27 December 2011

On the Deaths of Heroes

I'm reminded of an old song from my days in the Cayman Islands. "Where Are Your Heroes, Caribbean?" is a song that laments the lack of statues and other memories of genuine heroic men and women of that region. 

Other nations and regions have little problem with erecting monuments to military and political figures. I have written, on my old blog, of the appropriateness of memorials (that essay found here). 

Why am I pondering these things, one might ask. Well, three immense personalities have died in the past few weeks. Vaclav Havel, first President of a free Czechoslovakia; Christopher Hitchens, noted atheist and philosopher; and Kim Jong Il, despotic ruler of North Korea each died within three days of one another.
Kim already has monuments in the form both statutes and schools named after him. Hitchens probably will not have any statues, but he has left behind a legacy in his books, including a bestseller from 2007 titled God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything.

Havel will, no doubt, have many memorials erected in his name. There is already a proposal to re-name the international airport in Prague in his honor. Havel is certainly worthy of such honors. As an anti-Soviet dissident, he helped to bring about the demise of the Communist hegemony over his entire region. He was loved by the people, elected President of the emerging nation of Czechoslovakia, then of the Czech Republic after the departure of Slovakia to independency. 

Thousands upon thousands of people poured into Wenceslas Square, the scene of many historical events, to pay homage to the great political and moral leader.
Alas, we have to ask, what's up now with these three late, great men? Kim and Hitchens often declared themselves to be atheists. They've now found out the truth about the God they denied.
Vaclav, Thank you.
Vaclav Havel, however, did have a belief in God. It was, however, not the God of the Bible. He saw God as a transcendance of some sort. While he saw Christianity as an antidote to Communism, he never fully grasped it himself. His concept of "self-transcendence" can be compared to the "spirituality" sought after by many Hollywood types. It's popular, it's trendy, it's Godless.

I hope that as he faced his last days Vaclav Havel fully comprehended and embraced the need for repentance and forgiveness. He was a great human leader. Czechs and citizens of the world are right to remember the sacrifices and the leadership of Vaclav Havel. Human greatness, however, does not buy a ticket to heaven. For that, the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ is necessary.

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