Sunday, June 23, 2013

Suicide, Civilization, and Decisions

I saw this when I checked in at Google Plus this morning:
a public post
Brendan Walsh, on Google Plus (June 23, 2013)
"Would very Much Like To Read Comments On This Article"
That post linked to this article:
I skimmed the article, made a comment on Brendan Walsh's post, and realized that I had more to say: hardly a surprise, for anyone who knows me.

I recommend reading the entire article. I've put an excerpt here, along with my reaction.

Suicide at Nortre Dame

"Suicide at Notre Dame a Warning to the West"
Marjorie Jeffrey, Crisis Magazine (June 18, 2013)

"The mainstream American right has remained almost entirely silent about the recent suicide of the French historian, Dominique Venner....

"...Venner shot himself on the altar of the Cathedral of Notre Dame on May 21st, 2013. The image of this act ought to make us pause in awe. The American left immediately dismissed him as a discontented right-wing Catholic crank, simply angry at the recent legalization of gay marriage in his country. None of them examined his last article, or his suicide note, which tell a different story: and one which ought to be heeded by the rest of the West.

"The Christian mind has long rejected the possibility of suicide as a good, ever since Augustine'’s prominent discussion of it in the first book of The City of God....

"...Just maybe, there is something we can learn from the spirit of his deed, if not from the deed itself. It certainly seems clear that Venner did not mean for men of the West to follow his example and commit mass suicide; he meant for it to shake them out of their malaise. It was a cri-du-cœur against the modern age.

"Dominique Venner was, from my understanding, neither Catholic nor formally pagan: his spiritual life was found in a kind of reverence for the heritage of Europe; that heritage includes both pagan and Christian religion, and so he admired both. His suicide in the cathedral was a final act of respect, as well as a powerful setting for the message he intended to convey. He saw the cathedrals of Europe as artistic manifestations of the genius of his people. In his suicide note, 'Reasons for a Voluntary Death,' he explained...."
There's a lot going on, just in those paragraphs. Here's my hastily-written comment in Brendan Walsh's post:

Living in a Speed Bump

"I think this may be a key excerpt:

" '...Dominique Venner was, from my understanding, neither Catholic nor formally pagan: his spiritual life was found in a kind of reverence for the heritage of Europe; that heritage includes both pagan and Christian religion....'

"If that is true, his suicide does not surprise me at all. My native culture is that of the Upper Midwest in North America, part of Western civilization.

"I see much that is worthwhile in my native culture, but recognize that the culture's dominant element has long since stopped making sense. If a person whose allegiance was solely to Western civilization became aware of its intellectual and ethical bankruptcy, that would probably be a terribly unsettling experience. Despair is a possible result.

"On my part, I am also a Christian, part of something that began before the current iteration of Western civilization began, and which I expect will be around long after the Babylonian, Roman, and British Empires are viewed as roughly contemporary.

"From my point of view, we are experiencing a sort of 'speed bump,' a crisis which must be addressed - and which will pass."
Brian H. Gill (June 23, 2013)
As I said earlier this week, I'm not part of "the American right," mainstream or otherwise. I'm not "left," either. I'm Catholic. (June 18, 2013)

Although I don't fit into my native culture's two major pigeonholes for social viewpoints, I have well-defined standards and values: those taught by the Catholic Church.

The Church says that some things are wrong, including:
  • Despair
    • And we shouldn't do it
    (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2091)
  • Suicide is wrong
    • But we must not lose hope for the salvation of folks who kill themselves
    (Catechism, 2280-2283)
  • Homosexual behavior
    • And we must treat folks who exhibit this behavior "with respect, compassion, and sensitivity"
    (Catechism, 2357-2359)
Finally, about that 'speed bump' we're experiencing.

The crisis we're in will most certainly pass. Change happens, whether for good or ill. The universe is in a "state of journeying," and I've been over that before. (January 18, 2012)

Decisions we make, how we act or fail to act, will make a difference in what sort of world we hand off to future generations. Doing nothing is not an option. We are expected to work for social justice, and that's another topic. (Catechism, 1928-1942)

Related posts:

2 comments:

Brigid said...

On, perhaps? "comment of Brendan Walsh's post,"

The Friendly Neighborhood Proofreader

Brian Gill said...

Brigid: "on" it is. Thanks!

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From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.