Dead Poets Are Dead Poets

I will confess, I’ve probably used this clip at some point during a youth event. Or at least if I haven’t I’ve approved as someone else has. Seize the day young people! It’s beautiful, or something like that. It’s also a lie.

That first stanza that is read out:

GATHER ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying:
And this same flower that smiles to-day
To-morrow will be dying.

What is Robin Williams’ character’s point about this poem? Seize the day! Make every moment count. Because you’re going to die. You’re going to buy it, so you want to make your lives extraordinary. That bit isn’t true. The Bible gives us the baffling book of Ecclesiastes just to make that point. If this life is all there is, if there is nothing else under the sun, then there’s no satisfaction, no fulfilment, and no real sense of achievement. It’s all dust and vapour and chasing after the wind. Seize the day? Screw the day! Do whatever you want with it. Seize it if you want. Waste it on the couch with Pro Evolution Soccer if you prefer. If you are nothing but worm food and tomorrow you might be dead, why do anything? It’s not like they’ll be meaning in it anyway, no-one will remember you in five hundred years anyway.

If there is a resurrection of the dead though. If Christ has died and risen again. If the Gospel has power to save people and to give lives meaning and given us power to seize the day. Well. That’s something different altogether. That’s a motivation to live for. That’s a reason to not sit on the couch. There’s power to live extraordinary lives.