Christmas 2016 (General)

by dhw, Saturday, December 24, 2016, 12:53 (270 days ago)

Even for us agnostics, Christmas is a great time simply for the pleasures of family reunions, contacting old friends, giving and receiving gifts. Sometimes I try to pen an ode to that effect, but this year I can’t do it because I find myself overflowing with conflicting emotions. I’ll share them with you because for me they illustrate the great ambivalence that surrounds most aspects of our lives.

It was between Christmas and the New Year three years ago that my wife – who had a terminal form of cancer – suffered two strokes, the second of which left her totally unconscious. She died on 8 January. (In an unforgettable gesture of friendship and empathy, David and his wife came to England from the States to attend her funeral.) The grief is as low as emotion can reach.

This year, my elder son and his wife are expecting twins at the beginning of January. They and my daughter live just an hour’s drive away, and so I shall be able to see the newborn babies almost as soon as they arrive. Of course there is always the fear that something might go wrong, but the anticipation outweighs the fear, and I recall as if it were yesterday the sheer joy of seeing my own children as newborn babes. The sense of love, excitement and wonderment is as high as emotion can reach.

That is what I mean by life’s ambivalence. And perhaps we can’t have the one side without the other. The murderous events going on all round us sometimes make it difficult for us to perceive any sort of balance, but a friend of mine has just emailed me to say how inspired she has been by her experiences among a group of refugees - she is so impressed by their spirit, and I am so impressed by her desire to help them. Negative and positive, terror and loving kindness, loss and gain, death and birth. It’s a very different kind of dualism from the one we’ve discussed in the past (mind and body), but it raises just as many questions. I guess the moral is to accept it, and embrace and practise all the positives so long as we are able to do so.

I shall be spending Christmas with the family, and so there will be a few days’ silence from me, but in the meantime I hope everyone will enjoy the festivities, plus good health and all the other positives that make us happy to be alive. I’ll also look forward to announcing some “glad tidings” in due course. I don’t expect to see two stars shining over Bristol, but if all goes well, there will be two down below in the maternity ward.

Christmas 2016

by David Turell @, Saturday, December 24, 2016, 18:49 (270 days ago) @ dhw

dhw: Even for us agnostics, Christmas is a great time simply for the pleasures of family reunions, contacting old friends, giving and receiving gifts. Sometimes I try to pen an ode to that effect, but this year I can’t do it because I find myself overflowing with conflicting emotions. I’ll share them with you because for me they illustrate the great ambivalence that surrounds most aspects of our lives.

It was between Christmas and the New Year three years ago that my wife – who had a terminal form of cancer – suffered two strokes, the second of which left her totally unconscious. She died on 8 January. (In an unforgettable gesture of friendship and empathy, David and his wife came to England from the States to attend her funeral.) The grief is as low as emotion can reach.

Susan I agree the pleasure was ours. We met wonderful people and at the same time could try to help support David at a terrible time of his life. By email I'd been through all of the medical struggles Lisbeth and he endured over a two-plus year period. During that terrible time we had worked on a book together that he had proposed to me as author and he as editor. I agreed and then found out how tough he is as editor, but I persevered and it was created while she was fighting her cancer and published before her death. We had to come to the funeral.

Susan and I plan, if ever on the way to somewhere European, we will stop in Taunton to renew our friendship personally. That is a requirement. In the meantime I do not plan to stop the theological battle, of course, in the friendliest of fashions.;-)

Christmas 2016

by dhw, Tuesday, December 27, 2016, 13:09 (267 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: It was between Christmas and the New Year three years ago that my wife – who had a terminal form of cancer – suffered two strokes, the second of which left her totally unconscious. She died on 8 January. (In an unforgettable gesture of friendship and empathy, David and his wife came to England from the States to attend her funeral.) The grief is as low as emotion can reach.

DAVID: ….During that terrible time we had worked on a book together that he had proposed to me as author and he as editor. I agreed and then found out how tough he is as editor, but I persevered and it was created while she was fighting her cancer and published before her death. We had to come to the funeral.
Susan and I plan, if ever on the way to somewhere European, we will stop in Taunton to renew our friendship personally. That is a requirement. In the meantime I do not plan to stop the theological battle, of course, in the friendliest of fashions
.

With regard to your book, I took it as a great compliment that you invited me to be your editor, but I hope you will agree that my “tough editing” was devoted solely to the cause of honing your own arguments, and never to imposing my own agnostic counters. In its final form, The Atheist Delusion seems to me to offer as powerful a case as one could muster in its quest to “arm the believer with accurate scientific information to counter the claims of atheism”. My objections, of course, are the subject matter of our battles on this forum, but the battles are indeed tempered by great affection and respect, and it would give me enormous pleasure if you and Susan were to return to Taunton to share the celebration of birth rather than the lamentation of death. But oh, make haste!

One Moment in Annihilation's Waste,
One Moment, of the Well of Life to taste -
The Stars are setting and the Caravan
Starts for the Dawn of Nothing - Oh, make haste!

(Edward Fitzgerald, The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám)

Christmas 2016

by BBella @, Saturday, December 24, 2016, 20:41 (270 days ago) @ dhw


I shall be spending Christmas with the family, and so there will be a few days’ silence from me, but in the meantime I hope everyone will enjoy the festivities, plus good health and all the other positives that make us happy to be alive. I’ll also look forward to announcing some “glad tidings” in due course. I don’t expect to see two stars shining over Bristol, but if all goes well, there will be two down below in the maternity ward.

Sending the best of wishes to you, dhw, and for all to go beautifully with your daughter and her two new little stars rising!

Also sending wishes for a wonderful holiday and New Year for all!


ps...writing on my new Chromebook - an early Christmas gift!

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