Additionally, I've also been increasingly put off by heaven and hell. The Jews don't/didn't believe in them, so why is Christianity so wrapped up in them? Punishment/Reward. (Frankly the church has
That's where The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery comes in. No religious talk in this book. But what it comes down to is summed up at the end.
"It's as if those strains of music created a sort of interlude in time, something suspended, an elsewhere that had come to us, an always within never.I love this. This is my new favorite notion of heaven. The moments in this life of Beauty. Whether that Beauty is created through art, music, human interaction... but it takes noticing, it takes work and creation. And there, there, is another wonderful notion to me... creation. I like to believe that's how we are created in God image, because we have the ability, the desire to create. I think, when we remove afterlife, we focus on this life in a new way.
Yes, that's it, an always within never... Because from now on, for you, I'll be searching for those moments of always within never.
Beauty, in this world."
|both covers are simply marvelous|
Our emphasis doesn't need to be selfish and hedonistic just because we focus on life. We can (should?) think about quality of life, quality of life for others (plants, animals, future generations)... our collective lives, our communities.
Here comes the other random book that has influenced these thoughts: Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente. No religion here either, but some wild (to me) Russian Folklore featuring Koshi the Deathless. He's also known as the Tzar of Life who is in constant war with the Tzar of Death dividing the world into domains separated by a hairsbreadth. Their hold is all consuming, tenuous, bloody, painful. There are eggs, and death, and resurrection, and keys, love, daughters, betrayal and it's all recycled, twisted like a pretzel and kept from the hungry so that the snake may eat its tail. But how tenuous this life is while the only sure thing is our death.
So how do we come to terms with death? Our inevitable death.
Hell, I don't know. But I think it's somewhere in here, in valuing life, creating and appreciating Beauty, finding those moments of always within never -- that is our eternal life, creating heaven here, now, in this life. Perhaps then, we can go graciously into death when that time comes, knowing the consequences of our life and choices are eternal in the life still living.