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On The Death of Robin Williams

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  • fm93
    replied
    Does it make sense now, seer?

    Originally posted by square_peg View Post
    Phrasing it as "the final refusal to see the worth in anything" and "the willingness to saddle your family with pain and misery" is disturbing and inaccurate. Depression-influenced suicide didn't involve refusal, but an inability to see worth and beauty and a reason to continue. Walsh makes it sound like Robin Williams woke up one day and thought "Let's see, what shall I do today? Go on living, or saddle my family with pain and misery for the rest of their lives? Hmm...I dunno, I think I'm feeling option #2 today. Think I'll go with that." In reality, some depressed individuals feel that they're a burden or nuisance on their family, and are led to believe that suicide is the way to remove that and make things easier on their loved ones. When Walsh speaks of it being a choice, he seems to be saying that suicide, unlike afflictions such as cancer or natural disasters, is something within one's control, but that's where he misrepresents the nature of depression. It warps and distorts one's thinking so that ultimately the depression, not the individual, is in control.

    Here's what David Foster Wallace* (another brilliant man who tragically took his own life in the throes of depression) said about the illness:

    The so-called ‘psychotically depressed’ person who tries to kill herself doesn’t do so out of quote ‘hopelessness’ or any abstract conviction that life’s assets and debits do not square. And surely not because death seems suddenly appealing. The person in whom Its invisible agony reaches a certain unendurable level will kill herself the same way a trapped person will eventually jump from the window of a burning high-rise. Make no mistake about people who leap from burning windows. Their terror of falling from a great height is still just as great as it would be for you or me standing speculatively at the same window just checking out the view; i.e. the fear of falling remains a constant. The variable here is the other terror, the fire’s flames: when the flames get close enough, falling to death becomes the slightly less terrible of two terrors. It’s not desiring the fall; it’s terror of the flames. And yet nobody down on the sidewalk, looking up and yelling ‘Don’t!’ and ‘Hang on!’, can understand the jump. Not really. You’d have to have personally been trapped and felt flames to really understand a terror way beyond falling.”


    So you could say that suicide is a "choice" in the sense that a conscious decision was made to fashion the noose, but it isn't a choice between two or more options, because the nature of depression is such that the individual becomes convinced that suicide is the only option. And more significantly, it wasn't Robin Williams who made the choice, but the depression that hijacked his mind.


    *Who, come to think of it, was once said to be to literature what Robin Williams was to comedy

    Leave a comment:


  • Cow Poke
    replied
    Originally posted by One Bad Pig View Post
    Absolutely agree. It can't be easy for a pastor to preside over the funeral of a non-believer, but that doesn't excuse false platitudes. I wouldn't endorse a fire-n-brimstone sermon at the time either, but yeah - a funeral is a good time to drive home the seriousness of death without Christ.
    Yeah

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  • Apologiaphoenix
    replied
    I was one of three pastors at my grandmother's funeral. I had ten minutes to speak and then I was to wrap it up by being a Master of Ceremonies and letting people speak about my grandmother that were in the audience.

    I remember before I spoke her pastor got up and for his ten minutes said "Right now she is experiencing the resurrection!"

    I was thinking "Sorry Pastor, but it looks like her body is right there."

    What did I do? I thought there could always be non-Christians in the audience, so the first thing I did was spend five minutes or so doing a minimal facts presentation on the resurrection to let people know this happened. Then, I spent the last five minutes talking about my grandmother and what difference the resurrection makes.

    I can say on a good side as well that the audience definitely liked it. A cousin of mine is a pastor and was one of the people who preached and as soon as he heard me, he was telling my Dad he wanted me to come speak at his church sometime, which I did.

    Leave a comment:


  • One Bad Pig
    replied
    Originally posted by mossrose View Post
    However. When death becomes "the great equalizer", there is a problem with funeral or memorial services, imo, not facing the reality of the consequences of sin.

    My brother committed suicide 21 years ago. He left a wife, and 2 young children. He would be 55 this year.

