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The Dead Are Still Alive

by Bob on Monday, 20 August 2007 Comments
Every day we are assaulted with news of death. People die in natural disasters, in accidents, in wars and terrorist attacks to say nothing of sickness and old age. Added to this are the graphic images of violence and death scenes with which movies and TV shows are filled. Unnecessary deaths, accidental deaths, tragic deaths incite us to sorrow and compassion for those they leave behind. The deaths of violent criminals, especially during the commission of their crimes, fills us with righteous satisfaction. They are getting what they deserve.

The dead are not forgotten. They live on in our memories. But is that the only way they live on? To Christians, in fact, to almost anyone with religious beliefs, the dead are not really dead. They have only passed on to another life. It is satisfying to know that our loved ones are now enjoying the reward for their good deeds. It is satisfying to know that those who unjustly stole and terrorized, murdered and maimed are finally getting the punishment they justly deserve.

Whenever I see in a movie the death of a “good” person, I don’t see only the image of someone taking his or her last breath. In my mind’s eye I see a soul leaving that body being received into everlasting life and I am glad for that happy ending. So many images can come to mind when my imagination is wide awake and creative: a welcoming committee of relatives and friends, the queuing of souls at heaven’s gate when many die at once waiting to pass through the custom formalities. I never see anyone dressed in white sitting on a cloud playing a harp singing hymns. To me that would be a terribly boring existence.

Witnessing on the screen the violent death of a violent criminal, a totally different set of images fills my mind: the poor trembling, terrified man or woman standing before the judge without the benefit of any defense lawyers, the demons waiting in the wings to carry out the sentence. But to be perfectly honest, I am filled with pity more than anything else. Here is someone who has also loved and done good at times, someone who in a moment of weakness or erroneous motivation started down the wrong path, someone perhaps filled with remorse and regret who became trapped in a web that seemed impossible to escape from. Now he or she is standing before a just judge who cannot be bribed, but who also proclaims himself to be a Merciful Father. Whether it is a petty thief, a mobster, a terrorist or even a murderous monster like Hitler, Stalin, Saddam Hussein, Genghis Khan or Count Dracula, each one deserves punishment for whatever evils they are responsible for, but I cannot help hoping that the Just and Merciful Judge when their debts have been paid will eventually allow them to sneak through a back door into some lower part of heaven.

Someday I am going to die. My whole life up to now has been one adventure after another. I am looking forward to the new adventures waiting for me on the other side. It is my fondest hope, however, that that day is still far off in the future.

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