Hi friends and welcome to the Arise, Beloved blog. We have an amazing team of writers behind this blog and our desire is to speak truth into the lies that cripple us and shine light into the darkness that isolates us because we believe that now, more than ever, the Church desperately needs women to be restored so that the world can be set ablaze. Our hope is that you find comfort, solace, and peace in knowing that you are not alone, you are not too far gone and there is ALWAYS hope to be found.
|| Part Two ||
On January 1st of this year I was driving on the Baltimore beltway and the electronic signs over the highway (the ones that pre-covid were only used for traffic updates and emergency messages) were all sharing a brand-new message in bright orange letters:
“New Year. Same Mission. Zero Deaths.”
I did a double take when I read it. By the time I drove past another identical sign a few miles down, I didn’t know if I should laugh or cry. Laugh at the outright ridiculousness of the statement or cry because of the deceptive subtle rhetoric that sounds so good and yet is so far removed from truth.
If you think I was overreacting to a sign or misunderstanding the goal, don’t leave just yet. Let me explain a bit more to you.
For the last 100ish years Western civilization has become increasingly more and more divorced from the reality of death. I would argue that since the end of WWII this divorce has deepened tremendously. Hear me out, yes, I know that death is still something that we all brush up against – at some point. And some experience much heavier losses and at much younger ages. But on a whole, our society is not familiar with death and we have come to have a false sense of security because we can in many ways control death.
Think about life in the past, almost everyone experienced the loss of a child. Diseases that wiped out whole families at a time were a common occurrence. Death, while always tragic and heartbreaking, was also accepted as a natural part of life. More accurately, the risk of death was accepted as a natural part of life. Man had no way to stop or control death and so man was not controlled by a fear of death. Man went about his life, embracing what came, working hard, hoping for the best, and if a man of faith, praying and entrusting his life to God.
However, this all began to change in the 1500s when someone named Francis Bacon came onto the scene. Francis Bacon was an English philosopher and he is sometimes called the father of empiricism and modernity. Prior to Bacon the goal of science was to learn about the truth established by God in the natural world. Even if you took God out of the picture, there was an understanding that nature had set laws and both scientific and philosophic discoveries were about learning and understanding what the rules were so that man could live and flourish within them.
“The classical and biblical view of man was that man was in an organic relationship with the natural (or created) world. While man was special insofar of being the greatest animal of nature (at the top of the natural hierarchy), the major theme of classical and biblical anthropology was that man was not separated from, or separate from, nature. There are distinctions, as Aristotle explains, between man and the rest of nature, but man is equally part of this web of nature which he exists in.
Another important conception of man and nature in the ancient view was the “dominion” or stewardship ethos found in Genesis. Man ought to take care of the garden he is in and the flourishing garden will also lead to the flourishing of all: creation and creature alike. Thus, the ancient view does not regard nature as something hostile but as something that man has power over but with that power comes responsibility. Namely the responsibility of stewardship.” 1
However, Bacon came along and flipped it and instead argued that the goal of science and philosophy should be to gain knowledge of the natural world in order to manipulate and control it. Thus, making man like God.
“For Bacon, man is superior to nature. But man is also alienated from nature. Nature is harsh and unforgiving and something that needs to be conquered. Rather than seeing man as part of the web of nature, Bacon sees man as existing in a natural empire. His domain is nature itself which he has the power to instrumentally transform. It is a nature that needs man to tame it, conquer it, and subdue it. The subjugation of nature occurs through industry and man’s pursuit of knowledge.” 1
The danger in Bacon’s philosophy is that it entirely removes the necessity of God. Instead, it elevates man to a god-like status over the created world where science and knowledge are worshiped instead of the God of the heavens and earth. With all of the scientific and technological advancements of the last century and all knowledge at our fingertips, we have the ability to control everything in the natural world, and man is, apparently, invincible. Or so we think.
But when something unexpected happens and this invincible man is faced with the hard reality of his own mortality, what happens?
Paralyzing fear and denial which turns into relentless grasping for more control all while pointing fingers, desperately seeking for something or someone to blame.
Welcome to the world of 2020.
Now before you misunderstand what I’m saying, let me remind you what I said a few paragraphs earlier, that when man had no way to control death, he was not controlled by the fear of death. I am NOT saying that we should reject all modern medical advancements. My own 7-year old sister would not be here if it were not for the scientific developments that have been made in the world of diabetes. Without insulin and a blood sugar monitor, she would not be alive today. And I am so unbelievably grateful we have the technology and medicine to manage her disease.
But what I am saying is that with the ability to “control” death comes the danger of being controlled by a fear of death. A danger of placing all of our trust and security in the shaking foundation of humanity instead of the unshakable foundation of God. We have the danger of making science our God.
“New Year. Same Mission. Zero Deaths”.
That sign is so misleading and so wrong because even with everything we can do to “control” death, there is one foundational reality that will never change. That is that every single one of us is going to die at some point. No matter what we do, no matter how hard we fight, we are all slowly and steadily advancing towards the end of our life here on this earth.
The staggering worldwide reaction to this coronavirus pandemic has been one of overwhelming fear. Every single day for over a year now, the headlines have focused on death counts, and an increasing death toll. Even when numbers are declining, they still find a way to cause fear every single day as if saying “until there are ZERO covid deaths you must be afraid of death”. The message is one of fear and control.
Listen, I understand how paralyzing fear can be. And I know firsthand how awful and destructive covid can be. I have close friends who have been working as nurses on covid floors for a full year now. I have heard their horror stories. I am not saying this is not real.
But what I am saying is that a year later, I think we need to evaluate our reaction. A year later I think we need to pay attention to what we are listening to. A year later we need to ask ourselves, in our attempt to outrun death, have we stopped living?
I’m going to repeat myself: death, while always tragic and heartbreaking, is a natural and inevitable part of life. Nothing is guaranteed in this life. There’s one crucial question you need to ask yourself, is your fear of death inhibiting you living?
There are a few things we can do to guard against being controlled by a fear of death: