Avoidance of Death: A Corporate Value

At the Bench, Deacon Greg blogged about the Fox News commentator teeing off on what strikes me as a laudable and eminently Catholic practice. Alan Colmes is a self-professed liberal, but I’d like to recall his membership card for cloddish behavior. Is that permitted? Mr Colmes:

Get a load of some of the crazy things he’s said and done, like  taking his two-hour-old baby when it died right after child birth home  and played with it so that his other children would know that the child  was real.

Some historical and cultural perspective… Before the West decided to smooth over the experience of death (hiding the returning coffins of honorable soldiers, turning funerals into glorified roasts of good deeds, and the obsession with looking young and keeping as far away from death as possible) people did sensible things, like waking the dead in their homes, inviting friends and loved ones to share difficult experiences, and finding strength in human companionship instead of the drugs of choice peddled on Fox and other corporate media outlets.

It’s more telling that Mr Colmes works for a corporation than it is he’s a liberal. It strikes me he’s drunk deeply of the Kool-Aid of our culture’s avoidance of death. His employer serves it up regularly.

Of course, this whole thing might be cooked up to allow the 24,349th journalist to poke his head above water in a very crowded political scene. I sure will be glad when Ron Paul stops robocalling me. I hope the dude gets a life, and if he finishes behind Mr Santorum, all the better.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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2 Responses to Avoidance of Death: A Corporate Value

  1. I was in that conversation – as you know. I got caught up in what I perceived as incendiary use of the term liberal, but you make excellent and more essential points here.

    The other day I watched an old episode of Frontline, Undertaking. It contained a line that flew into my head as I read your post…

    “I think we have in some ways become estranged about death and the dead. We’re among the first couple generations for whom the presence of the dead at their own funerals has become optional. And I see that as probably not good news for the culture at large. Up until a couple generations ago, humans dealt with death by dealing with their dead, so that the way we processed mortality was by processing from one place to the other. And both the dead and the living have some distance to go when someone we love dies.” – Thomas Lynch, Poet and Undertaker

  2. Jimmy Mac says:

    Without death, our lives would be banal, forcing us into nothing serious, deep, important, requiring commitment; we would instead be able to grant ourselves an interminable postponing of freedom and responsibility. Death gives an edge to our lives. Death is the seal that solidifies what we have become in life by out free concrete actions, good, bad, indifferent. What values have we lived by? What causes have we served? To whom and to what have we given ourselves? What we have done with our lives receives its perfection and finality in death. The mere prolongation of physical life gives it no meaning. Meaning rises out of those peak moments when we choose in freedom to live out of conscience in the face of great adversity, to be responsible even if it costs, even if no one else knows, to be compassionate and kind even to those who cannot reward us, to do justice to the powerful and the weak, to continue to live and to do good in a world of dishonesty, self-interest, and cynicism. For the values embodied in these acts, we are willing to die, if need be, because they are worth more than mere physical existence. That is why we honor the martyr of conscience. Our being is bound by time from birth to death, and death gives meaning to the in-between, to this interval page. It calls us to choose, while we still can, to become what we will be. It is death alone that makes human life serious, making living worthwhile.

    Peter Riga, letter to editor, Commonweal, 9/24/93.

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