    I thought I was in the wrong building at his funeral. He did not profess any conversion. The funeral was all about how he is in heaven and we will all see him again some day. The gospel was not presented. All the things that I knew about my brother and how he lived his life were swept under the carpet and he was made out to be this wonderful husband and father, and he was not.

    I don't know where he is right now. I leave that in God's hands. But I would have been far more comforted at his funeral if the gospel had been presented and the reality of death without Christ made plain. Of course, that would have made the majority of the people there, his worldly friends and family, very uncomfortable. So, I will be frowned upon by those who think we shouldn't make anybody uncomfortable with the truth of the gospel.
    Absolutely agree. It can't be easy for a pastor to preside over the funeral of a non-believer, but that doesn't excuse false platitudes. I wouldn't endorse a fire-n-brimstone sermon at the time either, but yeah - a funeral is a good time to drive home the seriousness of death without Christ.

    Leave a comment:


  • Sparko
    replied
    I have it in my will that I want the gospel preached at my funeral.

    Leave a comment:


  • Cow Poke
    replied
    Originally posted by mossrose View Post
    Yes, there is that aspect to a funeral or memorial service.

    However. When death becomes "the great equalizer", there is a problem with funeral or memorial services, imo, not facing the reality of the consequences of sin.

    My brother committed suicide 21 years ago. He left a wife, and 2 young children. He would be 55 this year.

    I thought I was in the wrong building at his funeral. He did not profess any conversion. The funeral was all about how he is in heaven and we will all see him again some day. The gospel was not presented. All the things that I knew about my brother and how he lived his life were swept under the carpet and he was made out to be this wonderful husband and father, and he was not.

    I don't know where he is right now. I leave that in God's hands. But I would have been far more comforted at his funeral if the gospel had been presented and the reality of death without Christ made plain. Of course, that would have made the majority of the people there, his worldly friends and family, very uncomfortable. So, I will be frowned upon by those who think we shouldn't make anybody uncomfortable with the truth of the gospel.

    As for your other point, yes, we will disagree, you and I, but I love you anyway.

    Yeah, my wife and I were both pretty surprised at her mother's funeral. My wife wanted to go up and look in the casket and make sure that was really her Mom, because the person they were eulogizing made Mother Teresa look like a reprobate. Her Mom was "ok", but had ZERO interest in God, and initially was unhappy that her daughter married a pastor. The female pastor recounted 'hundreds of times" she and my mother-in-law spent discussing the Bible in my Mother-in-law's home. My Mother-in-law had told us shortly before she died "that woman came over to my house to try to force me to pledge money to her Church".

    I love the old expression "live your life in such a way that the Pastor can be totally honest at your funeral".

    Leave a comment:


  • mossrose
    replied
    Originally posted by Raphael View Post
    A friend of mine's father died of cancer a number of years back (circa 2000). He was a vocal atheist. I wanted to smack the Methodist minister performing the funeral service who said: "Although Colin wasn't a believer, we know he is now safely in heaven with our Lord, where he is no longer suffering or in pain."
    Yup. Exactly!

    Leave a comment:


  • Raphael
    replied
    Originally posted by mossrose View Post
    Yes, there is that aspect to a funeral or memorial service.

    However. When death becomes "the great equalizer", there is a problem with funeral or memorial services, imo, not facing the reality of the consequences of sin.

    My brother committed suicide 21 years ago. He left a wife, and 2 young children. He would be 55 this year.

    I thought I was in the wrong building at his funeral. He did not profess any conversion. The funeral was all about how he is in heaven and we will all see him again some day. The gospel was not presented. All the things that I knew about my brother and how he lived his life were swept under the carpet and he was made out to be this wonderful husband and father, and he was not.

    I don't know where he is right now. I leave that in God's hands. But I would have been far more comforted at his funeral if the gospel had been presented and the reality of death without Christ made plain. Of course, that would have made the majority of the people there, his worldly friends and family, very uncomfortable. So, I will be frowned upon by those who think we shouldn't make anybody uncomfortable with the truth of the gospel.

    As for your other point, yes, we will disagree, you and I, but I love you anyway.

