Thursday, October 26, 2006

Death, Despair and Hope

One of my favorite morbid poems is Poe's The Raven. It is well known to probably a large number of Americans, though I fear a cannot say a majority of them. It is a discourse by a man grieving for lost love and in the end, knowing that his beloved was gone forever, finding only despair in death, both symbolized by the Raven.

And the Raven, never flitting,
still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas
just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming
of a demon's that is dreaming,
And the lamplight o'er him streaming
throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow
that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted- nevermore!

Poe spent last two years of his life grieving over his lost love, his deceased wife Virginia (and though The Raven was written two years before she actually died, he knew she was dying and it was only a matter of time and he would be seperated from her forever.) There is very little doubt that his wife's impending death inspired the masterpiece. Two years after her death Poe was found wandering aimlessly and gibbering, and died shortly thereafter.

Death is one of two things: oblivion or another life. For those who believe in oblivion, death is the destroyer of all dreams, all hopes, and all happiness. Those who believe it leads to another life see death as a transition.

Those who see death as the end cannot possibly truly hope. All will die and a child born today has only begun the pathway to the grave. That is what life is. In CS Lewis's book Perelandra a dying man said life with like "a rind" with oblivion on each side and only the illusion of beauty and meaning in between.

Without eternal life, life becomes not a tragedy, but a painful farce. Look at the animal kingdom. A female mouse gives birth to several litters a year and the vast majority of her babies will die in agony before it is more than a few weeks old. Every animal dies and the vast majority of them will succumb to starvation, disease, or predation (none of which are pleasant endings) and in the wild it is a rare creature indeed that dies of old age in its sleep. Life in the material world for most creatures is suffering while trying to stave off death for as long as possible. And if the world is only material, then the saddest fact of all is that all of this suffering is for nothing. All their labors, suffering, and occasional triumphs will not stave off death for themselves, eventual extinction of their species, and ultimately the death of the planet they live on.

For inevitably
Destroying what he chanced to create in play
the idiot Chaos blew earth's dust away (The Fungi From Yuggoth by HP Lovecraft)

Sometimes it seems to me, that if there is no God, then the kindest thing we could do, not only to our fellow man, but to all living things is to nuke the planet and end all life, for only with the end of all life will suffering and pain end.

That, of course, is not acceptable.

The existance of God changes everything. Though life in the material world remains suffering, especially for animals, but also for most humans as well, the fact that life has a purpose and is moving toward a specific end changes it from tragic to a growing process. That death is not the end makes it less painful.

The Resurrection of the Son of God has revealed Eternal Life to us. That is our Hope.

In all the world around me
I see His loving care
and though my heart grow weary
I never shall despair
I know that He is leading us
through the stormy blast
and the day of His appearing
will come at last.

For He must reign until He has put all enemys under His feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death (I Corinthians 15: 25, 26)

And death shall be no more. (Revelation 21: 4)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can appreciate this post. I write poetry and have had one published. Mostly love poems for Ebyjo...

I know, I know; hard to believe coming from me.

That's why I can't leave without saying: If we could get by with 'nuking' the Middle East without harm to us would it then be acceptable? That's what they want to do to us and impose their worthless religion on everyone...

It would END their miserabe suffering and worthless lives. Most importantly we wouldn't have to fight and get killed over there anymore. They believe there is a God and their views are 180 degrees apart from yours.

Just wandering... Semper Fi Shop.

2:01 AM  
Blogger shoprat said...

given a choice, I prefer to live and let live, or as the Apostle Paul put it, "So far as it is up to you live in peace with all men" (Romans 12: 18)

Yes we are being forced to kill. I would rather not, but they have chosen Jihad over peace. They, not I, have chosen war.

I would take no pleasure in a mass slaughter of anyone, even if it is necessary. In the end, we must kill as many as needed to get the point acrossed, and once they've surrendered, show them the meaning of true mercy, as we did with Japan and Germany.

8:44 PM  
Blogger ABFreedom said...

I can see why Poe chose the Raven as a symbol. Those things are big, ugly, and sound horrible. We see, and hear, a lot of them, and they are very unnerving to people that aren't used to them, and would seem to represent the dark side of life.

9:20 PM  
Blogger armed_and_christian said...

While I've been a fan of Poe since I was first introduced to his work back in the 5th grade, I've always enjoyed The Conqueror Worm much more than The Raven.

abfreedom: I'll take crows & ravens over pigeons and seagulls anyday.

10:24 PM  

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