Treachery has entered the ears of Christians like Claudius’ poison entered old King Hamlet. And if you think I’m over-exaggerating, try suggesting there’s no rational reason to live. Friends will mock you and your own parents will pour out scorn.
The marriage of our sacred faith to that of the egalitarians has resulted in “men without chests” (as C.S. Lewis would say). The modern Christian (be he Catholic, Protestant, or otherwise deluded) is programmatic; conformed to the likeness of a man but with no real innards. His responses are automatic — his conversations, scripted.
Lewis has the right of it (as usual) and during his response to professor Haldane, observes the following:
[Haldane] thinks that if one were inventing a language for ‘sinless beings who loved their neighbors as themselves’ it would be appropriate to have no words for ‘my’, ‘I’, and ‘other personal pronouns and inflexions’. In other words he sees no difference between two opposite solutions of the problem of selfishness: between love (which is a relation between persons) and the abolition of person. Nothing but a Thou can be loved and a Thou can exist only for an I. A society in which no one was conscious of himself as a person over against other persons, where none could say ‘I love you’, would, indeed, be free from selfishness, but not through love. It would be ‘unselfish’ as a bucket of water is unselfish. ~ “On Stories.”
Modern society’s quest for equality has created men with personalities like buckets of water. They infuriate those of us with fortitude and push us to question existence. Some of us simply cannot accept being a bucket of water! Indeed, it’s hard for real men to live among the chest-less and depression easily sets in. I learned this firsthand as I met my own cloud of despair. I wrestled with existential jitters (though I’ll not discuss the details.)
So I can honestly say that I appreciated Andy Nowicki’s book “Considering Suicide” which has none of the programmatic responses of pop-Christendom but confronts the suicidal man frankly, even as a companion in suffering. So frankly, in fact, that it comes across as vulgar — a vulgarity certain to offend the pious and infuriate limp-wristed counselors.
That Nowicki has considered suicide is clear and this gives his book an advantage often lacking in the genre. You know you’ve finally found someone capable of commiseration. An able guide through the storm of depression.
Though, I was disappointed at Nowicki’s failure to answer the big question in life — that line of thought eating at suicidal man:
“To be, or not to be?”
Is it nobler for us to endure (or escape through suicide) the slings and arrows of this God-forsaken social order, or to stand up to it? To fight! To take up arms against the sea of intellectual bacteria seeping through the veins of academia and in so-doing, end their onslaught?
Which Andy Nowicki? Which??????
With Solomon’s words in the back of the Christian’s mind: “all is meaningless, meaningless, meaningless” how can the question even matter? It’s worse for the pagan who has rejected all transcendent claims. All is meaningless for him as well, but it’s a meaninglessness without even the hint of purpose offered the Christian.
There are better books to show the incoherency of utilitarian ethical philosophies. Others men ably point out the failure of nihilism. Nowicki’s discussion of these things is valuable, not because of his clever criticism, but because of how he applies their failure (as philosophic systems) to the Question:
To be or not to be?
He suggests that if we are “to be”, then we must “be” in a Christian world, else we’re doomed to the twin evils of totalitarianism and anarchy (the only possible ends of worldviews that deny transcendent authority.) In the same way, our lives, if they are to have meaning at all (or if we are to “be” at all) must “be” Christian else succumb to the same twin evils.
That is the conclusion of Andy Nowicki’s consideration of suicide though, unless my review paints the conclusion too abrupt or uninteresting, it must be pointed out that much of value is said along the way.
For instance, the man considering suicide often daydreams about the way life will continue when he’s gone. “What will my parents think?” “How will my boss or girlfriend react?” But, Nowicki warns us that people are following scripts that are not their own. No suicide can squeeze out the sort of eternal agony desired. No death can overpower the pull of life’s script. The authorities who council those left behind to grieve, are the same who will advise them when to stop. So then, the thinking man who is really considering suicide, knows better than to off-himself for reasons of revenge. No one death can over-power the script.
But, can a life? This is where Nowicki’s book leaves off and we are left to consider our own struggles in light of the script.
Christian theologian Cornelius Van Til reminds us that the doctrine of the Incomprehensibility of God extends also to the incomprehensibility of all objects of human knowledge. We, as finite beings, will never intimately know anything, including ourselves. We are not God and we do not have His omniscient insight into the created facts. We cannot know all that our purpose is.
But can we know any small part of it?
I’ve not found any rational reason to live. But, along with Hamlet, I’ve found (in the religion that Nowicki’s book guides us to) an abundance of … “whys.” … in a sea of … “Why?” Or, more specifically to Hamlet, in the “whats?”
What dreams may come? What horrible convictions would find our hearts and rend our emotions from the ice therein…(the depressed man is apathetic in many ways and is unmoved by normal ebb and flow in life, save for the extravagant and most egregious impulses!)
Let all be meaningless to the philosopher, we have human hearts! To Hell with the Haldane and its egalitarian devils! When one climbs from the ocean of depression (with the help of Nowicki’s insights) and breathes life’s air once more: with a yell, he must cry with Hamlet:
“Oh, from this time forth my thoughts be bloody, or be nothing worth!”
And, let the enemies of our lot be kept awake at night by echos of the phrase: “To be.”