Friday, March 11, 2016

Memento mori …

… ‘I want to stare death in the eye’… how great writers confronted their mortality | Books | The Guardian. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

To me, religion has never been consoling. I can’t get anything out of even the cadences of it. It feels like a foreign language. I sometimes find the reassurance I imagine other people getting from religion in passages of novels, in poems. The words transform, tame. The perspective shifts. The world alters a little, for a few moments, to make death bearable or almost bearable. Sometimes if I read bits of poems I feel stronger, shored up. Like Thomas: “That the closer I move / To death, one man through his sundered hulks, / The louder the sun blooms / And the tusked, ramshackling sea exults”; or Updike: “God save us from ever ending, though billions have. / The world is blanketed by foregone deaths, / small beads of ego, bright with appetite.”
I find it odd how people lacking religion seem to think that those who practice religion do so primarily for consolation. Religion certainly has its consolations, but it is about service and repentance, the mercy one endeavors to extend to others in the hope it will be granted to oneself.

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