The satirist P. J. O’Rourke, usually a wild man, learned that he has cancer. He has written a remarkable column in the L. A. Times, reflecting in a humorous yet thoughtful way on death, morphing into a confession of faith in Christ. Read it all, while realizing he is a satirist and no theologian. Here is a sample:
I looked death in the face. All right, I didn’t. I glimpsed him in a crowd. I’ve been diagnosed with cancer, of a very treatable kind. I’m told I have a 95% chance of survival. Come to think of it — as a drinking, smoking, saturated-fat hound — my chance of survival has been improved by cancer.
I still cursed God, as we all do when we get bad news and pain. Not even the most faith-impaired among us shouts: “Damn quantum mechanics!” “Damn organic chemistry!” “Damn chaos and coincidence!”
I believe in God. God created the world. Obviously pain had to be included in God’s plan. Otherwise we’d never learn that our actions have consequences. Our cave-person ancestors, finding fire warm, would conclude that curling up to sleep in the middle of the flames would be even warmer. Cave bears would dine on roast ancestor, and we’d never get any bad news and pain because we wouldn’t be here. . . .
No doubt death is one of those mysterious ways in which God famously works. Except, on consideration, death isn’t mysterious. Do we really want everyone to be around forever? I’m thinking about my own family, specifically a certain stepfather I had as a kid. Sayonara, you s.o.b.
Napoleon was doubtless a great man in his time — at least the French think so. But do we want even Napoleon extant in perpetuity? Do we want him always escaping from island exiles, raising fanatically loyal troops of soldiers, invading Russia and burning Moscow? . . .
Death is so important that God visited death upon his own son, thereby helping us learn right from wrong well enough that we may escape death forever and live eternally in God’s grace. (Although this option is not usually open to reporters.)
HT: First Things