Thoughts on death and immortality

I’ve been thinking about death lately.  Not in a morbid, depressed way, but in a more philosophical way.  Someone fairly close to me, someone I have liked a great deal and respected even more over the years, died recently.  The death was neither unexpected nor was it tragic.  Her loved ones are handling things with equanimity.  They knew what was coming and were able to tell her how loved and valued she was.

As you all know, my religious beliefs live in the vast space between shaky and inchoate.  I now question the casual atheism that once characterized my thinking.  There are too many unanswered questions about the world to allow me to negate God.  Science may clarify the details but it leaves the biggest questions more boldly exposed and completely unanswered.  Yes, there was a Big Bang — but what preceded that cataclysmic event?  Reason and humility demand that we accept that science most definitely does not have all the answers.

For example, contrary to the hard-line scientists who would consign us to the dust after we die, I believe in immortality.  But as with all my religious beliefs, I do not believe in any specific form of immortality, whether a heavenly paradise, reincarnation, or some sort of earthly resurrection at the end of days.  I just know that, because humans are truly greater than the sum of their chemical parts, there is some divine spark in us that transcends, and survives beyond, corporeal death.

There is one aspect of immortality, though, that is provable, never mind the fact that it lives in the realm of the intangible: Memory.  My father died almost twenty years ago, but there is a part of my brain that is entirely dedicated to him.  I see him vividly in my mind’s eye and I hear his voice.  When I act upon the lessons he taught me, I am completely aware of his presence.  English was his passion, and every word I write is the living, immortal embodiment of that part of him.

The woman who died recently left behind a great many loved ones.  She always felt triumphant about the fact, because each descendant (and there are many) is a great big, fat raspberry blown in Hitler’s direction.  Hitler is dead and gone, and was incapable of immortalizing himself through his DNA, but this lady, despite losing her parents to the Holocaust and being herself at risk, founded a dynasty.  A vast, vibrant, live-loving dynasty.

That same dynasty that keeps her immortal through shared DNA will also keep her immortal in memory.  Every person carries in his or her memory a little piece of her.  At first, this little piece can be painful.  Every memory is a burning reminder of the recent loss.  With time, though, these same memories become very comforting.  As I know from my Dad, these memories mean you are never alone.  The person is an integral part of you and your relationship to the world around you. More than that, if you have children, you pass down those memories through the stories you tell and the lessons you teach.  They may not know the man, but they know his memory.

Whether through genes or our acts alone, those of us who venture out into the world, gathering around us friends and family, are fortunate enough to be assured of immortality.

Click on the image to see the miracle of endless galaxies

 

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  • http://web.elastic.org/~fche/ fche

    I see your point about a sort of immortality that comes from living in people’s memory.  But there’s the rub: that’s *living* people’s memory.  No living memory persists past two or three generations.

  • http://OgBlog.net Earl

     
    Yeah…memory is tough.  Which is why I’m sending some of my Papa’s things to the hospital he established in Penang, Malay(si)a.  It’s a Chinese culture there, and they revere the elders.  The hospital has built special cabinets for the photographs and books I sent, his journals, his sun-helmet, etc.  THERE, he will be remembered.
     
    You know, BW….in Genesis, it says that G-d made man of the dust of the ground…..and then breathed into his nostrils the breath of life…..and man became a living soul.
     
    Later….in Ecclesiastes, I believe, we read that the body returns to the dust from which it came, and the spirit returns to G-d who gave it.
     
    So, your intuition (and mine) is supported by the Good Book.
     
    :-)

  • Caped Crusader

    This I know, if He were not there we would not struggle so against Him; and try to understand that which is not understandable. And question that for which there is no human understanding. And I believe God expects this of us. I was born and raised an orthodox mainline Protestant Christian and in my eight decades of life these churches have become shadows of their former selves; and due to liberal influences have become meaningless as purveyors of that which is right, rich, pure, and true. If you sincerely read and meditate upon Holy Scriptures in the Hebrew and Christian Bible, and meditate upon them in quiet reflection, sooner or later your heart will be changed and you will feel the presence of God, just as you feel that of your father.  It came to me when I expected to die 38 years ago during a long bout with an extremely virulent cancer. Prior to chemotherapy, I had to take a massive dose of radiation over a large part of my body, and I asked to Lord to go with me into the “fiery furnace” as he had with the three Hebrew children, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and give me the strength to endure; and He did.

