Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Threescore and Ten

"The days of our years are threescore years and ten;
and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years,
yet is their strength labour and sorrow;
for it is soon cut off, and we fly away."

~ Psalm 90:10 (KJV) ~
The Three Ages of Woman, 1905
by Austrian Painter Gustav Klimt, 1862 - 1918
"I am doing all I can now to be aware of my anxieties and bad habits. I am promising myself to continue to read and draw and write and keep my brain active. I am promising myself to always be with those younger than me (students, nieces, nephews)--to surround myself with a variety of age groups--to keep up with technology--to keep my heart and brain ready for risks and newness and change. . . . I do not want to age into some strange caricature of all my worst traits."

~ Jan Donley, writer, artist, teacher, friend

Why can't dying be more like being born -- a kind of gradual, comprehensible winding down over 9 months -- instead of never knowing how ugly it's all going to get and how long it's going to take and how much of a burden you'll have to be on your loved ones before you're allowed to go in peace? An intelligent designer would have made dying joyful in some way, the way birth is joyful; not make - believe joyful (as in we'll gain our reward in heaven and meet again on the other shore and understand it better by and by) but somehow biochemically naturally innately joyful. But it's not; it's just bad news for everybody.

If there's anything that totally shatters my faith, it's human aging, which is surely much more distressing than dying. What kind of a mean-hearted higher power could possibly dream up such a cruel and un-intelligent design? And by aging, I don't mean a bald spot or a double chin or the loss of youthful looks -- I mean losing your mind, losing your self, becoming less and less of who you ever were. What could be worse than that? It's bad enough to have your kids thinking you're just a little crazy, merely for the fact of being over thirty, let alone waiting for the real thing as the decades pass, threescore, fourscore.

Sometimes I feel like Biff Brannon at the end of
The Heart is a Lonely Hunter:
"The left eye delved narrowly into the past while the right gazed wide and affrighted into a future of blackness, error, and ruin. And he was suspended between radiance and darkness. Between bitter irony and faith. Sharply he turned away."

American novelist Carson McCullers, 1917 - 1967

Or like Bix Constantine and Julie Katz from
Only Begotten Daughter:
"You're an agnostic . . . ?"

"Used to be . . Then one day . . . I picked up my cousin's new baby and realized how at any moment this pathetic, innocent creature might die in a car crash or get leukemia, and in that moment of revelation, my Road to Damascus, I went the whole way to atheism."
[110]

*****************

" . . . Randy's illness was part of God's loving plan for us . . . the darkest tragedy becomes a gift, doesn't it . . . ?"

"It's wonderful you've conquered your grief . . . but I can't help suggesting that a God who communicates with us through leukemia is at best deranged.

"In my view, it's time we stopped having lower standards for God than we do for the postal service. Suppose the doctor had cured your son. Then that would have proved [God's] infinite goodness too, wouldn't it? Follow my reasoning? Heads, God wins. Tails, God wins."
[116]

American novelist James Morrow, b 1947

No comments:

Post a Comment