Flagrant Flowers, Variants and the Tragedy of A Suicide

Is anyone else not surprised? The United States Supreme Court – stacked with six purportedly conservative appointees – recently refused to hear the case of Baronnelle Stutzman, a Washington, D.C. florist who in turn refused to make a make a flower arrangement with a pro-homosexual-wedding message. This seems a classic free-speech issue that needs desperately to be decided, hopefully in a rational direction – that no one should be forced to print/say/shout/declare anything they deem to be untrue and fundamentally against their basic principles – freedom of speech also includes the freedom not to speak, and not to state what one believes to be false.

Were the justices fearful to take a case so against the modern zeitgeist of bending the knee to the LGBTQ agenda? Do they have a broader agenda, and are they biding their time? Or is it that the justices are trying to move government and legislation back to where it belongs, with the people and their representatives? After all, as Mark Steyn put it, a republic governed by justices is a contradiction in terms. Whatever the case, the practical reality is that the Supreme Court left the Christian florist flailing in the wind, and the rest of us with her, for we are all at the mercy of capricious judges, interpreting, applying and even making things up as they see fit. We should recall that law either supports the natural moral law – including freedom of speech and expression – or it is a type of coercive violence, as Saint Thomas pithily puts it. We need a good dose of reason, order and balance restored here.

Joe Biden is sending out government agents door-to-door in America, to ask people whether they have been vaccinated, and, if not, why. Their justification is the ‘delta variant’ of Covid, to be followed by the ‘lambda’ – and there are twenty-or-so more Greek letters from which to choose, none of them so far lethal to the vast majority of the population. I still wonder what’s so wrong with good old natural immunity. As might be expected, Joe’s coercive policy is causing a backlash, with legislators – see above – proposing to brand such nosy-parkers ‘trespassers’, to be dealt with accordingly. One wonders how far either side will go.

And this take on the tragedy of Anthony Bourdain is perhaps the most insightful personal analysis I have ever read of a suicide. Mr. Bourdain was a world-traveling chef extraordinaire, whose hedonistic epicureanism finally caught up to him, it seems, as he sought the exuberant ecstasies of his drug-fueled salad days. Food and sex – which Saint Thomas rightly states are the greatest bodily joys, as necessary to maintain the individual and species – when taken out of context, become the most disordered.

Seeking such pleasures for their own sake is certainly ‘taking them out of context’. Anthony Bourdain ‘had it all’, but what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Pleasure, even of the refined variety, is in the end an empty thing – vanity of vanities, as the Preacher lamented – and without a solid set of transcendent principles founded in truth to guide and contextualize our joys, and our sorrows, we are all doomed to despair. All sin is a kind of ‘suicide’, and there is a reason the Catechism describes hell as the ‘self-exclusion’ from God and the blessed.

Life is meant to be lived, and to the full, but in the paradox of Christ’s message, it is only by giving oneself, that we can find ourselves – and this can only be done within the constraints of the moral law, which are not in the end ‘constraining’, but liberating. The truth not only sets us free, it gives us strength and joy and a kind of eternal youth – that this life is not all there is, but a prelude to a far fuller and greater existence, if we but hope in God, and praise Him still. They say that Anthony Bourdain was very generous with this time, money, fame – but how can one really love others if he does not first love himself, and the God Who made him? We may hope that Bourdain found some inkling of this love in his final moments, as condemned murderer Jacques Fesch, the last person executed by guillotine, did in his final months. There is no time with God – only an eternal present of unending happiness, which He offers us, if we but say yes.

Domine Deus, miserere ei, et nobis. +