For those who don’t know, Anthony Bourdain was an author and a TV host who dealt with food as cultural harmony, food as empathy and unity. He traveled about the world introducing us to different cultures, different ways of life, and presented our commonality as humans. We all eat, right?
I enjoyed Anthony Bourdain’s work and often saw the connection, the relationship, the profound concept behind the Lord’s invitation to His table, communion, our spiritual connection that takes place when we sit down as saints together. Anthony really helped me to value and appreciate the gift Jesus gave us in the last supper, the ritual, the significance, the way He knew that even thousands of years later His people would be partaking in a meal together in remembrance of Him. Communion is so much more than “a meal,” and bread is not just “bread,” but I do so love how those common symbols were given to us in such beautiful and profound simplicity.
Sadly, Anthony Bourdain killed himself at 61 years old, in the height of his success, wealth, and fame. Near as I can tell, he never really reconciled his own relationship with the Lord. He once said he had Catholic DNA and the paperwork to prove it, but no interest in ever taking it any farther.
I’m going to respond to some things flowing through my Twitter feed and I don’t wish to annoy anyone, but they must be said. Anthony’s suicide was NOT “brave.” He completely abandoned an 11 yr old girl who really needed him and stamped her with trauma that will likely take a lifetime to free herself of.
Anthony was also NOT suffering from “mental health issues.” Spiritual health issues perhaps, but not mental health issues. We people in modern culture seem to like to just layer deception upon deception and then act as if we are just the innocent victims of some invisible boogeyman, like “mental health problems.” I’m not trying to be unkind here, but Anthony poured everything he could into the abyss of his soul, including drugs and alcohol. I am not sure why we as a culture don’t seem to grasp the fact that when we ingest massive amounts of a mood altering substances, our mood is going to be altered and our mental health is going to suffer.
Why have suicide rates increased by some 28% in the last decade or so? Because we also happen to be having an astounding opioid and addiction epidemic, an epidemic the likes of which have not been seen since the flu pandemic of 1918. For some perspective here, that pandemic afflicted one-third of the world’s population. It was one of the deadliest natural disasters in human history, killing millions of people.
Nearly all suicides of the rich and famous, the iconic and popular, involve drugs and alcohol, addiction issues. Bourdain’s death is not a surprise, not a “great shock,” it is predictable, it has a cause and effect, albeit an invisible one no one really ever seems to want to talk about. Anthony poured whatever he could into the abyss of his soul and it killed him.
Anthony is also not “at peace among the stars.” It’s a lovely platitude and I have no idea where he is right now, I am just saying there is no, “place of peace among the stars,” this vague grey area of limbo where people can die and just go off gently to trip the light fantastic among the stars.
I don’t mean to sound harsh here or devoid of empathy, it is just that deception and lies kill real, actual people. They are deadly lies. We deny the truth of addiction, portray ourselves as victims of our own mental health, deny the spiritual hunger people have for their Creator, call suicide “brave,” tweet out that someone is now “at peace among the stars,” and then act surprised and shocked by people choosing death?
Addiction and suicide are being romanticized and portrayed as, “a brave path to the peace of the stars.” Let me say right now, suicide is NOT brave. It is permanent solution to the temporary inability to cope with one’s own pain. Suicide is also selfishness, it leaves behind real victims and creates a lifetime of wounds, like the ones that 11 yr old child is experiencing right now.
Anthony Bourdain was an incredibly talented and gifted man, richly blessed with opportunity and reward, blessed with good health and money, but so spiritually impoverished that he eventually took his own life.
If he wasn’t at peace in this world, than there is no reason to believe he is now, “at peace among the stars,” either.
Faith matters in this life, faith teaches you to take your eyes off your own pain and to look up. It teaches you how to look about and see the needs of others and your obligation to them. It teaches you about the kind of courage required to bravely face your own pain, to set it down at the foot of the cross, and to sacrificially love those around you.