Death as an element of writing

Today I read an essay by the late Richard John Neuhaus entitled “Born Toward Dying”. In this essay Neuhaus reflects on a medical emergency that nearly cost him his life. As he reflected on the reality of dying, he asks the question, “what does it tell us that modern philosophy has had relatively little to say about death?” It seems to me that in the Western world there is a greater distance from death both philosophically and proximately. Death appears to be something that is neither seen nor heard. People spend more time fighting against the inevitability of death than considering its mystery in relationship to life.

Death is of primary interest because one’s view of death reveals their view of life. For instance, to hold to a belief that denies this existence of God betrays, in my opinion, an existential and even fatalist world view. If there are no ends upon which to justify your life, then the means become the ends. By contrast, in a Christian view, the eternal significance of an individual’s actions can never be separated from any existential considerations. Even the smallest gesture can be eternally regarded.

Writing about death is writing about life. How the characters of my stories confront the mystery of death clarifies their view of life. And death is pervasive. It is something we all must face. As Neuhaus reminds us, the mortality holds firm at 100 percent.


About vanyieck

There is nothing about me that is more interesting than you. I am a man. I have a wife and family. I have a career. I have two dogs. I
This entry was posted in death, God, life, philosophy, theology, writing. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Death as an element of writing

  1. pochp says:

    True. Only those who are at peace with death can truly live.

  2. Hello Tim,

    Medical examiners are known to give us a “reason for death” after an autopsy. One of those which is seldom heard anymore would be the old-fashioned term, “natural causes.” Nowadays there are numerous terminologies used to express a person’s termination of life. Sometimes a great deal of effort revolves around determining why someone has died.

    It is my opinion that death itself is always a natural part of life. When we mortals question the timing, it is because we lack the divine wisdom of Him who created us, each with a divine purpose for living.

    Prayer is our vein through this gift of life given in vessels of flesh, that will carry our spirit to life everlasting lest we wrestle in vain with death.

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