    Someone once said that children are the messages we send to the future, so your father did an excellent job and he will always be with you. My father died 60 years ago and my mother 10 years ago and I miss them every day.

    Somewhere along the line, as faith takes hold, you will stop most of your questioning as your belief grows stronger, but it will always exist to some extent. and the Lord expects that, I believe. When you are confident, and faith takes firm hold, you will cease most of the questioning and that is when you will truly enjoy the “ride”. I’m starting to push eighty, and just like a rollercoaster the ride gets even better near the end.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    Strangely, I just had a chat in my house with a Witness I know personally. We were talking about the nature of God and whether the evil and destructive things that have passed on this Earth can be considered his fault. In addition to the promise in the bible that God will erase the effects, but not the cause, of hardship and death.
     
     As for my view on death and life…
     
     
    To be honest I do not think whether they live or die is the matter at hand. Life is not always better than death. It is not that simple. Living and being made to live are very different things. What matters is what the person chooses of their own free will. Whether or not it can be achieved or how difficult it is.
     
     
     
    I want you to think about thisE imagine if what matters most to you was taken away against your will. If that is indeed worth less than your life 
     
    I would rather die having spoken in my manner, than speak in your manner and live. For neither in war nor yet in law ought any man use every way of escaping death. For often in battle there is no doubt that if a man will throw away his arms, and fall on his knees before his pursuers, he may escape death, if a man is willing to say or do anything. The difficulty, my friends, is not in avoiding death, but in avoiding unrighteousness; for that runs deeper than death. 

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    I think if you wish to know more about God or religion in general, then you should speak to a true believer, Book. By that I mean a Mormon, Seven Day Adventist (true pacifist), or Jehovah’s Witness. I have had generally positive interactions with those groups in my local area. Very different from theological debates and arguments on the net, of course. It’s not that I necessarily agree with their views, but that conversing with them brings forth an element of true peace and harmony. It’s something I also found on this blog so many years past (do you remember those years Book, for even if you do not, I do).

     

  • http://OgBlog.net Earl

     
    Ymar: There are Seventh-day Adventists who are “true pacifist”, but it’s not a tenet of the church.  Officially, we’ve always been “conscientious cooperators” – no killing, but lots of medics.  Draft status 1A-O
     
    I’m even sorry to say that during the ‘Nam years, we (administration) refused to support some of the guys who wished to declare themselves 1-O and do service at hospitals or other such places here in the States.
     
    Nowadays, there is a lot more acceptance of diversity, supporting the guys who join up and become soldiers, sailors, airmen, etc…..as well as those who are complete pacifists, and everything in between.  I do believe that members are counseled in favor of the traditional church position, but the individual conscience is given a bit more recognition than earlier.
     
    I’m at least fourth generation SDA on both sides, and have seen a LOT.

  • Mike Devx

    I agree with fche.  Almost all of us disappear within a few generations even in memory. It takes something truly unique for a person to live on historically.

    George Washington comes to mind.  He was intensely conscious of his place in history, in Posterity, and conducted himself at all times with that in mind.  To this day Washington is nearly universally admired for his honor, sense of duty, comportment, thoughtfulness, decisions…

    Contrast George Washington against Barack Obama, who seems completely oblivious to his place in history. Obama is a breathtakingly shallow man, able to comprehend only the exigencies of the current moment.  He has no concept of dignity, and no idea about honor.  History will be harsh indeed.  He did manage to become President, so he won’t disappear into the past the way the rest of us will, but Obama’s form of immortality, much like Jimmy Carter’s, isn’t something either should look forward to.

  • rick9911

    Try reading C. S. Lewis.  I would begin with “Mere Christianity”. It’s a short and easy read.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    That’s interesting Earl, I didn’t know that about you. I was told the Jehovah’s Witness had some historical connections with the SDA, due to some discussions about religion with SDA members by the founder of the Witnesses.

