Hello again, Jason son of Joseph: As someone admittedly saddled with a longtime morbid interest in what happens after the final curtain, I was taken aback by some of your related comments. (He Giveth and He Taketh Away: STAR, September 8, 2012). While your references to alleged “deathbed conversions” were often quite hilarious, I feel compelled to remind you that there’s really nothing funny about dying—at any age—especially not to the soon-to-be-dearly-departed and caring kin!
Yes, yes, I know there are some who can hardly wait their turn to bail out of this vale of tears, to hop off the bus ahead of time, so to speak. But then suicide involves a peculiar madness that knows but one fear: life. The rest of us want to live on forever, however miserably. Which immediately begs the question: Why on earth are we so fearful of dying?
You may well agree, Jason, if I say nobody knows for sure. Nevertheless, I suspect we’d both be closer to the correct answer if we should say our unshakable discomfort centers on our fear of the unknown. I’ve often wondered if we’d remain fearful of what none of us can possibly know while still alive and kicking and capable of feeling fear, were it not for our notions of heaven and hell, implanted in our psyches when most of us were in no position to resist. We’ll never know.
Or will we? Is there a human among us who has never contemplated the possibility of another existence somewhere outside this realm, in whatever form? Deny it if you wish, Jason Joseph, I know and you know it is extremely difficult for someone who has been subjected to even a modicum of religious brainwashing, let alone a lifetime of it, to shake off the shackles that somehow bind us to a world inhabited only by spirits—never mind that none of us has a clue what a spirit might look like—unless of course we happen to believe in hydra-headed boloms and made-in-Hollywood ghosts.
For all the years I’ve happily devoted to reading and listening to what believers and non-believers believe, still I have not been able to make up my own mind on the subject. (Neither have you, deep down, dear reader—admit it if only to yourself!) As sad a prospect as it is to contemplate leaving behind those we most love and who have always loved us back, it’s a safe bet that if we only we could be certain of any kind of reunion the majority of us would have a far less depressing attitude to departure time. This world is no bed of roses, anyway. Not with things as they are and programmed to be much worse before the next New Beginning!
Let us play: Imagine waking up in a previously unimagined new dimension to be welcomed and embraced by a serenely smiling party comprising all our dearly departed, all of whom had been (I almost said dying) waiting trillions of years to connect and reconnect. The sheer horror of it—Tweety Bird being welcomed to Cartoon Heaven by countless well-intentioned over-excited Puddy Tats.
Such are the limitations of the human mind that on the occasion I am forced to rely for inspiration on friends of Jessica Rabbit. But then I imagine that up there, where all things are possible, wherever there might be, their best brains must by now have finessed the welcoming process so that not a single feather in an angel’s wings is ever ruffled!
But even while the above reads like the imaginings of a childish mind (is it really more farfetched than the opening lines of Genesis?), who’s to say for certain my seemingly sophomoric ramblings are not inspired words of wisdom, not my own conscious creation? (Yes, yes, the mind boggles!) But to return to our celestial welcoming party of billions and billions and billions (to recall Carl Sagan).
The earlier conjured fairytale scenario would perforce also include among the welcoming party folks we had despised when they were alive and making our own lives a misery. Besides, there are the other currently unanswerable ponderables: How old will be the body you present to the welcoming-party huggers in the new dimension? Will it be as broken and sick and bullet-ridden as the one you took aboard Rambally’s taxi? Will it be the sweet-scented innocent body your mama delivered at some long forgotten maternity ward? Or will our imagined get-together be a love-and-happiness meeting of souls? How do souls recognize each other, anyway?
I’m not one for meditating, Jason, despite obviously given to dreaming impossible dreams. However, often I find myself staring at the miracle that is a Saint Lucian seascape and almost subconsciously wondering: Who could have been responsible for this? My answer to my question usually is: What does it matter? But then a whole lot of new questions spring up like a tsunami in my mind. For instance: What if the creator of these wonders we take for granted is anything like the God of Moses? What if the creator of all things great and small turns out to be irreversibly unforgiving of those whose reasonable minds never permitted them to believe stories that, well, simply make no sense—except to believers in miracles, who require no proof of their claims, who daily finger evidence of things not seen?
Jason, I think I read somewhere that you consider us craven cowards who lack the fortitude to say what we truly believe: that there is no God. At any rate, as depicted in the Scriptures. But can any of us say with conviction we know God exists? Or does not exist? Would it not be more truthful to say we really don’t know? Which raises still another question: What if the God of Moses is equally unforgiving of those who, no matter how they tried, could not bring themselves to believe what by any human measure is absolutely unbelievable?
What if I accept as true the documented history of Jesus but cannot make myself believe an unmarried 15-year-old, who remained a virgin right up to moment she was lifted bodily into heaven, had miraculously conceived him? Will it be enough just to believe Jesus inhabited this world for some 30 years and never once committed an act displeasing to the God of Moses? Would it be enough to get an otherwise sinful doubter through the pearly gates? And what if unimaginable fear should move an atheist on his deathbed to repent and accept God as his lord and savior? But already you’ve made it clear in your last dispatch that late converts need not apply for resident status in your heaven.
Thank God you’re not God, Jason son of Joseph!