Pensees: French Daniel, Brussels, Lahore and WH Auden

My French friend Daniel Szabo wrote this yesterday. Daniel has written here before.  He lives in the south of France, loves Jesus, writes novels, teaches English Literature, and the term “joie de vivre” was invented for him.

In the midst of the chaos of the world, he penned these thoughts:

The horror. The horror. Anywhere. Anytime. On Tuesday I studied with my students a poem by WH Auden called ‘Musée des Beaux Arts’; he had written it after his visit of the museum in Brussels in 1940. Yes, I studied that poem only a few hours after the Brussels terrorist attacks. And what does the poem say? “About suffering they were never wrong, The old Masters… how it takes place while someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along…” How ironic!

A few days later as I hear about what happened in Pakistan (60 Christians killed in a park as they were celebrating Easter), I am moved once again by the horror. What is this horror? It is the horror of our human world. Our humanity. My horror. It is so easy to see the others as the monsters and forget that I too am a monster. Jesus died on the cross for the people who died in Paris. Jesus died on the cross for the people who died in Nigeria. Jesus died on the cross for the people who died in Brussels, in Lahore, in New York… Jesus died on the cross for those who committed these atrocities. And he died on the cross for me.

What the poem says is that life always goes on despite the horror, despite man’s suffering. But what most critics fail to realise is that this poem was written not long after Auden converted to Christianity and in the heart of the poem he mentions a miraculous birth and that in the same way as we look away from suffering in order to keep on living and to calmly sail on we also look away from Christ’s birth, death on the cross and resurrection.

Why? Because our hearts are not pure. Why? Because it’s simply easier to look away than to look at the horror and realise that we can’t do it by ourselves. We can’t save ourselves. More, we can’t save ourselves from our selves. My heart cries for all those Christians persecuted and executed around the world for their faith in the living Christ. But you know what? If they put their hope in the living Christ (oh yes, by the way it’s Easter, some of us believe he is risen, he is risen indeed), I repeat: if they put their hope in the living Christ, they are alive for eternity and although we can be sad, we can also rejoice because we know where they are.

It seems strange but my heart grieves even more for all those who don’t know Christ. Let’s not look away. Let’s look at the horror and let’s deal with it. And despite the horror let’s remember that he is risen, he is risen indeed. (Il est ressuscité, vraiment ressuscité). I don’t know any other way to look at it.


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