Friday, December 28, 2007

grief & religion & the sanctity of life

I find it interesting that Christians, who believe in everlasting life with Jesus in Heaven, are the ones who scream loudest when someone is taken off life support (think of that poor woman in Florida, Terri Schiavo), or dies an early death or is murdered or aborted or commits suicide, or in any way has their life cut short. They go on and on about the sanctity of all life. (But they eat meat and wear leather. . . not that I'm a vegan or anything; it's just a point to ponder.) But if this world is so horrible and full of sin and sinners and devil worshiping pagan heathens (like me), and Heaven is so great, you'd think they'd all be taking the cultist way out and killing themselves left and right to get to Heaven quicker. (Hmm, kind of like suicide bombing terrorists?)
You would think that atheists, who believe in no afterlife at all, would be terrified to die and to have anyone they loved die. Seeing someone you love go out like a candle flame, never again to exist in any form anywhere but your memory? That's terrifying, isn't it? So much more so than thinking your loved one will be in Heaven hanging out with Jesus and maybe growing a set of angel wings and hovering over you like a cosmic umbrella until you die and join him/her.
But the atheists I know don't fear death. Most of the pagans don't either--whether they believe in reincarnation or home or the Elsewhere Bar (see my Alzheimer's blog for more on that)--whatever happens will happen, right? And probably it won't be bad.
I think, secretly, all these militant bible-thumpers are terrified of going to hell. I am not afraid of hell because I understand that hell and the christian devil were invented by man, not god. There is no red guy with horns and a pitchfork and cloven hooves waiting to burn me forever in a vat of fire. But the bible-thumpers believe that there is, and if they believe that, they can worry that they will end up there. And thus they have to be afraid that others they care about might end up there too, and therefore they have to fight for every scrap of life, no matter how degraded it is (I'm thinking of my father's final weeks in his own private hell of 104 fevers and organ failure and ongoing brain damage)--surely it must be better to them for someone to be trapped in a defective body, in pain, than to be burned forever?
I just can't think that way. Thank the gods.
Yes, I am sad that my dad died because he's not with me anymore. I can't hear his stupid jokes or get his help buying a new car or bringing home a load of bricks in his pickup for my Circle. But his end was horrifying and I wished it to be over. When I see the goofy obituary picture I have hanging by my desk at work, I smile and try to remember him that way, not as a thin, starving, fevered shell of himself, unable to communicate on any level, except moan in pain. Even going out like a candle flame is better than that. 4 Ahau 8 Kankin burner

1 comment:

Mauigirl said...

Great post - you make some really good points. I think you're right about the fundamentalist Christian believers. I was one for a very brief period of my life back in the 70's (saw through it fairly quickly though and got out) and I was never so scared as I was then - because Hell suddenly became a possibility! I feel much better again now that I'm my usual agnostic self!