“Why will you die, O Israel?” (Ezekiel 33:11)
A young drug addict, with half of his skull blown away in a drug deal, was delivered to the emergency room where one of my students worked as a nurse. The doctor pronounced the man dead and the mother, with relief, readily signed the organ donation papers.
My student took the body to prepare it for organ harvest. As he went about his work, he noticed the corpse wink. He called the doctor to come take another look. The doctor checked and concluded it was just involuntary movement – the man was dead.
The nurse returned to his work. The corpse winked again. At this, the nurse said, “if you can hear me, hold up your thumb.” The dead man gave the thumbs up.
To the mother’s disappointment, the doctor had a change of heart and admitted the man to the hospital. They bandaged his head and eventually he improved enough to be released – the chunk of skull still missing. The doctors intended to reconstruct that later.
Before long, the man returned to the emergency room. As soon as he was able, he had attended a drug party where he let others “feel his brain” and contracted a brain infection that killed him.
There is no explaining sin — its roots go deeper than reason. Reason follows desire. Like Augustine’s youthful pear-stealing gang, we sin for pure love of sinning. As C.S. Lewis says, God “shouts at us in our pain.” Why not listen?
“Oh make thyself with holy morning black,
and red with blushing, as thou art with sin;
or wash thee in Christ’s blood which has this might
That being red, it dyes red souls to white.” (Donne, O My Black Soul)