Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Death and Dying: Part 2

Part 2 of this blog post will consist of me talking about my ideas about dying, Heaven, and Hell. Remember, these are my ideas, so feel free to give comments on how to improve them!

So what I do I think about death? It is an unfortunate consequence of life, but something that we cannot avoid. However, it is not something that represents an “end”, but rather, a “beginning”. Death is sad for those who stay behind, and indeed, may even be sad for those who leave this Earth, maybe regretting not going on that vacation with their kids or buying that car they really wanted. However, I don’t think that we should focus so much on the fact that the person “died” and they can’t participate in the human experience anymore. Rather, we should realize that they are in a better place, where there is no pain, and be happy that they no longer have to experience suffering (this is, of course, assuming that they go to Heaven as envisioned in Christianity). Though it is normal to grieve for a departed one, we must not let that grief consume us. After all, we would want our loved ones to be happy even without us, or at least when I die, I want those whom I left behind to remember me fondly and for them to live life with happiness, despite me not being there anymore. One day, we are to join them, so why not wish them the best? Let them go with no worries.

Now, what does that death represent? As I said before, it is a beginning. But a beginning to what? In the Christian tradition, whenever someone dies, if they have lived a good life and die with no sin, then their soul goes to Heaven. If they die as a bad person, with sin, then their soul goes to Hell. Simple, right? Not exactly. Catholics also believe in a Purgatory, which is where souls go when they aren’t evil enough to go to Hell yet are not quite saintly enough to go to Heaven. Some may scoff at this idea, especially Protestants, but the existence of Purgatory can be supported with scripture. Anyways, you can think of Purgatory as a car wash. You are clean for the most part, you just need to get rid of the few blemishes you may have. That’s what Purgatory is.

What is Hell? Hell is the evolution of the idea of Sheol, except that in Hell, souls are tortured. Or at least that’s the preconception of Hell that everyone believes. I have come to shy away from that idea, simply because the implications of an all-loving God who would also willingly torture non-believers and sinners in such a way to be disturbing, to say the least. Thanks to several people and some inner thinking, I have come to see Hell not as a place of torture, but as an existence where the evil soul experiences pain because they realize they have deprived themselves of God’s presence. In a way, I am starting to think of Hell almost as Sheol- a place where you simply don’t “exist”. This would also sort of explain God’s omnipresence with the fact that Hell is supposed to be the complete presence of God. And what better place for God not to be present in is “non-existence”? These ideas still need thought and are subject to revision, but for now, this is what I believe.

What is Heaven? Heaven is the complete presence of God. You are there, with Him, near Him, as a part of Him. You’re surrounded by God. You will no longer experience pain or sorrow anymore. This is an eternal existence, so it is practically impossible to describe how eternity feels. What happens when you enter Heaven? Since Heaven is a place where you experience existence in eternity, then once you “go” there, everyone who was, is, and will be going into Heaven is already there. Basically, it’s like everyone went into the same time. It’s a bit confusing to think about. With that said, I believe Heaven is the best place to be, because there you are with the source of Love itself, God. At that point, you give yourself completely to Him, and you let Him live in you as you live in Him.

As I take more of this class and learn more, I will continue to develop my ideas and improve my theological thinking. For now, have fun, and don’t forget to stay tuned to this blog!

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