Fr Richard John Neuhaus, the publisher and editor of the iconic journal ‘First Things’ died last night in New York from cancer.
This is a reflection that he wrote on death back in 2000:
We are born to die. Not that death is the purpose of our being born, but we are born toward death, and in each of our lives the work of dying is already underway. The work of dying well is, in largest part, the work of living well. Most of us are at ease in discussing what makes for a good life, but we typically become tongue-tied and nervous when the discussion turns to a good death. As children of a culture radically, even religiously, devoted to youth and health, many find it incomprehensible, indeed offensive, that the word “good” should in any way be associated with death. Death, it is thought, is an unmitigated evil, the very antithesis of all that is good.
We also heard at the end of last year of the passing of Cardinal Avery Dulles. This is a reflection that he wrote:
The behavior of living organisms cannot be explained without taking into account their striving for life and growth. Plants, by reaching out for sunlight and nourishment, betray an intrinsic aspiration to live and grow. This internal finality makes them capable of success and failure in ways that stones and minerals are not. Because of the ontological gap that separates the living from the nonliving, the emergence of life cannot be accounted for on the basis of purely mechanical principles. In tune with this school of thought, the English mathematical physicist John Polkinghorne holds that Darwinism is incapable of explaining why multicellular plants and animals arise when single-cellular organisms seem to cope with the environment quite successfully. There must be in the universe a thrust toward higher and more-complex forms.
…Materialistic Darwinism is incapable of explaining why the universe gives rise to subjectivity, feeling, and striving.