Can a picture of death grace the cover of anything?
Can a picture of death grace the cover of anything? The latest Newsweek magazine (January 12, 2009) ran two two-page spreads back to back before the title page of its cover story on the war between Israel and the Hamas. Both spreads are pictures of death. Both innocent victims. In the first you gaze down as a worker gently lowers the body of four-year-old Lama Hardan, who’d been taking out the trash beside her home in Gaza “when an Israeli air raid struck.” Little Lama is wrapped in a yellow shroud up to her neck, her dark curly hair and peaceful, slumbering face belying the tragedy. In the second two-page spread mourners are gathered around a body shrouded by the flag of Israel. Irit Sheetrit, 39, from Ashdod was with her sister “driving home from the gym when a Hamas rocket hit.” Bent over her body is a sobbing man with tissue clutched in hand. Two portraits of death—and both can break your heart.
Because whether you’re four-years-old or thirty-nine or 85 . . . it doesn’t matter, does it? Death is the cold, heart-breaking reality every inhabitant of this planet must live with 24/7—victim or survivor. Obviously, you and I are still survivors. But our day will come, too. Only there will be no two-page spread announcing our demise.
The fact is we live in a culture mesmerized by death. But movie plots, talking heads, late night comedians and MTV singers notwithstanding, nobody stares at our common mortal enemy long enough to find an answer. What happens when a child or a woman or a man dies? What does death feel like? Where does death lead? How can I live, how can I die without fearing death? Every religion on earth has struggled for the answers, but stunningly nearly every one of them has stumbled short of the truth.
But the truth can be discovered. That’s why I’d like to invite you to join me in a frank and candid, but hopefully hope-filled exploration (expose, perhaps, is too strong a word) of death. Right here at this website. For the next few weeks. Click on to a new twin miniseries, “The Truth about Death” and then “The Truth about Hell.” Please tell your friends about the podcasts, email the link to those who need to know. Because without the truth, fear is our default. And nothing buries hope faster than fear. Just ask the God who’s had to live and die himself.