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Episode 26 – Totally Bogus

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Episode 26 – Totally Bogus

This week we’re all a bit run down due to final papers and finals. So we discuss the rousing topic of Death! We bring up touchstones of modern pop culture like The Neverending Story, and Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey. Come and join us to talk about that fearsome foe death, won’t you?

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One thought on “Episode 26 – Totally Bogus

  1. While I suspect there’s never a single view of death in any culture, I think there’s a real shift in the prevalent death-view, some time in the 20th century, that your discussion (and even Billy’s book) doesn’t touch. The Christian view, narrative, and history all seem to agree to speak to a particular view, or a common thread among all (non-Christian) views, namely that death is scary. And this was, so far as I understand, universal up until recently. Even the Stoics (I’m thinking of Epictetus and Aurelias), while encouraging a manly disregard of the howling void, emphasize this as the highest glory of man, as the pinnacle of philosophical striving: as hard. (I may be projecting a bit of Sartre onto Aurelias, here, but even if so, the fact that the projection is so easy itself makes the point!)

    But lately, there’s another view of the void: it’s boring. Woody Allen says “I’m not afraid of death. I just don’t want to be there when it happens.” That is, the void of unbeing is not frightening. Only the unpleasant inconvenience of sickness and feebleness, of treatment and struggle and acquiescence are worth avoiding. Dying is so messy we avoid it, in fact don’t even talk about it. But death itself, once it has happened, is boring.

    In life (the living of it, as distinct from the claims and monuments and arts), we’ve learned to sequester our near-to-death persons into institutions of various sorts, packed away where the living can escape the inconveniences of dying, leaving us only to face the banalities of the thoroughly dead.

    In “Game of Thrones,” there is among “The Iron Men” a cult, the Cult of the Drowned God, who baptize their new members into not merely symbolic death, but actual: they hold them under water until they drown, then haul them up onto the beach and revive them. An obvious allusion to the symbolic death of Christian baptism, but what does this more-extreme baptism mean for them? Not much is given us, only this: several times, we are told that those who’ve been so-baptized are no longer afraid to wear armor during a sea battle. Where most men fear being sunk to the depths, the Iron Men have no such fear: they wear their armor and are therefore mighty, fearsome, and often victorious. It’s not that they are protected against drowning. It is, rather, that they’ve already been dead once, and learned dead-ness is nothing to fear.

    This banality of death is a profound defense against the appeal of the Gospel. You can talk all you like about how your God wants to save me from death; I may even believe you; but if death is only boring, I really don’t care!

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