While wandering around the Illinois Museum in Springfield yesterday with my family I kept thinking to myself, “I wonder if my children will grow up to be geologists or pollen scientists.”
Then it hit me.
I could encourage them to go this route…and for the rest of their lives they’d pour over geology books…
Sift through the sediment found at the bottom of a lake…
And write articles for the New Scientist.
And that’s it.
Not that a career in geology or pollen science wouldn’t be meaningful or significant. It’d just be provisional. Short-sighted. One-dimensional.
In the end, I would have missed it if I said, “Look how vast and beautiful and strange the world is. You can spend the rest of your life exploring and learning about it.” And stopped there.
I might as well have said, “Open your mind. Drink deep. Welcome to sorrow.”
Suicide as the Mechanism to Remove Shame and Sorrow
In early 2007, a Japanese cabinet minister committed suicide just hours before a bribery probe. Mental health experts were shocked. Not by the suicide. But by the governor of Tokyo who praised the suicide.
In 2008, nearly 100 people in Japan committed suicide everyday. And it’s suicide hot line handles 700,000 calls a year.
See, in Japan, suicide is an acceptable way to avoid shame.
This view has its roots in Japan’s ancient Samurai history and Buddhist religion. To avoid shame, Samurais would kill themselves. And while Buddhism doesn’t promote suicide neither does it prohibit it.
Therefore, suicide is the mechanism to erase shame and remove sorrow.
Yet, this is a repulsive practice when it hits close to home. And I could not imagine any father being but dumbfounded if his son committed suicide.
A Strange Subject on Easter
It may seem odd to end to a week of posts on the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ talking about suicide. But there is much involved.
For example, if Dan Barker and the anti-supernaturalist co. are right and the dead CAN’T be raised from the dead, then… Christ is still in his tomb, the Gospel is not true, our faith is groundless, we misrepresent God, our work is senseless, we are still in our sins, death is it, life is futile and we are pathetic.
But if they are wrong and the dead CAN be raised from the dead, then Christ has risen, the Gospel is true, our faith is hopeful, we represent God truthfully, our work is significant, our sins are forgiven, death doesn’t have the last word, life is ultimately meaningful and we are envied.
Jesus’ Resurrection as the Mechanism to Remove Shame and Sorrow
Frankly, no godless intellectual giant offers any life system that I could feel good offering to my children. No secular poet sings a song I wouldn’t mourn if written by one of my children. No political leader articulates a plan I could embrace as true hope for my son or daughter.
In essence, no man who’s ever walked on this earth is worth trusting. Except one–Jesus the God-man who redeems us from suicide, sorrow and shame.
Late in his life Van Gogh once said he hoped that his paintings could be a lifeboat for someone cast away in the sea of uncertainty. Noble, but worthless coming from someone who took his own life.
To me, the defense and the spread of the resurrection of Christ is an issue to die for. Not only because it exalts Jesus, but because it has the power to invest ultimate meaning into the lives of people, especially those whom I love, like my children.
So while I’ll encourage my children to pursue careers they enjoy–whether as a scientist or poet–I can’t neglect the very spiritual and existential task of telling them about the one who lived, died and rose from the dead to rescue them from the shock and shame of sin.