I watched the Indianapolis 500 Race today - born and bred Hoosier that I am - from the wilds of Northern Virginia. For a more innocent age, the Indy 500 served as an annual attraction of great magnitude every Memorial Day weekend. But today, as commercials demanded my attention (and the race continued in a small screen, upper left), I felt bitterness and pity for the citizens of this not-so innocent age.
Modern life is one vast misdirect: rings of hypnotists each with an even more fascinating object swinging before the eyes of persons to keep us from dwelling on … on ... what? The inevitability of the end of one’s life. Prime time TV: watch the melodramas of this and that desperate soul – they are all more “real” than your, than my, puny and insignificant life. Right?
"THE ONE WHO DIES WITH THE MOST TOYS WINS!" proclaims a stupid bumper sticker. And my guess is that 95% of people reading it agree: it is stupid.
But we are still mesmerized by a vast hoard trying to convince us -- and largely succeeding -- that life THIS side of death is not meant to be spent thinking about ETERNITY. Think instead of your sex appeal, your sexual identity and/or conquests, your teeth, your fashion statement. Of, if you are combative, your enemies, their plans, your counterplans, revenge ... ANYTHING not to think about what will happen after you die.
J. R. R. Tolkien is often accused of painting the innocence of his brain-children, hobbits, as impossibly naive, agrarian, and communitarian. Actually, Tolkien knew they were suspicious, largely ignorant, and prejudiced. But he knew, too, that modern society was a sad, deplorable parody for the way human beings were meant to live. By contrast, the Shire was far preferable, humane, and not "distracted to death."
As one who has had a brush with the big C - a "transitional cell carcinoma of the renal pelvis" - I resent the time I have wasted, the priorities I have misaligned, the squandered energy, money, and love - when I could have been living, moving, and having my being more in accord with what the Catholic faith considers vital as preparation for Eternity.
In my reprieve, I am rethinking many, many matters. Why wait? Why not join me?