     On a communications board, I was asked by a Seventh Day Adventist, who had done missionary world in a third world, whether practicing Japanese swordmanship would violate her codes of avoiding violence. She felt that simply studying such would make her rely on it instead of relying on faith in God’s power/protection.

    I don’t necessarily rely on God’s power or protection, although that may be obvious by now to the readers of this place. I do tend to make great use of the talents and gifts I was presented upon birth, by fate, chance, or a higher power, however. 

     By true pacifist I mean people who adhere to the codes of conduct of avoiding violence and not escalating conflicts, through Both Word and Deed. Many on the Left claim to be anti war or some such clap trap, while in their personal lives they drip the violence of words and hateful speech every day of their lives. I think we saw that in Forrest Gump, but that was a tiny scintilla of the reality of the Left’s evil. The Jehovah’s Witnesses also accepted death, much like I’ve heard the Quakers did in America’s frontier days, rather than use violence or be drafted by the Germans or some such. My definition of a true believer is someone that fulfills one of these two criteria: what they believe must be strong enough for them to give their lives for and what they believe must be strong enough for them to kill for. Any one, let alone both, will qualify a person as a true believer in my eyes. True believers are very different from normal people, even normal Americans like Democrat voters and welfare recipients. There’s something different about them. I can tell. And the difference between someone who truly believes in the wages of sin and war in the Koran is also very different from someone who truly believes in the Word of God’s promise of salvation in the Bible. I can tell. These things, I spent a long time studying and researching to the point where it’s very familiar to me.

    Christians specifically in my neighborhood area often ask me what my belief is, if I believe in a higher power but don’t adhere to a specific set of church doctrines. Suffice it to say I’m a believer in justice, seeing people get what they deserve, no more and no less. God has clearly given humanity free will and the resources to help themselves, and so I will make effective use of that opportunity.

    In that case, speaking from the perspective of a person that has chosen to seek self training in the methods of utilizing lethal force with only one’s bare hands, I can definitely say that emotionally, I don’t have any problems killing evil people attacking pacifists. I don’t necessarily need or require their help either, although it’d be nice. And it’s not that I do so to protect them or to seek gratitude. It’s because to me, any chance to get rid of evil people in this world is an act of justice and contributes to the greater good. If God has a vision, it serves that vision. I’ve often wondered if military members regret or feel bitter about sacrificing so much for people who are ungrateful. But now as my own skills progress, I’ve come to empathize and understand such sentiments more than I could have imagined in the past.

    I’m emotionally calm and rational about it because I believe true pacifists are useful and beneficial to humanity. They are worth protecting, even if they do not wish to use violence or force to defend themselves. I come to this belief not because of an abstract thing or because other people told me so, but because I’ve met true pacifists and come to judge them for myself, by myself, independent of hollywood or literature’s portrayal of them. I’ve always had a problem with the stories of the Quakers sacrificing themselves and their children to bandits without defending themselves. I always saw that as a waste of life. As I matured and became more knowledgeable, I found myself respecting (sonkenshimasu) millionaires that sacrifice security and luxuries to go preaching the word of God to other countries. Some even died because of it, like the two on a boat. While I regret that nobody was around to kill the evil doers at the time, I also realized that they died doing what they truly loved to do. Such an act is worth in itself, no matter the consequences.

    Of course I am much more “delicate” or tactful when speaking to such people about crime or violence. Until I feel they are ready to consider the truth as I know it, I speak of only subjects lightly touched by such. Since the Witnesses do not believe in using any type of force, including joining the US military in any capacity (as far as I know), I carefully asked them what they would consider in using if words of peace did not avoid conflict. They said that escaping would be logical and acceptable, yet still consistent with relying on God’s power and their faith in God. So I showed them a demonstration of a wrist escape, to teach the greater principle of how one does not use strength against strength in a conflict, but to ensure that I use the least amount of force to accomplish my own safety without hurting myself or the person grabbing me. Of course, I know a lot more than that, but it’s a start. One that they and I can share in harmony, without either party attempting to force the other to an alien viewpoint.

    That’s an interesting understand that I’ve found only amongst true believers. Those that are unable to believe in something of their own free will due to fear or hesitation, often lack this harmony or comprehension.

