EPISODE 24

Stoicism, anyone?

Well, I think there’s something to it, in the light of selfishness and sorrow, which is to say that stoicism — which is just a term, from Classical Antiquity — acknowledges the tenacious changelessness of the human world, and poses the question,

What can we do?

Given the impasses of temperament and the impasse of the social order — things aren’t changing, from millennium to millennium — what’s a person to do? If there is nothing we can do, then what ought we to do?

There’s a memorable expression of stoicism in the long inner dialogue within the mind of ‘Colonel Ross’ toward the end of Guard of Honor. I try to unpack this speech in today’s podcast.  Note the pervasive Biblical imagery. But is Colonel Ross right, at the end of the day?  Or rather, is this the whole loaf of a realistic response to life’s transiency, and fretfulness and fruitlessness?
As a Christian, I don’t think so.
But then we go to that ‘final’ stoic, the Arthur Winner, Jr. of the miraculous conclusion to By Love Possessed. Arthur Winner gets confronted with the truth not only of life in general, but himself in particular. The ‘mirror up to nature’ is what the novelist places in front of his character. The compassionate strategist and understander Arthur Winner is left in the lurch. He has to find a solution then. Without a solution, only suicide will ‘work’.

Let’s talk about the given (not achieved) stoicism of Arthur Winner’s drowning answer. It’s close to telling the full story of life. And if you look carefully at the justly celebrated final sentence of that book, there’s a little light, real light, this little light of mine, The Light That Has Lighted The World.

To listen, click here.