Friday, November 23, 2012

On Death and Religion

I watched a video this morning on the life of a former business associate, Mark Nilo, who died of cancer at the age of 54.  I happened to just finish reading a book by a rather obscure French poet and novelist that I started about 2 weeks or so ago.  It was novel about death and was the first book by Jules Romains the founder of the French literary concept of Unanimism which has to do with collective conscienceness.  I remembered receiving an email with the link to this video and decided this was a good time to watch it, 2 days having elapsed since my father’s funeral.  It was a bit surreal.  I was struck by the randomness of death.

I saw the movie “Lincoln” last night with my wife Jan and my 2nd sister Donna.  There was a scene in the movie when Lincoln asks a question of a Lt. and an engineer.  There were operating the newly invented telegraph which played a big part the war.  He asked them if they thought we were born to meet our specific times…or words to that effect.  The Lt. said he wasn’t sure about himself but thought Lincoln was.  The engineer’s answer was  and  I paraphrase, “I’m an engineer, I believe the machine has been designed then operates on its own”, a very Deist observation, probably a reference to questions about Lincoln's own religiosity.

In the book by Romains entitled “The Death of a Nobody”, a young man who had attended the funeral of Jacques Godard (the “nobody”) a year earlier is thinking about the dead man whom he had never met and is contemplating death, life and eventually his own death and makes a poignant observation, “The beyond, better world, spirit, ghost – all those vulgar catchwords annoy me.  I must drive them away.  Otherwise, they will end by becoming an obsession, and I shall not be able to see anything anymore.”  This can be extrapolated to mean religious obsession or obsession with any idea or ideal can blind you.

This reminds me of a quote Jan and I heard recently….I can’t remember where.  It goes something like this, “Trust in people who seek the truth but not those who claim to have found it.”

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