     I will gladly accept the death of true pacifists in the pursuit of their mission, GOd’s salvation, whether I believe in it or not. But that won’t stop me from killing those that have committed unforgivable evil upon the children of this planet, if I am given the opportunity to do so. Belief, comes in many shades and colors, depending upon a person’s conscience.
     

  • http://OgBlog.net Earl

     
    Ymar: I think Witnesses and SDA arose about the same time – we came out of the Great Disappointment in 1844…church organized a bit later.
     
    I’ve never been pacifist, personally, although my brother really leans that direction.  Logically, I can’t see it – if the good are pacifists, the bad guys win.  Unless we depend on God alone.  But, the Bible doesn’t support that, as far as I can see.
     
    Even if Christ’s admonition to “turn the other cheek” actually means what some say (no self-defense), it’s clearly for wrong against one’s self.  If the wrong is against another, there’s a Biblical mandate to protect the weak and helpless. And Christ Himself used violence in throwing the money-changers out of the temple, so the pacifist position never made sense to me.  If someone invaded my home and threatened me or mine, I would blow him away.  I might have some trouble processing a killing afterward, but intellectually it seems the right thing to do, so I’d do the processing.
     
    Even Gandhi recognized that his pacifism worked only because he was dealing with the Brits!  :-)
     
    I would have been 1A-O if I hadn’t got cancer and ended up with a 4-F.  Not the way to buy your way out of ‘Nam – my chance of survival would have been a LOT better over there with the Cong.  But, maybe there was a mortar with my name on it and this was G-d’s way of getting me out of it.  For the record, I do not believe in that sort of G-d…I was jesting.
     
     

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    I’ve brought up the money changers as well. My view, at the time, was that I was there to communicate and learn, not to convince. After all, I know very well the kind of thing that would be required to make me change my views… I assume that a true pacifist’s views are just as strong and rests upon just as endurable a foundation. It would take more than words to convince me. It would take Christ’s legions of angels coming down to Earth and destroying entire armies of totalitarian dictators for me to believe as they believe. (Starting with the EPA and the ATF and the TSA)

     The way I analyzed it, true pacifists are able to avoid much of violence because they don’t contribute to the cycle of violence, either by Deed or Word. People get into trouble because angry people infect other people with that anger and it escalates. True pacifists rely on their faith in God’s power, as Jesus Christ said to Peter (I think) who swung a sword and cut off the ear of a flunkey sent by the Jewish authorities to arrest/lynch Christ: that Peter might have doubted the fact that Jesus Christ is the son of God and could command a legion of armies when he needed it, and thus to put his sword away. I thought it was a very clever way to defuse a potential lethal situation. I’ve learned of these things, paradoxically, from studying violence and criminals via the help of those like Marc MacYoung (former LA style street gang member or such). Most people, however, don’t have the strength of this belief, so they lack the confidence. When they lack the confidence, whatever they say in a violent confrontation will end up sounding either like a bluff or a threat, because they’re trying to fake something their body cannot fake even if their words are deceptive. Most people need physical skills to rely on to have that kind of confidence. The confidence to stop escalating a situation and avoid the fight, ego or no ego.

    In that sense, what I see as the true pacifist is the development and specialization in the self defense field’s art of avoiding trouble. 99% of people’s problems would go away if they adhere to such precepts. However, that remaining 1%… 

  • Danny Lemieux

    I have no use for pacifism and don’t believe that Jesus ever advocated pacifism. Much of this stems from a confused mis-translation of the 10 Commandments, whereby earlier versions of the English Bible mistranslated the commandment, “Thou shalt not murder” into “Thou shalt not kill”.

    In the New Testament, according to Luke 22:36, Jesus instructed his disciples as follows… “But now,” he said, “take your money and a traveler’s bag. And if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one!” 

    I do not believe that He was encouraging his disciples to use their swords to hunt rabbits.

    Killing people is bad. Very bad. However, protecting the innocent is a very good thing. Killing the guilty to protect innocent life outweighs the bad.

    In a world divided between sheep and wolves, the most noble of creatures is the sheep dog that protects the flock.

     

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    I don’t see it in the fashion that Danny does, although I can understand where that viewpoint comes from.

