Over the last few weeks, Lawrence Auster has posted good will messages to him in response to his terminal illness and approaching death. I wrote a brief and insufficient memorial post for Auster a few weeks ago, and the master of View from the Right decided to publish two of my letters, including the following:
I read the well-wishes down to B.E.’s, and, somewhat overcome, I started the following message to you:
“I especially appreciate your commentator Zeno’s description of you as our Montaigne. However, as I went through the sincere and thoughtful farewells of so many fellow wayfarers, it occurred to me that I was in the middle of the Phaedo, where the disciples mourn the imminent departure of their friend and teacher, Socrates, while he gives his last lesson. Our hero demonstrates in word and in deed what it means to be a man—to be rational, to be destined for the transcendent. The dialogue is a tremendously powerful work, and it reverberates across the generations in many ways, it seems.”
Then, given the situation and the shared perspectives of your readers, I judged that I should do a search in the thread for a mention of Plato’s work wherein philosophy functions as a preparation for death—and for eternity. Sure enough, another reader brought it up. Nonetheless, I am sending you my original remark. Thank you, again.
Even at this stage in his sickness, Auster continues to bless his readers. Yesterday, Auster offered a beautiful account of what he expects after death in “The afterlife and Christ.” He apologizes in the comment thread for his poor Christian formation and theological ignorance, along with this remark that echoes my own attitude perfectly:
Another sign of my poor Christian formation is that I’ve never been particularly concerned about whether I personally am saved, about whether I have the formal or determined status of being saved, which seems to be the primary, even exclusive, concern of Protestants starting with Luther. I feel the purpose of life is to be with and follow God, and that is the direction in which we try to grow. The rest—whether we are fulfilled—we leave up to God.
Auster need not have apologized or attributed his disinterest in “personal salvation” to improper formation. I have always found the Western need for salvific formulae and the obsession with surety repellant—even before I knew of alternative paths. The attitude betrays self absorption and a lack of trust in God’s goodness. We should do what we should do; we may leave further considerations to the Lord.