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The Individual, the Church, and the Ars Moriendi (the Art of Dying), Part 4

  • Broadcast in Christianity
Daniel Whyte III

Daniel Whyte III


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The Bible says in Psalm 23:4: “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.”

The featured quote for this episode is from humorist Charles Bukowski. He said, 
"I carry death in my left pocket. Sometimes I take it out and talk to it: I say, ‘Hello, how you doing? When are you coming for me? I'll be ready.’"

Our topic for today is titled "The Individual, the Church, and the Ars Moriendi (the Art of Dying), Part 4" from the book, "The Art of Dying: Living Fully into the Life to Come" by Rob Moll.

--- A Dying Face 

The early ars moriendi taught that the spirit of the Christian was quite alive, wrestling with angels and demons, even as the body died. Therefore, death was to be actively undertaken. Though Christians changed in their beliefs about what happens at the moment of death, they never dismissed the idea that the spirit was still active. 
Modern science teaches that in the process of dying, when death is not caused by trauma, a body actually shuts itself down. It does not simply stop working. Rather, organs prepare themselves to cease their function, like a factory closing shop by turning off the machines and sweeping before cutting the power. So our body, even while dying, is still working. In the same way, the spirit of the Christian is too. 

For example, hospice workers often report seemingly strange events which, for them, are proof of purposeful living even in a dying person. Some wait hours or even days until they are alone before dying.