I love reading the Anchoress. And when someone recently asked me for great reads on line, her blog was one I recommended highly.
Today, though, I think she’s wrong.
Here is the interesting question…when a life has been lived with a sense of deep mission – as in either Hamlet’s or Harry’s case – and that mission has been fulfilled, what is the purpose of the life, thereafter? If the 18 year old Harry (or a 20-something year old Hamlet) have accomplished their goal, the thing that has driven them and given their whole life meaning and purpose, are we supposed to believe they can ever rest easy in a sort of “busywork” retirement? Perhaps this is why monarchs, old generals, popes, entrepreneurs, mother-hung rock stars and CBS newsmen can never willingly retire and live out their days. Without their sense of mission, life has no thrust and parry, no vivacity, no purpose.
That’s one of the things she said. And my first thought was a screaming brain “NO!” This is the attitude that lets people give up on their lives too easily. This is the attitude that killed Romeo and Juliet. Unfortunately it is the attitude that kills many people, by their own hand.
Just because you have done one GREAT thing in your life, does not mean your life is over. It does not mean the meaning of your life is finished. (I don’t think she would have said that, though it seems to me to be what she said.)
So what if you’ve written the Great American Novel and you only had one in you? Does that mean your life is over? No. Maybe you living on will mean your great-grandchild will re-create the country through his/her Great American Video.
God takes the long view. I think we should try to do that more often.
It’s like Susanna Wesley. How many kids do you want? Your children are grown. Isn’t your life finished? But no. Her prayers for her children ended up influencing thousands. (I know it was John and Charles, but don’t you think Susanna’s prayers continued to influence their lives? I do.)
I think that we tend to give up life too easily in this culture. We have abortion. Giving up brand new life. We have assisted suicide. Giving up life when it is hard. We have suicide. Giving up life when we don’t like it.
And so I don’t think Harry should die. Okay, so he won’t be Superman every day. So what?
I think that Ken Osmond, from “Leave it to Beaver,” is a good example. He was a famous Hollywood kid star. (Who didn’t love to hate Eddie Haskell?) And he grew up. And he wasn’t a star anymore. So what did he do? Did he die? Did he whine and wine his life away? No. He became a police officer. It is possible that in that line of work he did far more good than he did as a star. It’s not as famous. It’s not as well paid. It’s not as “important” by the world’s definition of important. But it’s a good way to live a grown up life. A life of responsibility.
That’s not what I wrote on the Anchoress’ comments, though. You can only write so much there. And I wrote a lot. I’m not sure I have said it well enough yet, but here’s how I started saying it:
Neither Hamlet nor Harry’s life is over when the work of the prose is done. They are characters; that is true. So in that sense their life is over.
But Hamlet could have gone on to be a gracious king. He could have found love, raised children, been a model of how to overcome. Of course Shakespeare wrote the play as a tragedy, so he had to die. But if Hamlet were real, he wouldn’t die. It would tidy up his life too easily. The “big” challenges aren’t always the hardest. Sometimes living the life we’ve been given is the hardest.
And so I do not think that Harry should die. It goes too easily into the idea of suicide and death as the great redeemer. “I’ve finished my life’s work, so it’s time to die.” Or, “I’ve done the most important thing, so it’s time to die.”
No. Only Jesus, who actually knew his life’s work in the eternal plan, could say such and he only said it when someone else was killing him.
But if Harry dies, I think it will contribute to an easier acceptance of death by our culture. And I think we already have too easy of an acceptance. “Do not go gentle into that good night” is still a rallying cry we need to hear. “Death be not proud” is a rightful rebuke.
So I hope her “might” is a purposeful misleading, even if Harry has to go through his 20s figuring out what HE wants to do with his life, rather than doing what he has to do (go to Hogwarts) and doing what he needs to do (fight Voldemort). Yeah, it won’t be as exciting. But life isn’t always exciting.
Wow. Guess that was a button.
And I know there are people with more experience with suicides than I have. So I am not sure why this is such a button. But it did get pushed today.