Posts tagged ‘suicide’

April 3, 2012

You Are Not Alone (YANA): An Organization to Help the Hurting

by Max Andrews

One of my friends recently founded an organization that I believe is a powerful witness to the hope that we have within us for the hurting.  Here’s a little bit about the organization.

You Are Not Alone, or YANA, was founded in late March 2012 as a result of the eyes of two college students being opened to the reality of domestic abuse.  Charlie Evans and Austin Rahn found themselves in a heartfelt discussion about the friends and family they know who have dealt with abuse, and decided it was time someone did something about it.  Literally overnight, YANA was born.  The two immediately began to put together a Facebook page, Twitter account, YouTube video, etc. in accordance with their slogan, “Speak Up, Speak Out, Speak Now.”  In less than two days the Facebook page had over 100 fans.   

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April 1, 2012

VT Debate and Quote Mining

by Max Andrews

During the VT debate on the existence of God one of the atheists quoted a section of my blog concerning the issue of teleology and suicide.  The quote read:

If there is no God to provide meaning, value, and purpose, the only consistent option for humanity is suicide.[17]  Any becoming of life-affirming or life-denying acts are illusory.  Absolutely nothing can be a positive or negative act for the individual since there is nothing to determine a differentiation.  One is forced to face Nietzsche’s abyss and face the reality that no rope can scale the depth of nothingness.  One is only left with despair, guilt, and angst.  If one can determine that despair, guilt, and angst are not preferred then his only option is to eliminate such emotions and thoughts.  If there is no God, the only remedy for absurdism is to participate in Nietzsche’s abyss of nothingness:  suicide.

This was taken from a previous post of mine on how God provides meaning and purpose. In this quote I had a footnote reference to elaborate on one of these points.  This footnote (17) reads:

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February 3, 2012

Real Men Like the Ballet

by Max Andrews

I was speaking with a good friend of mine earlier today and she told me about why her recent ex-boyfriend broke up with her (let’s call her Jane and him Richard).  Jane is in her last year as an undergraduate in theatre.  Richard couldn’t come to terms with an appreciation for theatre and the arts. According to him these things are only useful if used for explicit ministerial purposes.  This led to Richard breaking up with Jane.  This is such a sad state of affairs.  What makes this a curious situation is that I’m fairly confident this ideology is rampant in men.  I often hear that if a man is in theatre, the ballet, or the arts he must be gay or feminine. I’m going to argue on the contrary. It seems that being masculine or manly has become equivocated with being macho or a rough and tough man who likes football and hockey.  There’s nothing wrong with football and hockey, surely real men can like these too, but there’s more to being a masculine man than just that. Men who have an appreciation for theatre, ballet, opera, gymnastics, poetry, and the arts are men who encompass so much more about life.

Let’s primarily consider just a few of these examples.  Ballet is such a beautiful feat.  This is one of the most beautiful expressions of the beauty and ability of the human body. Imagine an adagio, slow graceful movements to slow music, while the woman is performing several movements and entrechats and she comes to rest in battement tendu (sliding her straightened out leg beside her).  While she comes to her last position imagine the man gracefully approaching her for their final coda.  He forms his body to hers for a perfect coupling. The grace, discipline, strength, and the form of dance is a spectacular demonstration of the body.  It’s a presentation of how the beauty of the body can be expressed–the intimacy of the coupling of body to body.

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October 23, 2011

The Reality of Life if There is No God

by Max Andrews

If God does not exist then man lives in Bertrand Russell’s world of scaffolding despair.  Man is merely the product of pointless cause and effects with no prevision of the ends being achieved.  All the labors of the age, devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vase death of the solar system.  Man’s achievements are destined to be buried in the debris of the universe.  Only within the scaffolding of these [teleological] truths, only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair, can the soul’s habitation henceforth be safely built.[1]

If there is no God to provide meaning, value, and purpose, the only consistent option for humanity is suicide.[2]  Any becoming of life-affirming or life-denying acts are illusory.  Absolutely nothing can be a positive or negative act for the individual since there is nothing to determine a differentiation.  One is forced to face Nietzsche’s abyss and face the reality that no rope can scale the depth of nothingness.  One is only left with despair, guilt, and angst.  If one can determine that despair, guilt, and angst are not preferred then his only option is to eliminate such emotions and thoughts (if the implication, by any means, can be determined to be better).  If there is no God, the only remedy for absurdism is to participate in Nietzsche’s abyss of nothingness:  suicide.

(As a note, I want to emphasize that I am not advocating suicide.  I completely disagree with the starting premise that there is no God.  I believe the logic is sound but since there is a God, there is objective purpose, value, and meaning to life.  If you are struggling with the thought of suicide please tell someone.)


            [1] Bertrand Russell, Mysticism and Logic (New York:  Barnes & Noble, 1917), 47-48.

            [2] Here is where Sartre, Camus, and others disagree.  Because of absurdity, man’s only option is to choose suicide.  Death is the only means by which it can be overcome.  In a Christian context, God recognizes that death is the only way to overcome man’s absurdity.  The means by which God provides teleology is by means of death.  God becomes incarnate and overcomes absurdity by means of his own death, which may be imputed to humanity.  Here we find a paradox.  In order for there to be a genuine sense of teleology and becoming there must be death.  There must be death to bring about life, a life of becoming, relationships, and of teleological existence.

