The following is a commentary in an ongoing series of “Reflections” by John Mill. John Mill is the radio persona of Ronald Bruce Meyer and can be heard on “American Heathen.” “The American Heathen” Internet radio broadcast is aired, live, on Friday nights from 7:00pm-10:00pm Central time on ShockNetRadio.com
Death Is Better Than Life
A Reflection by Ronald Bruce Meyer
Have you ever wondered why Christians desire death so earnestly?
I’ve been wondering about this a long time. But this was most pointedly brought to my attention when I attended an African-American wake and funeral about a month ago. The deceased was in his 70s and had died suddenly of natural causes. His ceremony was Baptist, but there were a variety of Christian preachers there. To me it was like sitting in the middle of an alien landscape.
There was raucous singing and joyous clapping. There were fulsome tributes. Then the preacher, a middle-aged woman, came to the platform and started into her sermon. Her text was “Death to Life.” That is, when we die, it’s not over, it’s just beginning — if you accept Jesus.
I tried to understand it. I really did. The dead guy had lived a full life, and all were rejoicing because they believed he would go on to a happier place. And when the preacher started chanting and repeating the line, “death is better” …
And the hall responded with amens and affirmations. I swear, I have never been so appalled and frightened since I saw the film “Jesus Camp”!
I used to say that if Christians think afterlife is better than life on earth, then they should proceed to what Frank Zappa called their “necrodestination” with all deliberate speed. The people at this wake and funeral sounded like they really believed it: like they really believed that the brothers and sisters, the wife, the daughters and granddaughters, the sons and grandsons, and all of the collateral relatives – all of these people should be happy that they never get to see this dead guy again. They sounded like they really believed that the dead guy is better off, even happier, never again seeing his relatives, never again tasting food, listening to music, seeing a painting or a picture, holding a grandchild, or even thinking a thought.
Because he accepted Jesus, the dead guy accepted all that? And for what? To go to this place called heaven. And in heaven he does what with eternity? Can you, in your wildest imagining, think of something you could be doing until the end of time that would not eventually bore you? And if you would not be bored after so long, would you still be you?
Yet this is the Christian idea of heaven! And I can’t think of a better description of hell! Death is better than life? Maybe if you have no life. Maybe if you believe life is just a preparation for the end. Maybe if you, like Christians have for centuries, devote your energy to fighting against every human advancement that actually makes life better.
Death is better than life? My advice to Christians is, don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.
"I am so glad that my God is not the God of the High Church or of the Low," said Nightingale. She despised the churches and was an advanced Rationalist.