Part Two of on “Dying with Dignity”
“Out, out, brief candle! Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more: it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” Macbeth (Act V, Scene V)
Shakespeare was a Christian, speaking from a Christian perspective — that’s why his influence on the English speaking peoples has been so powerful— and it’s the disappearance of the Christian perspective from the modern Western ideological landscape that accounts for our society’s point-lessness and hopelessness, reducing our society’s story to the level of “a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”
NOT ENOUGH HOPE
Last night I attended a viewing at a funeral home for a young man in his early twenties who had committed suicide. I guess I needed to see his life from this angle. He was different than I had expected. I thought perhaps that he would have been from an abused life. Or a deprived home. But it seems he came from standard 21st century suburbia. He had a full life, with all the perks and baubles.
The Hamlet situation did not fit this young man at all. He did not seem to be suffering the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. I don’t think Shakespeare could have dreamed of the kind of cocoon this young man grew up in. He certainly had everything in standard life to hope for. Standard life. Sounds like a life insurance company.
That’s why I have to take my analysis further. There is a dimension to hope that needs to be addressed. A life absolutely filled with diversions and excitements and toys can be totally devoid of hope. I know this sounds hard to believe for a person raised in Secular Humanism —that vacuum packaged lie which indoctrinates it’s victims into thinking that this is all there is. Because if this is all there is, it is NEVER enough. It will never be enough. It doesn’t matter how full of things this life is— opportunities, friends, vacations, cars, girlfriends, toys, gadgets— the whole point is that there is no afterlife. It’s the thought of an afterlife that gives people hope.
How so? Let me try to explain. It goes beyond that pie-in-the-sky-by-and-by phenomenon. It isn’t the promise of heaven and golden streets that gives people hope. It’s the whole idea that a Father —a supernatural entity— would go to all the trouble of creating a temporal world to prepare us for an eternal world, and not even tell us about it beforehand, but allow us to discover it in increments. Because when we are born into this life, this life is certainly sufficient for a while, full of fresh wonders every day. But slowly the edges of the Box begin to appear. Slowly we become aware of this creeping thing called death, which marks the boundary of our habitation. It’s then that we realize that there is no eternity for us. We are finite and limited and one day we will expire. That realization permeates what we once thought of as life. You see, there is a factor in this thing we call life that we rarely see clearly until we are absolutely confronted with it. It’s then that we see it’s been all around us for our entire lifetime. Hospitals, suffering, funeral homes, cemeteries. These things have always been there but we’ve never really seen them.
What makes us see them, finally? It’s different for everybody. The death of a loved one. A close call. Or a philosophy class where some intellectual expounds on the meaninglessness of life— how it is up to us to provide that meaning. That’s when we are confronted with the ultimate conundrum. If there is no overarching purpose to life, if there is no ultimate designer of this great vast macrocosm, then we really are like mayflies— we live for a few days at the whim of nature for no ultimate purpose and then we disappear.
I’m sorry, but that’s just not enough food for a hungry soul.
But insert the ultimate truth— that there is a Grand Designer who delights in creation to the degree that He continually invites more and more people to join Him on stage— and that the “stage” is not without a meaningful play (not as Shakespeare himself once said, “Out, out, brief candle! Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more: it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” Macbeth (Act V, Scene V)— and it is certainly not a tale told by an idiot.
Now there is the crux of the whole problem! If there is no grand designer, if there is no gifted author, no prolific writer, no prodigy, no wider canvas, no unlimited budget— then we can say life is a tale told by an idiot.
What do I mean? Imagine going to the next film produced by some great filmmaker— George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, Ridley Scott— and finding out he didn’t have a new great idea, a new thought, a new great plot, a blockbuster plan. That would be so disappointing. It would be tragic— because the very essence of creativity is that there’s always more where that came from.
And that’s what we’re trying to say has happened to the ideology of the Western World. The Christian ideology does not only span eternity but the potential and the resources are unlimited and the “producer” is none other than the Creator, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the “ancient of Days”, the “I AM”, the ultimate source of all purpose, all hope, all life.
With Him at the helm life will never be “a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing,” but will be as the Bible says in promises disbursed throughout the Scriptures, promises like these:
“ For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” Jeremiah 29:11
“The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” John10:10
“And [I] will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” 2 Corinthians 6:18
“But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name…” John 1:12
“But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9
“Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” Psalm 16:11
“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments; as the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the LORD commanded the blessing, even life for evermore.” Psalm 133
I cannot hope to undo a lifetime of indoctrination into secular humanism in one booklet. Please go further and check out our website to find the answers you need to restore the hope, joy, and expectation you were born with.
– JOHN IDEMS