     Pacifism has often been associated with the Left and used for political purposes. Essentially it was never true pacifism because the people never believed in anything worth dying for, certainly not pacifism or communism.

     Most people who claim to be pacifists, are false ones. By the simple fact that I can tell through analyzing their deeds and words. Those are the most vocal, because they’re the most verbally abusive, and so most people take their glimpse of that. However, a true believer is a different breed of animal entirely.

  • Charles Martel

    Danny, your point about Christians being called upon to protect the innocent is a good one. I remember C.S. Lewis’s discussion of whether it was licit to take the life of a German soldier since the taking of life is proscribed by our religion. He pointed out, though, that not only was the death of a Nazi a good in the sense that it protected his victims from further harm at his hands, it was also good in that it protected the Nazi himself from committing more evil.
     
    Since it was obvious that the Nazi (or Communist) would continue to murder and torture voluntarily until stopped by some outside force, it was a Christian warrior’s duty to become that force.

  • http://bookwormroom.com Bookworm

    Regarding the discussion of a good person’s obligation to strike down evil, doesn’t Dennis Prager frequently make the point that our society’s obsession with the criminal displays both a lack of compassion for the victim and creates a dynamic in which the criminal can go on to create more victims?

    And yes, Danny, you’re absolutely right about that Biblical translation.  Murder is wrongful killing.  Practically every story in the Bible, though, acknowledges either killing in ones own defense or in defense of ones society — which would include warfare.

  • Ron19

    5:  I think if you wish to know more about God or religion in general, then you should speak to a true believer.

    9:  Belief, comes in many shades and colors, depending upon a person’s conscience.

    If you ask around, or do some searches in a library or on the internet, you can find “true believers” by most anyone’s definition for almost any idea that has ever come down the pike.  The only reason you might not consider Satan and his minions to be “believers” is that they know beyond any possible doubt.

    Instead of looking for belief, try looking for truth.  Objective, universal truth.  It’s out there waiting for you.

  • http://OgBlog.net Earl

     
    Martel:  Does it change the calculus at all that virtually no one in the Wehrmacht was a Nazi?
     
    I don’t think so…they were defending the regime.  Fair game, in my book.

  • Charles Martel

    Earl, you make a good point, although word has come out over the years that the Wehrmacht was almost as zealous at murder and torture as the SS.
     
    I used Nazi as a shorthand for the mentality that loves cruelty, much as most soldiers of the Red Army, although not Communist Party members, stood ready to kill whomever their masters told them to.

  • http://photoncourier.blogspot.com David Foster

    v”Does it change the calculus at all that virtually no one in the Wehrmacht was a Nazi?”

    This seems most improbable, given that the Wehrmacht was a pretty good cross-section of the German population, and the Nazi Party won 37% of the vote in the 1932 elections for the Reichstag.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    That’s just a subjective viewpoint, to search for the truth. On this planet, everyone searches for the truth and many think they have found it. In order to differentiate between the real and the false, one must necessarily study all of humanity, not simply the parts that one believes to be correct.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    Of course, what that means is that some people’s truth is “I like chocolate” or “I want the government to give me money for free”. But to them, subjectively, that is the truth. I’m not interested in such a level of truth, however.

     

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    http://www.closequarterscombat.com/blog/home-invasion-story-update/

    Here’s a good example of what can happen when you don’t know how to use lethal force in H2H.

    All you can do is run. And leave the women folk behind. To be burned alive. Yeah, that sounds like a good idea. Or not. 

  • Ron19

    Ymarsakar:

    OK, I see what your saying, objective universal truth is subjective and belief of true believers is objective, and you get to choose which true belivers are right so you can choose from several contradictory believers to get the right answers.

    On what basis do you decide which true believers are which?

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    No, that’s not what I’m saying either. The decision to pursue truth for an individual is indeed subjective. But in order to convert that subjective goal into an objective standard, one must necessarily use other sources than one’s belief. Thus herein we can utilize the true belief of other people as a barometer for comparison. To use an easier to understand model, the ability to generate power in Taiji Chuan is heavily based upon feeling. However, simply relying upon that will not produce power in the real world since there is no “real world check” to see if the feeling a person is feeling, is what they think it is; thus a Taiji Chuan user must participate in listening hands, push hands, and drills against other humans to check if their feeling is true or false. To use a non-martial arts example, there are all kinds of unknown unknowns attached to human belief that we won’t know to correct until we become aware of them. In the past, explorers and missionaries have discovered things because they sought them outside the comfortable confines of their world view or society.

