Friday, January 6, 2012
Heaven or Hell, well, what the hell!?
If someone calls out with their last breath: "Jesus Christ!" Are they meeting him or just swearing?
I just hope my last words aren't, "Oops!"
Fear is a great motivator. Nothing gets people going like a good old-fashioned bodily threat. Fear is good because it often results in deliberation, perspective and caution. Those who fear not generally end up cleansing their gene pool. Dolts go where angels fear to tread. Aging inculcates fear. The more experience one has, the more one realizes that fear is justified more often than youth recognizes. Youth fears death; aging justifies death. Instead of fearing death, one welcomes it if only to be rid of that damned arthritis pain.
But, behold, I have labored mightily and given birth to the following notion: Believers of everlasting life have more, much more, to worry about than those who do not believe. If there is no afterlife, then what’s to worry, eh? One second you’re screaming in stark terror as they apply power to the chair, the next . . . next . . . well, nothing actually. Piece of cake.
Now regard in wonder at this notion of eternity. You spend eternity complaining about that damn arthritis that makes bowling impossible. Does it get any sadder than that? Well, yes, indeed. Consider spending interminable life listening to the constant harping of your mother-in-law who insists on living with you even though you put her bed in a corner of the garage. Or wondering if that lazy bum next door is once again going to let his maple leaves blow onto your pristine, green expanse: you know: The one that pollutes our air and the ground water. Or spending uncountable hours dealing canasta for another of your wife’s afternoon tea parties. Or sitting through a myriad of Wagner opera’s because your boss keeps giving you tickets. Or, God forbid, spending infinity sitting on the john because your colitis has proved to be intractable.
You get the inkling. No clouds, no harps, no wings, just eternal acne. If the prospect does not introduce abject fear in your breast, then you are already dead.
I am suspicious of afterlife and prefer than there be none. My ego does not require knowledge that I will exist forever. God forbid!
Now, what if one was able to pick a time in their physical journey that they could return to for all time? Perhaps go back to that monumental stud that you were at 18. Or the clear skin and taut body of a 16-year old fox. In that case I might be interested. In either condition.
From time immemorial, the concept of heaven and hell has been used sort of like modern motivational signs. The inspiration was to promise milk and honey and Hershey bars to one’s subjects if they accepted the awful life of the here for putative rewards there. I guess it worked, although I’m not sure very many of the slaving had a choice. If, against all reason and odds, the untermenschen rose up in anger, righteous or otherwise, they were condemned to painful death in this life and still more heinous treatment in the next. That worked even better than promising heaven. (Today, hell consists of such merciless treatment as non-stop reruns of Judge Judy.)
Nowadays, most people want a good life now: They want the iPad at this instant and will take their chances later. Of course, they are prone to deathbed conversions, or at least second thoughts, and stand ready to return the iPad if it helps. (My uncle made a deathbed conversion to the Catholicism of his forbearers on his deathbed. The church accepted him forthwith. They had a quota to meet.)
My next goal is to ascertain with certainty to which place my mother-in-law is headed. I’m buying a ticket to the other one.
Posted by Patrick Fero at 8:40 AM