I read things on a regular basis that trumpet the glories of the Stoic way of life. It got me thinking about three options when it comes to death:
SECULAR folks think death is something we should not think of. We need to get distracted with lesser things. Ernest Becker talked about these things in his Pulitzer winning book, The Denial of Death.
STOICS say we ought to face death bravely as it is so “natural.” Everyone has to experience it. Hunker down and face the music. Stop complaining you weak-willed soul!
SCRIPTURE tells us that death is our final enemy (I Cor. 15:26). Satan uses death to terrorize us (Heb. 2:14,15). Christ says he has abolished death (II Tim. 1:10). We long for eternity (Ecc. 3:11). Death is not the way it was suppose to be. We can face it (contra the SECULARIST), but we don’t face it in our own strength (contra the STOIC).
“May He support us all the day long, ‘til the shades lengthen and the evening comes, and the busy world is hushed, and the fever of life is over, and our work is done. Then in His mercy may He give us a safe lodging, and a holy rest, and peace at last.”
I was speaking about expressing proper emotions during my sermon last Sunday. This classic sketch was part of my introduction. I should add that this was one of those very rare times that I used a video clip to introduce my sermon. It was simply too apropos to leave out!
(I once was what you are and what I am you also will be). This memento mori underlines that the painting was intended to serve as a lesson to the viewers. At the simplest level the imagery must have suggested to the 15th-century faithful that, since they all would die, only their faith in the Trinity and Christ’s sacrifice would allow them to overcome their transitory existences.
According to American art historian Mary McCarthy:
The fresco, with its terrible logic, is like a proof in philosophy or mathematics, God the Father, with His unrelenting eyes, being the axiom from which everything else irrevocably flows.
Source: McCarthy, Mary (August 22, 1959). “A City of Stone”. The New Yorker. New York: 48.
There are two men who have taught me the most about the proper ways to integrate theology and literature: Ralph Wood and Roger Lundin. I have interviewed Ralph before, and Lord willing shall be going back to Baylor for another interview. I corresponded with Roger. I was planning on meeting with Roger during my lecture at Wheaton, but Roger unexpectedly died a few days prior to my talk. Jeremy Begbie of Duke collaborated with Roger. Here is part of Begbie’s tribute:
He cared about words – or better put, he cared for people through words: his students, colleagues and readers. That was why he labored so hard to find the right ones. That was why – with that memorable sidelong glance – he paused so often in conversation. That is why he spent hours and hours revising and re-editing his essays and books. In all the years I knew Roger I can honestly say I never remember him using words carelessly. He knew that careless words could hurt, maim and wound. In a culture deluged with half-thought out words, sloppy, hollowed-out language, he saw it as his calling to hone words full of care for others, full of the winsome generosity of God. And in the corridors of the academy, few things are needed more today. We academics revel in large words – to impress, to intimidate. He inspired us to use words with largesse. And that is a legacy beyond measure.
The rest is here: http://www.transpositions.co.uk/tribute-to-professor-roger-lundin/