Jeremy Bentham, one of the pioneers in the field of political economy, was a member of the Board of Directors of one of London’s great hospitals, and gave a vast amount of time and interest to it.
After his death in 1832, it was discovered that he had bequeathed his rather considerable fortune to the hospital. He also stipulated that his skeleton, stripped of flesh and dressed in his well-worn business suit, should be mounted on a moveable platform and rolled up to the head of the director’s table whenever the Board met.
To complete the display, a death mask on top of which was his old hat, crowned his skeleton.
For more than one hundred years, the secretary of the Board added these words to the minutes of every meeting: “Jeremy Bentham: present but not voting”
Every Easter Day, there is a danger: we listen again to the Gospel narrative of resurrection and rightly we wonder at the miracle. But, so often many of us leave it at that. We don’t often notice how it pertains practically to us and our personal and contemporary situation.
It’s so often almost a case of “Christ present, but not voting” insofar as we feel that he isn’t there for us in our personal life – not guiding us, challenging or directing us here and now.
Christ present, but not energising us for new life in the world.
But because of Easter, we are given a new insight into ourselves, what we are and what we can become.
Eternal life begins now – not when we die. Eternal life means an eternal quality of life now, as well as later.
It means a life lived in faith, a life lived in the promise, a life lived in the security of the knowledge of the love of God
Winston Churchill arranged his own funeral, so certain was he of the eternal dimension to life?
At his own direction, the great hymns of the Church were played and the beautiful liturgy of Cranmer’s Book of Common Prayer used. And then – and Churchill had planned this too – a lone bugler, located at the very top of the dome of St Paul’s began to play taps: the international signal for the ending of the day.
As the last note floated over the congregation, another bugler – also at Churchill’s direction – located directly across from the first bugler, began to play reveille.
the stirring strains of new life, life lived in resurrection glory – here and hereafter
You can still see what is left of old Jeremy Bentham, sitting upright, at University College, London. – not a pretty or inspiring sight! “Jeremy Bentham present, but not voting”
What a contrast to the One present forever and voting a better, deeper, broader, higher and wider life for us all – here and now and always!
Jeremy Bentham – still in the closet