Like millions of others, I was deeply moved by Paul E. Schroeder’s op-ed about the death of his son, Augie. (Washington Post, Tuesday, January 3) I agree that from the perspective Paul is viewing it, a misguided foreign policy and foolish military tactics, Augie became yet another wasted life, an unnecessary casualty of war.
My comments are more about the theological implications of a wasted life.
It is a waste whenever a person’s life is snuffed out in the prime of life, after they have developed their own unique personality, after they have been educated and prepared to benefit the people around them, just by being themselves.
It is a waste whenever a person’s life ends in ripe old age, after they have raised a family, worked all their life, gone to school, gained wisdom, insight, humility, and historic perspective.
It is a waste whenever a person’s life is aborted before they can start it, or they are born dead, or they die in infancy, or they die in childhood before they can reach their potential.
Each death, of every person, is indeed a waste if we do not view it in the context of God’s promise of a second life, a fresh opportunity to return with the same memory, the same personality, the same dreams, to continue growing and be re-united with loved ones.
I believe that Augie is now firmly in the loving memory of God, just as freshly and warmly as he lives in the memories of his family. And I believe that God is happy because he knows that all people are in his memory* … and that when the time comes for Augie and all other people to return, the education, usefulness, love and dreaming will continue. And new vistas will open, as horizons expand to fill the entire world, and timeframes expand to fill eternity.
Augie will meet the guys who planted the bomb that killed him, and anyone that he was asked to kill by Uncle Sam. They’ll shake hands, learn each other’s languages, music, and stories, discover the world through each others eyes, and walk together toward Isaiah’s vision. A world that is at rest, and quiet, and spontaneously breaks forth into song.
*The Greek word for tomb (mnemion) literally means memory device, and comes directly from the Greek word for memory itself. When Jesus said that all in the tombs will come forth, he meant more than literal graves, because many or most people who have died are not in graves at all. They have died at sea, or in holocausts or tsunamis or earthquakes or wars that took them away without a trace. But all who died reside in the memory of God. Their unique personality, memories, and character have been recorded.