He died without fear of God and without faith in God

JP: Worthwhile article by Albert Mohler. See additional comments below the quote.

Dying without God — The Absence of Belief at Life’s End

Journalist Franz-Olivier Giesbert spent untold hours with the late French President Francois Mitterand, and many of these hours were devoted to discussions about death. After serving two seven-year terms as the French President, Mitterand revealed that he had been fighting prostate cancer throughout his years in the Elysee Palace.

Born into a Roman Catholic family, Mitterand became an ardent agnostic. In Dying without God: Francois Mitterand’s Meditations on Living and Dying, Giesbert sheds considerable light on Mitterand’s understanding of what it meant to die without any belief in God.

Giesbert describes Mitterand as “a Nietzschean until his dying day.” He described himself as a mystic with the mind of a rationalist. He did not deny that form of transcendence might exist, but he described the idea that his spirit might survive his death as “embarrassing.” He was fond of paraphrasing Celine: “Eternity must be very long, especially toward the end.”

Mitterand lived by a moral code that matched his worldview. Giesbert described Mitterand’s hands as made to strangle men and to seduce women. At his funeral, his mistress and their daughter sat close to Mitterand’s wife and their children. As a Nietzchean, he was committed above all to the acquisition and retention of power.

In the end, he died, as he had lived, without God.

Mitterand’s secular view of life and death represented an entire generation of European intellectuals and political figures. Deeply committed to atheism, agnosticism, existentialism, or Marxism, these intellectuals simply left no place for God in their worldview. They died without fear of God and without faith in God.

Death forces the most significant questions of life. To consider death — particularly one’s own death — is to face the question of God, of the meaning of life, the question of life after death.


More on François Mitterrand

Mitterrand Chooses Grave

Mitterrand’s Grave

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