A Thousand Words

When I was a Christian (many, many years ago), I was told (more than once) that “Scripture has Power!” It was “my sword and my shield” against a depraved world.

In essence (and briefly put), all I had to do was use words from the bible and sinners (those folk who don’t believe in supernatural beings) would acknowledge their evil ways, fall to their knees, and worship god.

Imagine my disappointment when it didn’t work. 😼!!

But of course it didn’t work! Like the old saying goes … “Sticks and stones may break my bones; but words will never hurt me.” (And especially not in the blogging world!)

Add to that the fact that “scripture” is taken from a book that came about simply because ancient people needed a way to understand the world. As such, its contents are based on events and beliefs that are several thousand years old and have long since been replaced by, oh what do they call it? Ahhh yes … Increased Knowledge and Understanding.

In other words, life has moved on and for many of us, it’s a bit difficult to get upset and concerned about myths and legends that were used many centuries ago to explain how the world worked. Especially when they have been usurped by modern knowledge related to the world we live in today (e.g., science, mathematics, cosmology, medicine, engineering, etc.).

Yet, there are those who continue to rely on the contents of this book, believing that it contains eternal truths. Especially about death — and a potential afterlife.

What’s interesting about this “truth,” however, is that even the good book offers alternate stories on what happens at death. The Hebrew Bible talks about the afterlife as a shadowy place known as sheol (grave, pit, abyss) and all who died went there. There was no segregation between the righteous and the unrighteous. Over the centuries, however, this perspective changed little by little until the hereafter became a place of fire and brimstone for the bad guys … or a “heavenly abode” for the good guys. Hmmm. Wonder how that happened?

In any event, there will most likely always be a subset of humans who are certain there’s a “guy in the sky” who created this world and is watching over them as they go about their daily lives. And they will also remain convinced that the”holy words” of the bible have magic powers to convince the aforementioned sinners to change their evil ways.

What they fail to recognize/accept is not everyone believes in magic.

In my opinion, it’s (past) time for Christians to recognize that their literary and verbal wranglings are not going to accomplish what they desire. As Henrik Ibsen, a Norwegian playwright of the late 19th century, once said: A thousand words will not leave so deep an impression as one deed.     

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Image by Peggy und Marco Lachmann-Anke from Pixabay

Afterlife: True or False?

Courtesy of Stockvault.com
Courtesy of Stockvault.net

Did you watch the first episode of “The Story of God” with Morgan Freeman? For those who missed it, it was an exploration of what happens after we die.

Is there an afterlife? And if so, what is it like?

Morgan visited several countries and talked with priests, lamas, rabbis, swamis, and scientists. Each one offered their perspective about the afterlife — some of which I had never heard before.

I was especially intrigued when Morgan interviewed a man who talked about his Near Death Experience. I have to admit, it was a little disconcerting to hear how closely it matched Scottie’s experience.

According to a article promoting the program: In future episodes, [Freeman] will explore commonalities in creation myths and apocalyptic visions, what purpose is served by the concept of the devil, why we believe in miracles, and how the perception of God has changed over the centuries.

I can hardly wait!

Death, Dying, and So On

final-curtain
Recently, “Mak” wrote a post related to immortality, which generated a number of comments. A recent post by +Charles, although initially on another topic, migrated to the topic of death and dying.

Since our ultimate end seems to be the subject du jour, I decided to add my two cents and write a post on that final(?) destiny of all humans.

First, a quote by Mark Twain (Thanks, Victoria):

“I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it.”

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Wikipedia defines death as: “the termination of all biological functions that sustain a living organism.”  If we are logically-minded, I think most of us would agree with this description of our demise. (There is, however, a certain segment of our society that disagrees and are certain they will live on in some type of fairy tale land. As many of us were once a member of this group, we may sometimes find ourselves wavering as we consider the finality of death.)

Since death is not a very pleasant way for our existence to end, some have considered other “alternatives.” One of these is cryonics suspension —  full-body cryo-preservation of humans (and pets), DNA, & tissue storage in hopes future medical technology may be able to someday revive and restore them to full health.

There is also an organization that believes there is a way to “delay” death since dying is a process, not an event, and by intercepting and/or stopping this process within a certain window of time, it may be possible to reverse the process.

Others like the idea of reincarnation; that is, the reappearance of a person in another form. In fact, it’s been said reincarnation offers one of the most attractive explanations of humanity’s destiny. To know you have lived many lives before this one … and that there are many more to come … is a very attractive perspective to some people.

For sure, the end of LIFE is certainly not something any of us look forward to. At least not while we’re young and in good health. Yet, it is a certainty that none of us can escape.

Additional thoughts that go along with the end of life revolve around how we want our body disposed of. Burial? Cremation? Resomation? Plastination? Eternal Reefs? Promession? What would be your choice?

Finally, I think there is one thing that lurks in the back of nearly everyone’s mind — the existence of an afterlife. Some will vehemently deny they have any thoughts of such a possibility. But how can we be sure there isn’t “something more?” It has been a teaching for hundreds and hundreds of years within many cultures. And, of course, it is the core doctrine of Christianity.

What do you think? Does the curtain close at our death? Or will we “live on” in some sort of netherworld? Or perhaps the energy of which we are made simply disperses and becomes, once again, a part of the universe?

Or do you agree with Mr. Twain?

 

Life … and Death

This is an excerpt of a comment I made on another blog. I felt it needed repeating here.

I think the primary reason behind why nearly every Christian believes in God/Jesus is because it’s just too difficult for some people to live in this world on their own. Rather than rely on their own natural-born source of power, they must turn to an invisible “supernatural” being to help them handle life.

The thing is 
 this “being” is really all in their mind. And if they could/would just recognize and accept that, they might discover the pure joy of living and being part of this magnificent universe 
 no strings attached.

In addition to those who are unable to face life on their own, many find death even more fearful and must seek solace in an imaginary afterlife.

Certainly, none of us know what’s happens at life’s end, but why does it matter? Why is it so difficult to accept that this is the only life we have? We didn’t know anything before we were born … why must it be different when we die?

Afterlife Insurance

In a recent conversation with a friend, we got on the subject of religion. He commented that his parents attend church every Sunday (except for occasional sleep-ins), but he’s never heard them talk about God or Jesus, nor do they read their bible, say ‘grace,’ or demonstrate any other spiritual behavior. He wondered aloud why they even bother going.

I would venture to say this describes a large percentage of church-goers. They wouldn’t miss a Sunday service, yet any thought about God is absent from their lives the rest of the week 
 UNLESS they experience some type of situation where they want/need God to step in. Then prayer and supplication enter the picture. (Oh God! Please help!)

But praying to God doesn’t require church attendance, so what’s going on?

In my opinion, it has to do with the underlying concern (fear?) about what happens after one dies. Christianityafterlife.jpg has long taught there are only two things that can take place (possibly three if you’re Catholic) 
 you either go to heaven or you end up in hell.

Because hell has gained such an infamous reputation over the centuries, most people want to make sure they have plenty of “Afterlife Insurance” to guarantee them a spot in heaven. Church attendance helps make the payments.

It’s rather sad that Christianity has indoctrinated people with so much fear about what happens after death. Instead of living for and enjoying the present moment, they feel pressed to perform certain actions, rituals, and sacrifices to satisfy what they believe are God’s requirements for a ‘heavenly afterlife.’

The undeniable truth is we don’t KNOW what will happen when we die. And after-death experiences are not de facto proof of anything. So why not focus on today and let tomorrow take care of itself? (Even Jesus taught this.)