    So paradoxically, the way to find inner truth is to ignore what is inside and look externally at other things. And only after that, can one then look inwards and see what is. 

  • Ron19

    Ymarsakar:

    My wife thinks that the truth of something, such as the Trayvon Martin shooting, is generated by her feelings; it’s true because that is what she thinks, and has nothing to do with what I think.

    OK: so while you’re looking inside yourself to find individual truth, I will continue with the universal, objective truth stuff.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    The fact that your wife makes judgments based upon a personal emotional feeling is interesting, but in so far as it affects me, it only provides me with a glimpse into the truth of something called the art of propaganda. Now the art of propaganda exists. And no matter how much you wish it didn’t, it will continue to exist and continue to convince people based upon emotion. That is reality, genjitsu. It is not the truth you wish to concern yourself with perhaps, but it is real nonetheless.

    Do you really think you can handle objective truth without comprehending the entirety of the world? I think not. 

  • Ron19

    I really think I can handle the objective truth that I posted comment #25 above without comprehending the entirety of the world.

  • http://OgBlog.net Earl

     
    David Foster:  Fair enough.  I think I was not as specific as I might have been.  The officer corps was mostly upper class and both disdained and hated the brownshirts and their masters.  It would be very surprising if any of them were members of the Party…although political officers may have been imposed at some point….I don’t know anything about that.
     
    I’ve not seen a breakdown of the rank and file, but when the dirty stuff was done, it’s my understanding that it was the S.S. or the S.A. that moved in – the Nazi apparatus didn’t trust the Army.
     
    But, hey!  I’m a biologist, not a(n) historian of the Reich.  What do I know?

  • 94Corvette

     
    I must confess, many of my thoughts about religion were shaped around the concept that God is love. Every perversion of love is then sin (I know, that is not original with me but it has resonated with me for nearly sixty years). When you read of the creation, you see God taking things from chaos and confusion to order (“. . . it was good). From the Garden of Eden and Man’s fall, chaos reentered the world and we began what I believe to be entropy back to the chaos that reigned when God began creation. In Romans, we are told,
     “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.   For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope  that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved.”
     
    Man has tried to achieve immortality through perfection through the ages.  I remember one of the lines at the end of “Pippin” where he is tempted to find perfection through suicide by joining the perfection of a flame.  Jesus showed us that perfection was not possible, except through Him and His love for us.  Through Him, through we are flawed, we are perfect.  I then believe that when I move from this life to the next, I will find that final perfection. 
     
    My mother died this past year and one thought that continually comforts me is the image of her, my grandmother , aunts and uncles all together, watching me and my family here on earth and seeing that what they taught me about God was right.  There is a verse in 1 Cor. that says that ‘we see through a mirror darkly now but when that which is perfect is come, we shall see all things clearly.’  I believe that when we reach our reward, we will look back and understand how things all worked together to bless our lives.  We’ll see how we helped others and the effects we never dreamed about occurring stretched through the generations.  That is immortality.  We may not be remembered for more than a generation or so here on earth but the lives we touch will remember us through eternity.
     
    One of the hardest things for me to do is to float on my back.  I know that I can do it, but when I try, if I don’t watch it, I try too hard, stiffen up and sink like a stone.  If I only relax and have the faith that I will float, I float.  That’s how it is for me with God’s love.  If I quit trying to perfect myself, relax and let Him take control, I float.  The peacefulness of floating in the pool is a prelude to the utter peace I will have when I move on. 
     
    And how do I envision Hell?  To know that this peace and perfection could have been yours if you only believed. . . . to know that if you had only believed you could enjoy peace but because you didn’t, that peace will never be yours.  That is the fire that never burns out, the worm that never dies.
     

  • http://OgBlog.net Earl

     
    Thanks 94Corvette….how I do love Romans!!
     
