I wrote in my last post about death. The basic concept that people cling to silly religious beliefs because the thought of DEATH, of not knowing what happens when we die, is so damn frightening that people will believe just about anything. Anything to assuage those fears of suddenly becoming NOTHING.
This week, death came to visit our family. Mr. Death was downright unfriendly. On Friday, he tried to drag my brother-in-law into his murky realm of unknown, during a routine back surgery. I don’t think back surgery is ever really routine, but as far as it CAN be routine, this one was. It was a shock to go to the hospital, and discover that this father of five, three older children with babies of their own, and two young children with my sister, was teetering on the brink of death. A vein was torn, he began to bleed out, and it required two vascular surgeons four hours to bring him back from the brink of death. We heard “He might die” more than once. He might die.
And as we all faced his mortality, and in tandem, our own, I saw the look on all the faces of our family. The unknown. The “what the hell happens now?” My sister could think of nothing but her “poor man,” never once thinking of what I did: she would be left to raise two young children, one special needs and one high maintenance, alone. That speaks, of course, for her own courage and compassion.
But she would be alone. My BIL’s father lost a son last year, in a horrifying motorcycle accident. To lose another this way seemed beyond cruel.
My BIL’s three grown children lost their own mother when they were very, very young. To lose their father now…. Unthinkable. Terrifying.
It’s no wonder people want to know.
And so, I composed this little letter to God. I do not write this saying that I believe in a “God,” especially the Mormon God, but I don’t really know there ISN’T a higher power either. For some people, this is heresy. For others, it’s just mind boggling. You have to know, you can’t possibly NOT know.
Well, actually, yeah, you can, because no one actually KNOWS. They just THINK they know.
“I know this church is true….”
Because, my mommy and daddy told me so?
Because I prayed about it, and it felt right?
Because if I close my eyes and don’t think about it real hard, I can “feel” the spirit?
One time I went to an Assemblies of God church, and during a song, when everyone was waving their arms and praising Jesus, and this one really strange lady did the whole speaking in tongues thingie, I felt something crawl up my spine and I could have sworn it was the spirit. Later, I’m wondering if it was a bug or spider. Because, see, there I was in that crowd, and we were all a group, singing and praising Jesus, and it just felt so RIGHT. So together. So peaceful and honest and forthright.
Of course, when I was alone later, and my pasta pie turned out good, I didn’t yell out “Praise Jesus,” because it just didn’t feel the same. And yet, why was it different? If God was with me at the church, why did he not follow me down to my little house to eat some good food? Or at least hang out for a while and let me get to know him?
The truth, of course, was that you can pretty much convince yourself of anything when you are in a crowd of people saying the same thing. I mean, at a Motley Crue concert, just about everybody thinks they are the coolest band ever, except those of us who aren’t tone deaf. Sorry, MC, but you just don’t do it for me.
Religion thrives on masses of people getting together to proclaim truth.
Despite the claims of many that religion is deeply personal, it is anything BUT personal. Those who believe things that cannot be proven seek constant validation. If you do not validate their beliefs, they often condemn you. Sometimes they hurt you. And they even kill you, because they MUST do so if you question their belief.
Because they KNOW, and you are wrong.
Back to my little letter to God:
Dear God, if all of these churches are true, and they all claim to be the ONLY true thing, how should I know? How WILL I know?
Joseph Smith supposedly heard from God himself that all of these churches were abominations. He should join none of them. Yet a true timeline shows he did JUST that, joining the roles of another church, just after talking with the Big Man. That alone speaks volumes about the real Joseph Smith.
The truth is, none of us will ever know what happens when we die, because the dead aren’t talking.
I’m just glad my BIL is still here with us speaking, even if he’s bearing his testimony. Love can cross those boundaries of religion, no matter what people will tell you.
I will always be me. It won’t change the way I feel about my family. If you need the comfort to sleep at night, more power to you. Just don’t start flying planes into buildings…. Please.
RIP, Aunt Doris, who died early the next morning, the day after Paul was saved.
My mother says she “crossed the veil.”
I say she was old, and her body gave out. And somewhere out there, her positive energy is floating around now, spreading good will to those who deserve it.