates. Probably the greatest challenge to any sort of faith is death.

The secular types like to say that religion copes with death, but honestly, if that's what we've been trying to do all this time, we're not doing very well. If we were making this all up, why couldn't we just get rid of the death part? I absolutely won't give up my hope in eternal life, but eternal life doesn't eliminate death, as much as overcome it.

There is a film I like called, "The Last Samurai," where the protagonist essentially ends the film in the presence of the Japanese Emperor. The Emperor and this American have a friend in common, a man who was once the Emperor's teacher. This mentor died at the hands of another unscrupulous advisor to the Emperor.

"Tell me how he died," said the Emperor. The American, Captain Nathan Algren, replied, "No. I will tell you how he lived." There is something true in that. We want to live in such a way that death is seen as the intruder that it is. None of us should want to be the kind of people who make others glad when we are gone.

The truth about death as I see it is that it snatches away all that was good about us, taking us from the land of the living to someplace else. An especially generous soul will occupy the hearts and thoughts of many after they leave. It's not a shock that we are often generously sentimental about those who die, even if they don't deserve it. If we are honest, a lot of us are plainly hoping that someone will care, when we die. In any case, what's so special about a person, that we will bend over backwards, no, even injuring ourselves in the attempt to say anything good about someone who dies?

I suppose I could make the opposite point: that human beings are desperately wicked, and are the most skilled in finding new ways to harm one another. I suppose that is true as well. Isn't it interesting, how we are so fond of redemption stories that sometimes our redemption stories don't even make sense? It is true to a large extent that we are what we do, and yet, it is almost as though we have a congenital weakness for the rehabilitation of the "bad guy." I digress.

I suppose what I'm trying to say is that we all yearn for a peace and rest which we have no ability to create for ourselves. If it's real, we had better find it. There is little on Earth more certain than death.