Reflections on King Kong¬â„s seductress: Young Become Old. Old Die.

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Take a look at the two pictures.

On the right is one of the most memorable scenes in film history from King Kong. This 1933 film was a financial blockbuster, saving RKO, and this “sexually suggestive scene” launched the career of a sultry young seductress, actress Fay Wray, who died yesterday.

Now take a look at the picture on the right. In a photo taken in May 2004, you see a 96-year old woman making her final flight over NYC’s Empire State Building, the setting for her memorable “sexy” scene.

For the young, I show you this to help you grasp something few of us do at your stage of life. Every young person will become old, and every old person will die. “ Many things youth take so seriously–physical attractiveness, success in your career fade away as you grow old and gray.

Youth tend to be disinterested in the aged and resistant to aging and in a poem attributed to Shakespeare, “Crabbed Age and Youth, The Passionate Pilgrim,” he states the situation as follows:

CRABBƒË†D Age and Youth
Cannot live together:
Youth is full of pleasance,
Age is full of care;
Youth like summer morn,
Age like winter weather;
Youth like summer brave,
Age like winter bare.
Youth is full of sport,
Age’s breath is short;
Youth is nimble, Age is lame;
Youth is hot and bold,
Age is weak and cold;
Youth is wild, and Age is tame.

Age, I do abhor thee;
Youth, I do adore thee;
O, my Love, my Love is young!
Age, I do defy thee:
O, sweet shepherd, hie thee!
For methinks thou stay’st too long.

My first exposure to this poem was as a young man when I sang Ned Rorem’s art songs From an Unknown Past. I enjoyed singing it because it exalted the irrelevance of older people in general and my parents and other authority figures specifically. Now as an older man I see this situation as a tragic disruption of a God-intended mutual respect.

The apostle Paul recognized that the older are likely to despise youth and Paul tells young Timothy not to allow them to do that, and by inference tells us older types such an attitude is not acceptable.

The young are likely to be dismissive of the old, and so in our Christian tradition the young are commanded to honor parents, widows, elders and masters and to show special respect for those who have earned it through their life of obedience to God.

My generation must not despise yours and your generation must not dismiss ours.

One day you will be old, and like Fay Wray the brilliance of youth will give way to a frustrating feebleness it is inevitable. The aged are not discardable burdens on society, they are repositories of life experience to be mined for occasional nuggets of insight. The young should spend time with the old, listening, learning and loving. Our mutual love and respect provides comfort and the company of youth for the old, and the transference of wisdom from one generation to the next. The church that is not intergenerational is impoverished.

The other day I saw on old man at Lens Crafters. When I was young I would have seen an old man bent, unsteady gait, a tremor, straining at every task; Today I see a man once proud, confident and sure, a fast-tracker, one to watch, accomplisher of great things.

When I see an old man bent. I see me, I see you.

Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends, Dick Staub.

PS. And remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

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  • ‚©CRS Communications 7/13/04

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