#1, Nov 18, 2011 8:55pm
Interesting post, Jules. I've had such a consideration come to mind from time to time. That is, on death and the meaning of human life and action, It seems that even the mundane or every-day drudgery can take on meaning in the light of eternity, while, if death were to be the end of it all, so much of human life would seem to be marked by empty futility.
But, in the face of a serious doubt and unsurety about an afterlife, what are a person's options? A stoicism or hedonism? Despair, though this can't last for long. I would think a subtly defiant stoicism in pursuit of natural virtue or a certaiin drive for human greatness and excellence would be the noblest options in the face of a belief in no eternal existence.
Thoughts? (apologies if this comment is halting, I'm typing with one hand with a sleeping toddler in my other arm.)
#2, Nov 19, 2011 11:27am
Both points are a great mystery to me. Natural virtue and a drive for human excellence is often accompanied by a disbelief in eternal existence just as great gifts frequently come hand-in-hand with defects. Can we apply the same broadness and generosity that Henri de Lubac uses in describing the "seeming egoists" to those virtuous persons without professed faith in the eternal?
In listening to Dr. Peter Damgaard-Hansen's CD "The Power of Reconcilation" I was struck by his description of Catholicism as a faith simple enough for children but deep enough for scholars. He describes how it is necessary for us to be honest about how weak our faith is, how little we, who are Christian, seek God, who is ever ready to be found. We find him in our weakness, in our confessions of failure, the very things we try to hide from him, just as we find ourselves in union with others when we're vulnerable to them. We seek God when we open our hearts to him, but for many reasons (he lists pride, as one) we avoid an honest, passionate encounter with him and wonder why there is no reply on his end.
I'm wondering how this applies to those who lack a clear faith in God.
Jules van Schaijik
#3, Nov 20, 2011 12:17pm
Matt Chominski, Nov. 18 at 8:55pm
But, in the face of a serious doubt and unsurety about an afterlife, what are a person's options? A stoicism or hedonism? Despair, though this can't last for long. I would think a subtly defiant stoicism in pursuit of natural virtue or a certain drive for human greatness and excellence would be the noblest options in the face of a belief in no eternal existence.
I agree Matt. I admit to having difficulties entering into the mindset of someone who is serious about life and yet convinced there is an absolute end to it. (I was a non-believer myself once, but an unthinking one. The problem of death never ocurred to me.) But there are plenty of historical examples. I suppose such people are often sustained in their lives and commitments by a sense that they will live on in their works or in their deeds, and in the memory of those they leave behind.
There are also those who think we should just "live it up" while we can. But that seems no more than despair with a smile.