Religion and Life after Life††† ††††††††
At the age of about four, I remember walking on in front of my father, on the way home from an errand to the shops.† I skipped along the path oblivious to the car that was reversing from a driveway.† It may seem incredibly strange, but I remember the feeling of being pushed over, just as the car was about to hit me.† The driver stopped and asked if I was okay, I crawled from under the back of his car and ran back to my dad who was out of sight, round the corner.† The emotional impact that that experience had on me remains to this day.† I got up from the path with the strong feeling that there was more to this life than meets the eye and that someone was watching over me.
So began a lifelong quest to understand what I was doing here, what my purpose was, if I had come from anywhere, and where I would go after this life was over.††
I suppose from a cultural perspective I have felt most comfortable with the role model that Jesus of Nazareth offers.† I happen to believe that his cause has been hijacked by a few to their own ends.† As I walked the land of Israel and followed in the footsteps that he trod, I couldnít help feeling that the kind of Christianity he espoused was a lot simpler than it became known for later on down the years.† I suppose Christianity has been used as a tool of manipulation, social control and power down through the ages, still we all seem a little more enlightened now, and perhaps it did more good than bad, so who can judge.
Iím quite a fan of the old testament ten commandments, not that I purport to be able to live them all the time, its just that they seem quite a good guideline for living a civilised life.† If Jesus really did say it then all of the guidelines and commandments given, can be encapsulated into two premises. Love God, and love your neighbour as yourself. I know a lot of philosophical issues can rage around that statement, but taking it at its very core. I suppose that the most important thing that we can do in this world is to love, and not just the people that are easy to love, but also everyone, from every race, culture and religious background.† I suppose that the next question would be ĎWhat is love?í C.S. Lewis attempted to define it in his book the four loves, and countless books have been written, and statements made through word and song on just exactly how we can love.† I think I know what love is not.† It is not possessiveness; it is not prejudice, hatred, or fear.† It is not coercion, or manipulation.† It is not having a lack of empathy, and it is not judgement, or criticism based on anything other than love.† It is not narrow-minded, intolerant, bigoted, or fanatical and extreme.† It is not in violence or malevolence.† It is not in greed, envy or jealousy.† It is not in apathy or negative gossip.† It is not in bearing a grudge, or being unforgiving.†
As I watched my father struggle with dignity and optimism through the last year of his life Ė a transformation came over him, that I have heard comes over many people dealing with their immediate demise.† He was always a good man, but his cancer took any hard edges that he had away from him.† He became quiet, at peace, dignified, forgiving, tolerant and could quickly assess the relative importance or unimportance of any issue that arose, in short he became full of love.† It was a privilege to be around him.
On defining religion, it has always intrigued me that from Jesusí standpoint, the purest of religion is to look after the fatherless and the widows.† Though I hold to no organised religion, I believe that if they, as an organisation adhere to that statement then they cant be that bad.† Personally, I donít particularly like what my husband calls the football club mentality.† My team is better than yours, and all the prejudices that arise from religion seems to be an example of what love is not.† Still, if belonging to a particular religion whatever it is.. helps someone to be more loving then surely that cannot be a bad thing, and if being round people who believe the same gives strength and encouragement to be more loving then surely that cant be bad either.†
As my father was drawing closer to death I asked him would he come back after his death and visit me.† I believe that he did.† One of the things I asked him eagerly was what life was all about.† He answered that it was about ETERNAL PROGRESSION and LOVE†† and SERVICE.† It didnít seem to matter what religion you had been.† His communication with me was in the spirit of love and there was no fear.†† If, as some of my associates say, that it was an experience concocted by my own mind in grief, then fair and well, perhaps Iíll find out for sure one day.