Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Denial of Death

I will be preaching at Key Biscayne Presbyterian Church again on July 31, Sunday morning. I think I'll talk about death. I see a lot of death in the hospital. I think I need to read the Denial of Death by Ernest Becker, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction in 1974, a very influential book. Here's a few quotes to give an idea:

Of all things that move man, one of the principal ones is his terror of death. [page 11]

This is the terror: to have emerged from nothing, to have a name, consciousness of self, deep inner feelings, an excruciating inner yearning for life and self-expression—and with all this yet to die. It seems like a hoax. [page 87]

The idea of death, the fear of it, haunts the human animal like nothing else: it is a mainspring of human activity—activity designed largely to avoid the fatality of death, to overcome it by denying in some way that it is the final destiny for man. [page ix]

This is the most remarkable achievement of the Christian world picture: that it could take slaves, cripples, imbeciles, the simple and the mighty, and make them all secure heroes, simply by taking a step back from the world into another dimension of things, the dimension called heaven. Or we might better say that Christianity took creature consciousness—the thing man most wanted to deny—and made it the very condition for his cosmic heroism. [page 160]

I've got my work cut out for me. Looking forward to it.


Blogger nickg said...

If you could work in the Woody Allen quote from to top of my blog I'd be REALLY impressed!

But seriously...

I think death is one of the most important topics that Christianity needs to address today. The trick is: not to let our sermons about death, or Christ's victory over death on our behalf, become messages of Christianity as "pie in the sky in the by and by" to spiritual seekers. I think the result when that happens is that seekers either find Christianity to be irrelevant and ridiculous. Or, they mistake Christianity for some kind of "eternal fire insurance", rather than a worldview and lifestyle of continual dying to self along with everlasting new life in Christ.

I don't expect you will make that mistake. So, I'll be interested to hear what you come up with and what the response is.

2:25 PM, July 14, 2005  
Blogger W Sofield said...

Stay tuned, nickg. I think you'll be happy with the result. I'm still working, but making good progress on it.

6:08 AM, July 15, 2005  

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