I've been reading and reflecting a lot lately. It's something I'll never stop doing as long as I am mentally capable.
My life has been a steady process of questioning and learning that was briefly interrupted by my stint in Armstrongism, but even then, questions I had to sublimate kept creeping into my mind. Only the fear of damnation so insidiously planted into my consciousness kept me pushing those thoughts and questions to the back of my mind.
It has been a process of steady growth from the time I left WCG in my early forties. I first realized that the "church" was a farce as it existed under Armstrong, but I was still sure that I was a bona fide part of the "body of Christ" and I was determined to remain there. I didn't seek out a new COG, intent on deciding for myself what the real truth had to be.
I studied and listened widely, delving into reincarnation and fundamental as well as non-fundamental christianity, even very briefly into Scientology. I saw that the old legalism was pure nonsense and soon abandoned sabbaths, holy days, clean and unclean meats, etc., yet slowly and stumblingly. It took many years before I could enjoy a luscious lobster tail, crab legs or butterfly shrimp and fry up a pan of crisp bacon for a blt.
The last thing to be seriously questioned in my mind was survival after death. I suspect I'll have questions on that as long as I live. Modern media is very adept at keeping the old superstitions and beliefs alive and well. TV channels are "alive" with programs about the supernatural, NDEs, and psychic channeling. All the editing and selection makes it all very persuasive and comforting. It reminds one of the machinations of "cold reading."
The more I delve into it, the more I find that NDE experiences aren't as cut and dried as they are made to appear after all the selection and editing. I'm sure the same goes into programs about ghosts, etc.
So, this is another area where agnosticism, at least for the present, comes into play.
I'd like to believe that I will survive past the moment of my death and that I'll be met by people I've loved on "the other side." I also liked to believe at one time that a glorious "kingdom of god" was just a few years down the road. I was going to be a king and/or priest of that kingdom! What a blessing for the world that that never materialized! Can you imagine a world under the control of fanatics like we once were? The Third Reich would have looked like a utopia!
I honestly don't know what to believe in this area of after-death survival. I'm just not going to worry about it, any more than Mark Twain did. He commented that the billions of years before his existence were of no inconvenience to him, and he didn't expect ceasing to exist to be an inconvenience either.
If I continue on in some state in some other dimension, great. If not, why worry about it? Like George Burns, I love life so much I'd like to do it again (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mh6saG57kPE&feature=related ).
Will I get the chance?
Is there reincarnation?
I don't know. If this is all there is, I'm determined to make the most of the few years or months I have left. I turned 77 in the wee hours of last Monday. Is my mother waiting to greet me on the "other side?"
Maybe. Maybe not.
In any case, I'm damn lucky to be here at all. One little sperm among billions and trillions my father produced united with one little egg my mother produced at the opertune time of the month and I weathered all possible hazards before and after my birth to make it to the point I occupy at the present as the unique entity I am.
Some people like who I am. Most don't particularly care. The vast majority of other humans aren't even aware of my inconsequential existence. I'm an insignificant member of a not-so-significant species on a rather insignifant piece of rock, air and water in the suburbian fringes of a run-of-the-mill galaxy that is pretty much a grain of sand among the billions of other galaxies and who know's what else we haven't discovered or surmised yet. When one looks at it that way, humility comes a little easier.
If I cease to exist some day soon, I really don't think it's going to be a catastrophe to the universe.
Or, to me.