"Is there really life after death??" Where the heck did THIS thought come from? Yikes, surely I have better things to think about on the eve of a trip to Italy than pondering the mysteries of life after death! Oh well, now that I'm on the subject...and have a few minutes to kill ('cause sure as heck I'm not starting anything new at work, and have finished all that I intended to do today anyway - which is a miracle in itself with my mind wandering all over the place like this!)
I guess the thought came because something reminded me of an Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations episode. I love that show - Tony will eat anything and enjoy it...well except for that nasty bit of offal served him in Namibia (unwashed warthog rectum cooked al dente on the ashes of an open fire...mmm...) If I hadn't seen that footage for myself, I'd be hard pressed to believe anyone could physically manage to swallow such a thing without some serious gagging! (Man, he almost managed to look like he enjoyed it...almost. Although I'm not so sure he wasn't sick afterward.)
Anyway, the show I was reminded of was based in Cleveland (just a tad less exotic than Africa!) and his guest was a guy named Harvey Pekar. I had never before heard of Harver Pekar, or his apparently very well known autobiographical series American Splendor, but this exchange cracked me up:
Anthony_Bourdain: "Does it give you satisfaction to know people will still be reading American Splendour in 50, 100 years?"
Harver Pekar: "Yeah, but I'll be dead then...when you're dead, it robs you of many pleasures."
So true...but it made me think of what happens when you're dead...the "afterlife" - what IS that all about anyway? After life...life after death. Is there such a thing? And if so, what does it look like, or more to the point, feel like?
The United Church of Canada's New Creed is:
We are not alone, we live in God's world.
We believe in God:
who has created and is creating,
who has come in Jesus,
the Word made flesh,
to reconcile and make new,
who works in us and others
by the Spirit.
We trust in God.
We are called to be the Church:
to celebrate God's presence,
to live with respect in Creation,
to love and serve others,
to seek justice and resist evil,
to proclaim Jesus, crucified and risen,
our judge and our hope.
In life, in death, in life beyond death,
God is with us.
We are not alone.
Thanks be to God.
What does it mean "...in life beyond death, God is with us."?? Does it mean God is with me in MY life beyond death? That Christ is with me now in HIS life beyond death? Both? Neither? I struggle with the life beyond death concept...or at least I am baffled as to the form it might take. I personally am certain there is something beyond the end of our lump of flesh and electrical impulses...once its bodily refuge has worn out, our soul must surely go somewhere. I just have no idea where, or how, or what form it might take. Does our soul stay intact as "a" spirit, or dissolve into the bigger Spirit - is life after death the literal part of being "one with God"?
I took a philosophy course in university called "Death and the Mind"...one of our papers was to take one side of the argument regarding what is the "original" person in the event of a mind transplant (keeping in mind this was an impossible scenario simply for the purpose of philosophical argument). Supposing person Xs mind had to be transplanted into a container of some sort (to prevent deterioration or something, I forget, but the reason wasn't relevant.) The question was: Which is the original person - the old body with the brain and past physical experiences, or the new vessel with the mind and memories? I argued in favour of the mind, since that seemed to me to more fully capture the true essence of the person. The essence of a person being more about the mind, the emotions, the memories, the soul...those are the things that make me "me". I don't recall the details of my logic, although I got an A+, so apparently I argued my point competently. I do recall that I was in the minority by going with the "real person is the one in the jar" theory! More of the students thought the body/brain combo was the real deal.
It's all such a mystery, what happens after physical life...I guess I'll just have to stay tuned and find out when my time comes. Not, of course, that I anticipate finding out for a good many years yet - I've no worries of impending doom on my upcoming trip, I assure you!! And now, I'm heading home to pack (finally!)