Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Life After Death

I think one of the hardest things to let go of as I came to terms with atheism was the idea of an afterlife. As a child, my gut instinct was to believe in reincarnation. Even before I ever saw the movie Fluke (a chief influence on my beliefs, I assure you), I thought it was most likely that I would come back to life as a squirrel or dog. Despite my weekly catechism, I just had this idea that reincarnation made more sense than a literal Heaven.  Imagine my shock when I got older and learned about Karma and Hinduism. You mean I didn't come up with that on my own???

As I got older, and wasn't sure what I believed in, I found that it was easier to let go of the idea of Heaven than Hell. It was so satisfying to imagine that rapists and child molesters, spousal abusers and murderers, Hitler and the like, were all rotting in this imaginary place... suffering for the crimes of their life on Earth. That's something that was really difficult to let go.

My LP had an even harder time imagining the lack of an afterlife. It can be a really scary idea. Moreover, it was pretty sad to abandon the fantasy that we would be able to spend eternity together after we died. That's a really nice fairy tale.

I think that one can achieve immortality, to a certain degree, in the memories of the living. Because I don't think anything happens when we die (other than decomposition), I don't care too much what happens to my body after death. I'd like it to be as eco-friendly as possible, but also bring comfort to whoever cares about me when I'm gone. That's why, when I heard about "And Vinyly" on NPR the other day, I was totally intrigued. Basically, they press your cremated ashes into vinyl records and you can have whatever song or message you want. Now, is this the most practical idea ever? Absolutely not. But I do think it's pretty cool. Will anyone even own record players once I'm dead? Unlikely.

I don't think that I would actually have my family pay the money for something like this. The funeral industry is pretty evil in its manipulation of the emotions of the grieving. But I'd love to find more options like this... something a lot more interesting than having an ugly urn on your fireplace mantle for 50+ years.

1 comment:

  1. so funny you say that about reincarnation, i remember telling my stepmom that i believed in reincarnation during a christmas eve service when i was about 9. she said "that's not what christians believe." at the time i thought "oh, ok" and went back to believing in heaven and hell. in hindsight, it's that kind of dictation that keeps religion going and it exactly why it shouldn't. quintessential brainwashing right there.


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