    As for Hell….read The Great Divorce (all the way through, now) carefully.  It helped a lot – that part about your choice working its way back through all of life was eye-opening to me.  Understand it isn’t that Lewis was writing about what he thought the physical aspects of hell would be like….it’s subtler than that.
     
    Anyhow, Biblically our death is presented as unconsciousness until the Lord returns and the Resurrection occurs and we all have new and perfect bodies (YEAH!).  That’s always been comforting to me — hard enough to deal with illness, tragedy and finally death of loved ones while we’re here on earth.  Looking down on all the horrid stuff going on never appealed to me.  If that’s how it is, I’ll be out on the golf course (OK, OK….maybe playing my harp on a cloud!) where I don’t have to watch, thanks!

  • Caped Crusader

    94Corvette:
     
    As well said as I have ever heard.

  • 94Corvette

    Thanks –

    My view of the end of times has evolved over the years.  When I was young, I was taught that in judgement the ‘books would be opened and all that we had done would be revealed’.  Finally, finally, I realized that with God’s grace, all my sins had been washed away and that my page in ‘the book’ didn’t reflect sins, it reflected good.  One of the telling things that Christ said was that people who do good for the praise they receive on earth ‘have their reward’.  I take that to mean that as they have opted to receive praise instead of giving God the glory for the opportunity to serve.  Two books that have really influenced me are ‘When Bad Things Happen to Good People” and “When Everything You’ve Ever Wanted Isn’t Enough”, both by Rabbi Kushner.  It is through our optimizing those opportunities we have in life to serve that we achieve our highest potential.

    I believe that between death and God’s coming, we are aware of happenings on earth (I am a literalist with the story of the rich man and Lazeras).  Whether or not we are aware is immaterial – I’m simply thrilled that I am heading there and there is nothing that can separate me from the love of God.

  • http://OgBlog.net Earl

     
    94 Corvette said: “I’m simply thrilled that I am heading there and there is nothing that can separate me from the love of God.”
     
    Amen.  You’re my brother.
     
    Much of the detail is a great mystery, and fighting over it pleases no one but the Evil One.

  • shirleyelizabeth

    Sorry to add so late…just now catching up after a long week of jury duty (and another fun one next week).
     
    This doesn’t contribute to the current conversation, but rather is just my addition to the idea of humans being immortalized through their posterity.
    My mother didn’t live to see my complete second year. I have no memories of her. I do not have her blue eyes, that grace my son, but in most other physical aspects look just like her. But what I have learned from having a mother that others knew but I didn’t is that we inherit from our parents, maybe even all ancestors, more than just memories or physical traits. I have been told that I am very much like my mother in nature. When I visit my aunt I make her cry because I remind her of her lost sister through my every day mannerisms and actions.
    I was initially baffled by this, wondering how someone could be so much like a parent they’d never known. I can only conclude that somewhere and somehow in the mix of DNA and kinship, far more is being passed on than just eye and hair color.

  • http://bookwormroom.com Bookworm

    Shirleyelizabeth:  We know behaviors can be bred into dogs, so it seems perfectly reasonable that they can be bred into humans too.  I think what you’re saying makes sense.

  • Danny Lemieux

    When our hummingbirds leave our garden for their migration to Mexico, the first to leave are the males, followed by the females and then, finally, the young.

    Somehow, the young already have all the information implanted in their brains needed to navigate and survive their journey across the Gulf of Mexico to the Yucatan all by themselves.

    The majority of the brain’s structure and function is not understood. I am convinced that knowledge and memory are handed down from generation to generation. I know that I carry something of my parents and grandparents within me and that it has been handed down to my kids.

  • http://OgBlog.net Earl

     
    First, Shirleyelizabeth: Condolences on the loss of your mother.  That’s a wound that must never completely heal, and it takes my breath away to think of being without my Mom.  It will happen soon – she’s 90 in December, and both frail and forgetful.  But, she’s been there for me these 64+ years and I’m profoundly grateful.
     
    Second, you’ve called our attention to something quite profound — despite all of the research on brains, DNA, behavior, learning, etc., and despite the sometimes shrill declamations of the partisans on both sides…we still don’t know with certainty what’s “nature” and what’s “nurture”.
     
    G-d bless you and your family.

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