When most of us think of Woody Allen we think of a comedian whose nerdy, self-deprecating and more or less neurotic character has entertained us on the stage and in many movies in which he has both starred and directed. What many people don’t know is that the real Woody Allen is a man tortured about the meaning of life and death. He believes that “to live is to suffer” in large part because there is no real meaning to life in a universe where randomness is the rule and death is the end. For him, there are no happy endings. It’s not that he can’t find pleasure in individual moments, but they don’t really mean anything or add up to anything. “You have a meal, or you listen to a piece of music and it’s a pleasurable thing,” he says, “but it doesn’t accrue to anything.” He says that the indifference of the universe has obsessed him since he was a child. When he was 5 years old he became aware of death and that was the beginning of his gloominess. When asked why bother going on if it’s all meaningless and death is the end, he responds, “I can’t really come up with a good argument to choose life over death except that I’m too scared to die.” Making films and being successful at his career offers him no reward beyond distracting him from his plight. “As you get older your perception of time changes because you see how brief everything is. You see how meaningless this little flicker is.” It is no secret that Woody Allen is an atheist. And for those who do not believe in God, his philosophy of life is understandable. Not all atheists necessarily are as joyless as he is, but ultimately they have no choice but to view reality the same way. Sometimes it is good for us to reflect on what life would mean for us if we did not believe in a loving Father who stands behind all the beauty and good in the universe and if we did not believe that Christ has won eternal life for us. All the good we experience now is only a fore-taste of what God has planned for us in heaven. That knowledge makes all the difference for us day by day.
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