There is a great difference in excellency, usefulness, and comfort between people of clear, digested knowledge, and confused, undigested apprehensions. -Richard Baxter

Not exactly light blogging: discussing death

sorry (again) for not leaving time for discussion Sunday.  Here’s what I would’ve asked you to comment on.  I know your day doesn’t allow for extended reflection and comment (“but, boss, my contemplative musings on life and death can only help my effectiveness in the workplace!“), but any semi-thoughtful insight will do. Two questions:

1.    Who’s right?:

o         Jonathan Edwards, age 17: 9. Resolved, to think much on all occasions of my own dying, and of the common circumstances which attend death

o         or Dr. Gardner Taylor, age 70-something: [having lost his wife in a freak car accident, “As we grow older, this life shows its true qualities of impermanence and unreliability. The young ought not feel that way; they ought to have the illusion of permanence. I don’t think you could live very well without that illusion.  As one gets older, God has ordained it so that as one must leave the world, it becomes less attractive.”

2.    How do we live between being morbidly occupied with death and totally aloof to it?


  John S Oliver wrote @

The sudden death of my grandmother when I was 19 years old gave me a huge wake up call. I recognized that I too will die and it could occur suddenly. That was a major factor that led me to ask what is there in life besides money and things. A complex spiritual quest began and still continues.

  John S Oliver wrote @

Let us consider how people lived a century ago and in many areas of the world today. It was common for extended families to live under the same roof. Thus babies to the elderly were present together. A young adult would witness the events of birth and death every few years. Plus the complex journey from the cradle to the grave would be demonstrated daily.

We live in a highly segmented society that is unlike most of way people have lived for thousands of years. It is unlike how billions live outside of modern cities today.

I suggest that such a setting would keep a person’s mortality an ever-present reminder in that kind of context.

  John S Oliver wrote @

My brother has volunteered in a hospice before and told me how it changed him. He said that the greatest service one can give a person that is facing death is just to be fully present. He told me about the high value of a simple touch in that setting. After helping them his perceptions of the stuff he was chasing took on a very different perspective.

He told me that most hospices have a shortage of volunteers. It has been my plan to volunteer there when that season of my life is ripe for me.

I challenge all young adults to prayerfully consider blending volunteering into their life and maybe at a hospice.

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