Dying in Full Command of one’s Senses

Thursday, 01 February 2018


From 1900 to 2100

Medico-Chirurgical Hall

Very Rev Professor Sir Iain Torrance, Pro-Chancellor of the University, Dean of the Chapel Royal & Dean of the Order of the Thistle of Aberdeen

Professor Sir Ian Torrance was born in Aberdeen and is a graduate of Edinburgh, St Andrews and Oxford.  He is a minister of the Church of Scotland who served initially in Northmavine, Shetland.  He subsequently taught in Birmingham then returned to Aberdeen’s University Department of Divinity in 1993.  He was Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Divinity before his election as Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in 2003.  He served as President of Princeton Theological Seminary in New Jersey until December 2012.  Since 2013 he has been Dean of the Chapel Royal in Scotland and Pro-Chancellor of the University and from 2014 Dean of the Order of the Thistle.  He was recently knighted for services to higher education and theology.

The talk will reflect the speaker’s interest in The Ethics in Everyday Life published by Michael Banner in 2014.  The exemplary value ascribed to Christ’s death has led to Christians striving to imitate it in as much as they have tried to be active rather than passive in death.  The implication that Christian’s must aspire to die in a state of grace produced anxieties.  The strands of the “pro-choice” and the “palliative care people” surprisingly overlap as the major concern of both is to have a death in full command of one’s senses.  Michael Banner goes on to say that for many people today death is not at all being in command of one’s senses but what he elegantly calls “dwindling”.  The objectives are to set Banner’s view in a traditional context, to provide some understanding of the spiritual peace sought by Christian’s at death and to illustrate even simple ways in which that anxiety can be alleviated.

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