I have recently finished Peter Bolt’s Living With the Underworld. We did it as part of the Digging Deeper Bookclub at St Paul’s.

I have had a good time reading and discussing this with others, both online and at a discussion group we ran at my place.

One of the things that struck me about the book was the observation about how the fear of death lies at the basis of most human anxiety and behaviour. It is an extended discussion, but here’s a taste:

Now it all comes together! Because of our sin, the world lies under the sentence of death, a sentence we carry around with us in our mortal flesh. This causes a profound disruptive anxiety, a fear of death, that may be expressed in different ways, and masked in different ways, but is always there. This fear of death makes us long for security, for something that will calm our fears. We are security-seeking missles, and this opens us up to believe the lies of the devil, who tells us that our security is to be found in the things of this world. And, of course, these are all his to give, because this world belongs to him. At that point, our fear of death has taken us to exactly where the master of the underworld wants us: we are his slaves.

Peter Bolt, Living With the Underworld Kingsford: Matthias Media, 2007, 98-99.

I reckon he’s right. After I read this, I began looking around for signs of confirmation. And found one in the most bizarre place – the children’s wear department of a local department store. We were looking for clothes for the boys, and I noticed that most of the shirts are covered in skulls. Shirts for 4 year olds, covered in the symbol of death!! What’s going on with that?!

Of course, the designers will print stuff that they think, boy will think is ‘cool’. But I wonder whether the attempt to make death ‘cool’ is just another way of trying to avoid the anxiety that it provokes in us? And why not start that process at a young age?

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Filed under bookclub, death

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