    A friend of mine's father died of cancer a number of years back (circa 2000). He was a vocal atheist. I wanted to smack the Methodist minister performing the funeral service who said: "Although Colin wasn't a believer, we know he is now safely in heaven with our Lord, where he is no longer suffering or in pain."

    Leave a comment:


  • Raphael
    replied
    Originally posted by KingsGambit View Post
    Apparently he had been attending a couple of evangelical churches in San Francisco and New York occasionally, so there is at least cause for hope.
    He was Episcopalian, and although he joked about it some ("Catholic Lite—same rituals, half the guilt."). Did he have a saving faith in Christ I dunno. I do hope he did.

    Leave a comment:


  • mossrose
    replied
    Originally posted by One Bad Pig View Post
    But AFAICS the hope expressed comforts the grieving, regardless. In much the same way, a funeral does the same.

    I'm going to answer my own question by saying that, by showing respect for the dead (and going through the ceremony of a funeral and burial), we comfort those who remain. I disagree with the assertion that they don't know or care about what we think or do, but this is probably not the place for that discussion.
    Yes, there is that aspect to a funeral or memorial service.

    However. When death becomes "the great equalizer", there is a problem with funeral or memorial services, imo, not facing the reality of the consequences of sin.

    My brother committed suicide 21 years ago. He left a wife, and 2 young children. He would be 55 this year.

    I thought I was in the wrong building at his funeral. He did not profess any conversion. The funeral was all about how he is in heaven and we will all see him again some day. The gospel was not presented. All the things that I knew about my brother and how he lived his life were swept under the carpet and he was made out to be this wonderful husband and father, and he was not.

    I don't know where he is right now. I leave that in God's hands. But I would have been far more comforted at his funeral if the gospel had been presented and the reality of death without Christ made plain. Of course, that would have made the majority of the people there, his worldly friends and family, very uncomfortable. So, I will be frowned upon by those who think we shouldn't make anybody uncomfortable with the truth of the gospel.

    As for your other point, yes, we will disagree, you and I, but I love you anyway.

    Leave a comment:


  • Cow Poke
    replied
    Originally posted by KingsGambit View Post
    Apparently he had been attending a couple of evangelical churches in San Francisco and New York occasionally, so there is at least cause for hope.
    Yeah, I always try to remind myself that man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart. I think that's written down somewhere.

    Leave a comment:


  • One Bad Pig
    replied
    Originally posted by KingsGambit View Post
    One of my issues with it is that it seems flippant. It's something we say reflexively without thinking much of the meaning, as is evidenced with the comparison with "bless you" after sneezing. Death is a serious enough event and people matter enough that we shouldn't just resort to meaningless platitudes.
    Except IMO people generally mean it when they say it. A death is rather more serious than a sneeze, after all.

    Leave a comment:


  • One Bad Pig
    replied
    Originally posted by mossrose View Post
    It is true we don't know. But our hope changes nothing for that person.
    But AFAICS the hope expressed comforts the grieving, regardless. In much the same way, a funeral does the same.
    And I guess it doesn't matter if we disrespect the dead. They don't know or care about what we think or do. It is simply, perhaps, ingrained in us by our culture.
    I'm going to answer my own question by saying that, by showing respect for the dead (and going through the ceremony of a funeral and burial), we comfort those who remain. I disagree with the assertion that they don't know or care about what we think or do, but this is probably not the place for that discussion.

    Leave a comment:


  • KingsGambit
    replied
    Originally posted by Cow Poke View Post
    I think R.I.P. comes from the more understandable hopeful proclamation "MAY he rest in peace", hence the "hope" to which OBP refers.

    From his "fruit", I would guess Williams was not a believer, but, in hope, one could say "may he rest in peace".
    Apparently he had been attending a couple of evangelical churches in San Francisco and New York occasionally, so there is at least cause for hope.

    Leave a comment:


  • KingsGambit
    replied
    One of my issues with it is that it seems flippant. It's something we say reflexively without thinking much of the meaning, as is evidenced with the comparison with "bless you" after sneezing. Death is a serious enough event and people matter enough that we shouldn't just resort to meaningless platitudes.

    Leave a comment:

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