7/11/2009—There was a story in the most recent edition of World magazine about a woman dying from cancer. A staunch Christian, she reportedly said that the cancer was how God was bringing her to heaven.
I have always found this denial of death to be the least healthy aspect of Christian thought. And I am not alone in this. When his wife died, C.S. Lewis denigrated the idea that he and his wife would be reunited later in heaven. In fact, Jesus criticized this way of thinking when his opponents, the Sadducees, tried to trap him, asking whose wife the woman with seven husbands would be. Jesus said that at the time of the resurrection, people would not marry but would be like angels in heaven (Mt. 22, 23-33). This suggests first that there may not be any heaven at all, but only resurrection. Second, it suggests that you will not have the kind of existence that you have now.
On the other hand, when I am finally told I am going to die soon, I may leap to any comfort I can get. So, who am I to criticize?
But the story raises the question, what story or myth will hallowed secularists tell themselves to help come to terms with death? It seems to me that for the secularist, the understanding must center around the great circle of life. Yes, my life is at an end. But that must be so, or my grandchild could not be born. I have my time and all others have theirs.
The philosopher Martin Heidegger, in analyzing the Anaximander fragment, suggested that the unwillingness to get off the stage of existence is the root of evil. If this is so, capitalism and Christianity, and Islam, for that matter, have contributed to evil by their cult of individualism. Maybe Hallowed Secularism will do better.