Saturday, June 30, 2007


Today we had a funeral for a parishioner who is also the mother of a friend. It brings a lot of things to my mind because it's also the birth and death day of our only daughter thirteen years ago – she lived just a few minutes.

Which makes death a theme for the day.

Don't know if you've ever thought about it much but it's there – and it never goes away. Whether you're religious or not, you will die. And you'll probably pay taxes, but that's a different story.

For most of us who belong to faiths that espouse an afterlife, this death is not a bad thing, but that wasn't always the case. There have been many religions where death is considered horrible, frightening for all but the select few because it consists of eternal suffering. Let me tell you, if that was the religious background I came from, I'd be looking at the atheists with envy.

Atheists, of course, just believe there's nothing after death. The show simply ends. That would explain a desperate desire to cling to life by any means necessary. This is your one shot, and if you lose here, then what is there?

Thank goodness for me, I believe along with my church that God exists, that God loves us unconditionally, and that God prepares a place for us (whatever THAT might mean) where we can live eternally in some measure of joy. Really, it probably means simply being in the presence of God, which is all the joy I think I need.

Is this deluded thinking? Well, no more than any other conception of the afterlife. Only, I know folks who have been to the other side temporarily, and they all claim it is wonderful. And yet, and yet, and yet … None of us will truly know until we go there ourselves.

So, I don't worry about it. I figure I'm happy with the way I understand God's role in eternal life – at least as happy as those who believe there's nothing, and much happier than those who only have suffering to look forward to. It's just that I don't have to cling to this life, I don't have to get in all the gusto right here right now, and I don't have to step on other people to ensure my survival. [NOTE: I don't believe all atheists are that type of unethical – in fact, many are highly moral and loving people. I just suspect letting go of the things in this life, including life itself, may be easier and more peaceful for a person unafraid of what happens next.]

Of course, you could rightly ask yourself, why are so many Christians afraid of death? The answer? Well, that's a subject for another day.