As I’ve been travelling I have been re reading Spengler, On Kindle. On my phone — which is barely doable, I prefer a real book or a real Kindle. I’ve ended up buying books — but he talks about when a society loses hope personal pleasure becomes the only thing that protects one from a sense that we will die.
And this is infecting, of all things twitter.
Mr Nicklinson, 58, is seeking to make legal history by challenging the Government over the right to die. He has suffered from locked-in syndrome since a stroke on a business trip in Athens in 2005.
While his mind was unaffected, his condition has meant he has spent most of the past seven years alone in his room and unable to communicate with family and friends.
In a landmark case, he and his family are due to go to the High Court to argue that a doctor should lawfully be allowed to end his life.
Now, this is the cult of death. the article tells of him being bombarded by tweets from pro lifers. They are doing their duty. The duty of his doctor is to keep him well and comfortable, with consent… not to kill him. I am aware that there is considerable concern among many physicians that we are being asked to become societies executioners not healers.
Which has not been our role… from the judaic and hippocratic oath onwards. Spengler does argue that this is due to a lack of true faith. We cannot see a future for ourselves, or our familes, so we do not breed.
Which brings me back to Helsinki yesterday. If I go around Dunedin I will find students. Hundreds of them. In Helsinki — at 51, and wearing an old man’s raincoat (I forgot to bring one, and it was pouring down… which meant that I got soaked to the skin through the raincoat) I was the average age or a littel younger. I did see one group of teenagers. One. In four hours of walking around the old town.
Contrast all this with the reading for today.
15On the day the tabernacle was set up, the cloud covered the tabernacle, the tent of the covenant; and from evening until morning it was over the tabernacle, having the appearance of fire. 16It was always so: the cloud covered it by day and the appearance of fire by night. 17Whenever the cloud lifted from over the tent, then the Israelites would set out; and in the place where the cloud settled down, there the Israelites would camp. 18At the command of the LORD the Israelites would set out, and at the command of the LORD they would camp. As long as the cloud rested over the tabernacle, they would remain in camp. 19Even when the cloud continued over the tabernacle many days, the Israelites would keep the charge of the LORD, and would not set out. 20Sometimes the cloud would remain a few days over the tabernacle, and according to the command of the LORD they would remain in camp; then according to the command of the LORD they would set out. 21Sometimes the cloud would remain from evening until morning; and when the cloud lifted in the morning, they would set out, or if it continued for a day and a night, when the cloud lifted they would set out. 22Whether it was two days, or a month, or a longer time, that the cloud continued over the tabernacle, resting upon it, the Israelites would remain in camp and would not set out; but when it lifted they would set out. 23At the command of the LORD they would camp, and at the command of the LORD they would set out. They kept the charge of the LORD, at the command of the LORD by Moses.
29Moses said to Hobab son of Reuel the Midianite, Moses’ father-in-law, “We are setting out for the place of which the LORD said, ‘I will give it to you’; come with us, and we will treat you well; for the LORD has promised good to Israel.” 30But he said to him, “I will not go, but I will go back to my own land and to my kindred.” 31He said, “Do not leave us, for you know where we should camp in the wilderness, and you will serve as eyes for us. 32Moreover, if you go with us, whatever good the LORD does for us, the same we will do for you.”
33So they set out from the mount of the LORD three days’ journey with the ark of the covenant of the LORD going before them three days’ journey, to seek out a resting place for them, 34the cloud of the LORD being over them by day when they set out from the camp.
35Whenever the ark set out, Moses would say, “Arise, O LORD, let your enemies be scattered, and your foes flee before you.” 36And whenever it came to rest, he would say, “Return, O LORD of the ten thousand thousands of Israel.”
Now, in this situation the hand of God was visibly guiding the Isrealites. They were a congregation of God, guided by God, with a hope. The promised land was not yet, but they were sustained by the hand of God who gave them food in the desert and guided towards that promise.
In functional Christian congregations, this continues. But if Christianity loses it’s salt, and becomes paganism (or modernism, which is very much the same thing) in Christian dress, then society re enters despair. We cannot tolerate our own mortality without some form of eternal hope. Without that, death becomes rational, and pleasure is the opium of the people.
The tabernacle of life is better than this. Our job is to preserve it.