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THE WESTERN MIND & THE DENIAL OF DEATH - Stephen Jenkinson -London Real

Video from London Real

"Stephen Jenkinson is a American Storyteller, Teacher and Author. He holds a masters degree in Theology from Harvard University and a masters in social work from the University of Toronto. During two decades of working in palliative-care, he counselled over 1500 people at their deathbeds. His work led him to identify a “death-phobic society”, which provided the framework for his award winning book Die Wise: A Manifesto for Sanity and Soul. His most recent book, Come of Age: The Case for Elderhood in a Time of Trouble, explains that we must birth a new generation of elders, willing to be true stewards of the planet and its species." Watch the FULL EPISODE here:

Does death cause sin or does sin cause death?

In this time of pandemic and the alternate reality of the internet we are seeing Death Denial in full force. Death surrounds us now in Western culture in a way it has not in a hundred years. Yet we still have people who think its a hoax or a media exaggeration. With cold storage units filled with hundreds and thousands of bodies the escape from reality is amazing and troubling. And that denial of reality goes well beyond just death to belief in conspiracies (lies) and other fanciful imaginings.

As William Jenkinson makes clear in the video a country devoid of ancestral wisdom and discernment we don't know what to do or think so we make it up as we go. Societies will not survive in such an environment. Most of us know nothing about our grandfathers/grandmothers and beyond. Our history and heritage as citizens and individuals is in free fall. God is the only mooring in such a society, yet many are Godless, secular or agnostic and many Christians have fallen victim to the secular mindset.

Death causes Sin comes out of the biblical articulation found in 1 Corinthians 15:56, “The sting of death is sin.” This is the flip side of the coin that many are much more familiar with of the Protestant tradition’s: Sin Causes Death. If we start out with 1 John 3:8, where Jesus comes to undo the works of the devil, and Hebrews 2:14-15, where Jesus (God the Son) enters into our humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death, (the Devil or Satan the Accuser) to set free those who all their lives have been enslaved by the fear of death.

Richard Beck in his excellent book The Slavery of Death reminds us that: “As biological creatures, we are not saved from the fear of death – that would be an impossible, foolish goal. We are, rather, saved from a slavery to the fear of death,” The complete and unconditional love of God through Christ casts out fear, the cross gives us the ability to choose love over death.

Be reflective, are you afraid of death? As a Christian then you must pray, confess and read scripture, ask The person of the Holy Spirit to enlighten you about your death and your future in eternity. I for one am at peace with death. Having had cancer four times and having been told I could have died more than once I have a feel so to speak for my own mortality. I know my body will fail and my spirit will leave this body to be with Christ, how great is that?!

William Stringfellow, (American lay theologian, lawyer and social activist) said “Death is the only moral significance that a principality proffers human beings. That is to say, whatever intrinsic moral power is embodied in a principality – for a great corporation, profit, for example; or for a nation, hegemony; or for an ideology, conformity – that is sooner or later suspended by the greater moral power of death. Corporations die. Nations die. Ideologies die. Death survives them all. Death is – apart from God – the greatest moral power in this world, outlasting and subduing all other powers no matter how marvelous they may seem for the time being. This means, theologically speaking, that the object of allegiance and servitude, the real idol secreted within all idolatries, the power above all principalities and powers – idol of all idols – is death.” The fear of death then produces the works of the Devil (aka: Satan The Accuser) such as rivalry, strife, greed, malice and violence in our culture. We then even as Christians produce the devil’s works is at the foundation of our identity.

William Stringfellow, goes on to say: “The genius of the Christian life, both for a person and for the company of Christians, is the freedom constantly to be engaged in giving up its own life in order to give the world new life.”

Stanley Hauerwas’ wisdom that, “to follow Jesus is to undergo a training that refuses to let death, even death at the hands of enemies, determine the shape of our living,” What we see then is the enduring nature of death and resurrection in Christian living. Richard Beck quotes Craig Hovey: “The virtues necessary to be a martyr are no different from the virtues necessary to be a faithful Christian.” There is a profound ordinariness, in a supernatural way, to the practices recommend by Beck to form our identities in God the Father.

God the Father's love sets us free from the slavery of the fear of death, and enables us to join Jesus in his mission to proclaim good news and to destroy, subvert, overcome the works and deeds of the devil.

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