April 26, 2011

When We Are Most Like God

by Max Andrews

This past weekend I learned quite a bit about God.  My fiancée and I decided to go to Cracker Barrel for lunch, a favorite of ours.  We sat down and we started talking about family and the issue of pain, suffering, and evil sneaked its way into our discussion.  Evil, pain, and suffering are  very serious issues that I do not take lightly.  I lectured on the problem of evil a couple of weeks ago to one of my philosophy classes I assist/teach.  I have the hardest time talking about pain and suffering and teaching it was difficult for me as well.  I spent the first 40 minutes emphasizing how important the issue is ranging from its permeation into culture such as the movie I Am Legend film (Will Smith’s character denies God’s existence because of the evil), September 11th, and to Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov.  I thought about our response to pain and suffering and then it dawned on me… a response of compassion, sympathy, and real spiritual anguish over such pain and suffering is when we are most like God.

I’m not going to say that this is the moment when we are closest to God, but for me, it’s when I am closest to him.  We are commanded to do good works and bear spiritual fruit.  I find myself trying so hard to do good things and to bear fruit but it’s often for impure reasons.  Perhaps it may be because I know if I repent from a sin I will feel better, but my repentance isn’t for God, it’s for myself.  It may be the case that I do it for self-exaltation but claim to do it for God’s exaltation.  There will be some selfish reasons that I may want to deny and really say that they are for God, but most likely it’s not.  However, I find that the least unadulterated reflection of God that is present in me is the pain and compassion I feel for others who are in pain and suffering.

In 2005-2006 my brother was in Iraq.  His six-month pregnant wife died while he was in Iraq (for causes that are still unknown to us).  Her funeral was the most painful experience I’ve ever been through.  Yes, I lost a sister-in-law and a niece, but to be honest, the most painful thing was to see my family experience that.  Consider September 11th.  Is your heart too hard to break to watch human beings jump from a height of 80 floors to their death?  Those who jumped really believed that their jumping was the better option between staying where they were in a burning building, condemned to suffer for only a few more minutes before their assured death at collapse, and yet they chose suicide believing that to be the best choice.

Consider Kevin Carter who won the Pulitzer Prize and not long after winning it, committed suicide in April 1994 because of the very thing he won it for while he was in Africa.  He photographed a starving little girl being watched by a looming vulture as she literally starved to death right in front of him.  He left a suicide note which said, “I am depressed… without phone… money for rent… money for child support… money for debts… money! … I am haunted by the vivid memories of killings and corpses and anger and pain… of starving wounded children, of trigger-happy madmen, often police, of killer executioners… the pain of life overrides the joy to the point that joy does not exist… I have got to join Ken (a colleague of his) if I am that lucky.”  He then hooked a hose to his car exhaust and fed it into his car where he sat, the act which took his life away from him.  Is your heart not broken and shattered by the weight of compassion and pain for both Kevin and the children and carnage he witnessed?

Kevin Carter's "Photo of Sudanese Girl and Vulture"

Compassion and reciprocated spiritual pain for those who are suffering is the least likely aspect of the image of God in us that will be adulterated when it comes to fruition.  Many of Jesus’ miracles were because he felt compassion for those around him.  God’s compassion and spiritual pain pales in comparison to what we experience.  Does God suffer?  Absolutely.  The divine suffering is the manifest effects of our sin, this divine suffering, which I cannot ascribe the most articulate and specific words to express an equivalent apprehension of the meaning, bears witness at the cross of Jesus Christ.  I didn’t expect to find that when I am most Christ-like is when I am in the midst of pain and suffering or when I experience the spiritual pains of others and feel compassion.  I pray that my sin doesn’t adulterate my compassion and pain for those who are in pain any more than it already has.

January 12, 2011

The Absurdity of Life

by Max Andrews

Divine teleology is what gives the universe meaning, value, and purpose.  I recently wrote a paper titled:  The Absurdity of Life and Reconciliation by Divine Telos. I’ll skip to the end of the paper so you know my conclusion on the role of teleology.  Notice the role of death.

The two divisions of absurdism and teleology are, by all evidence, binding.  If God does not exist then man lives in Bertrand Russell’s world of scaffolding despair.  Man is merely the product of pointless cause and effects with no prevision of the ends being achieved.  All the labors of the age, devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vase death of the solar system.  Man’s achievements are destined to be buried in the debris of the universe.  Only within the scaffolding of these [teleological] truths, only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair, can the soul’s habitation henceforth be safely built.[1]

If there is no God to provide meaning, value, and purpose, the only consistent option for humanity is suicide.[2] Any becoming of life-affirming or life-denying acts are illusory.  Absolutely nothing can be a positive or negative act for the individual since there is nothing to determine a differentiation.  One is forced to face Nietzsche’s abyss and face the reality that no rope can scale the depth of nothingness.  One is only left with despair, guilt, and angst.  If one can determine that despair, guilt, and angst are not preferred then his only option is to eliminate such emotions and thoughts.  If there is no God, the only remedy for absurdism is to participate in Nietzsche’s abyss of nothingness:  suicide.

[1] Bertrand Russell, Mysticism and Logic (New York:  Barnes & Noble, 1917), 47-48.

[2] Here is where Sartre, Camus, and others disagree.  Because of absurdity, man’s only option is to choose suicide.  Death is the only means by which it can be overcome.  In a Christian context, God recognizes that death is the only way to overcome man’s absurdity.  The means by which God provides teleology is by means of death.  God becomes incarnate and overcomes absurdity by means of his own death, which may be imputed to humanity.  Here we find a paradox.  In order for there to be a genuine sense of teleology and becoming there must be death.  There must be death to bring about life, a life of becoming, relationships, and of teleological existence.