Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Good death, bad death

Sunday afternoon I took in a presentation from Stanley Hauerwas, one of my favourite theologians (ask Rick), who spoke about medical ethics and the way we don't accept the fact of death.

He noted that when people are asked today how they want to die, they always say "suddenly, painlessly, in my sleep". In other words, they want to die without knowing they are dying. (I can plead guilty here. Once, when asked how I would like to die, I replied "vapourised in a surprise nuclear attack").

A thousand years ago, people wanted the opposite. A slow death was a good death, because it meant they could reconcile with their enemies before they faced judgement. They were more concerned about God than about death, and understood that death was not the end. Today, we are the opposite.

On that note, both grim and hopeful, I'll finish!

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