Thursday, June 11, 2015


About closure


It is that time again: The end of a school year, the end of a business cycle, or the end of the day. Everything, at some point ends.

But the world has changed. It has become more complex, and with that complexity our concept of time has changed. Rarely does one event end before another begins. Rarely then, is closure experienced.

Some people seem to embrace this openendness, they thrive in the post-modern universe where nothing really ends or begins, but merely changes forms and conditions. This, they state is the new dynamic. Absolute certainty is impossible, and further, not even desired. In this paradigm religion is viewed as an anachronism—a homage to an earlier, simpler time. Science, with its inherent contradictions becomes the new source of knowledge.

Yet things still end. The school year comes to a close. For those who have reached the high end of school, a graduation ceremony announces to all that they have succeeded--that they can close that phase of their life. Likewise, those participating in sports recognize that there is a definite season for them to compete. If they are successful, they will be the last one standing at the end of that season—they would then have found closure, at least until the sport begins again.

However these events are not  really the end. Even if one has earned a doctorate, they can continue on with additional studies. Similarly, even if one wins the Super Bowl or the Stanley Cup, and becomes regarded as the champion, there is always the following sport season looming ahead. The cycle continues. Life time learners and life time athletes resist closure. But for others, those on a more ordinary path, things do tend to have an ending. They find, at least temporarily closure.

Yet there is one final closure that awaits everyone—death. With it there is no “next season”. Like a graduation ceremony, a funeral gives notice that one has succeeded in finding closure. Both observances announce to all that a life stage has ended.

Thus, despite the relativistic conclusion that nothing is final, all things come to an end. Science, with its open-ended approach has met that thing from which nothing goes beyond. Death, like a brick wall sealing off an escape tunnel, tells us that we can go no farther—at least in this mode.

There is a geography concerning closure, as it exists within a specific time and place. Graduation ceremonies occur at a predetermined times. The Super Bowl is played at the beginning of February, and the Stanley Cup makes it appearance in early June.

 It is basically the same with death. It occurs at a specific time and place—although usually the precise moment remains unknowable. That becomes problematic. Because death appears at random, and is so final, it brings out an anxiety that other events simply can’t.

Death brings about closure. There is no escaping it.

Usually a ceremony accompanies closure. The graduate wants to celebrate, reflect and fellowship with family and friends. Inversely, friends and family  of the deceased desire a ceremony  so that they can celebrate, reflect and support each other through fellowship. These ceremonies provide meaning. So,  on the same day that students march across a stage dressed in academic regalia to receive a diploma, pallbearers dressed in formal attire, march a deceased person into a chapel to receive a final blessing.

Closure puts things into context, it brings forth meaning. The response to closure does not appear to be based within science, but rather within religion.  With these ultimate experiences of life, meaning is sought. Here is the place at which religion can interconnect with those who are seeking. For it is through religious belief that the brick wall of death is overcome. Faith in God then becomes the antidote for the anxiety caused by both  open-endedness and closure.