A life musing...about what comes afterwards - Guest Post!

James Preston Reply 7:23 AM
Well here it is! The Guest Blog Post I've been promising you since last week. I asked Cath Jenkin, a prolific Durban writer, to be a Guest on this Blog, and to write whatever she feels! She knows my Blog, and knows its content and where it comes from. So I was keenly interested to see what she would produce. 

Either way, I count myself extremely privileged to have Cath write for this Blog, because not only is she a gifted writer, but she's also an extremely busy one! Writing is literally her life. Cath writes for News24's Parent24, Digikids.co.za, Mail & Guardian Women, her own Blog, and many many more. You can check out a portfolio of her work at the link on her website.

What she has produced is a gem! It may (or may not) come across as slightly controversial to the Christian audience. But I love it! I don't know exactly what Cath believes about God or the afterlife. But having chatted to her fairly extensively, it seems as though she had Christian parents (at the time) and had an introduction to (fairly religious, regimented) church in her early years. After her and her parents had some very unfortunate experiences at the hands of Christians, I don't blame her for her subsequent weariness of the church. But these experiences don't seem to have extinguished her awareness of God. They simply allowed her to remove the boxes of preconceived theological paradigms, and explore the possibility of what God really might be like.

So this Post comes from a fresh new perspective for us Christians. What a beautiful opportunity for Christians like me to see what people like Cath believe both about God, the afterlife, and the "religious community".

You don't have to agree with it. Simply consider the perspective. And give us your thoughts in the comments below. She has said she is completely unafraid of the religious backlash should your thoughts be on those lines.

Her post reminds me of Paul's glorious statement in Romans 2:4...
"not realizing that God's kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?"

Enjoy!

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What about the afterlife? Perhaps we get what we believe in.

It really freaks me out when someone tells me I’m going to hell for something. I’ve had lots of that type of comment thrown at me over the years. Whether it’s because I had a child out of wedlock or have done something that someone else may have considered wrong, in their view. It’s irked me, primarily because - what right does someone have to judge me and, similarly, how could they know I’d end up in hell because of something I do that - to them - is “wrong” in this life? How and why do they believe they get the right and power to make these choices and judgement calls?

The concept of heaven and hell has always interested me. Not in any particularly religious sense but, more vividly because the idea that someone could, definitely and without question, tell me what happens when we die, and then actively prove it for me, seems a little preposterous. Of course, there are numerous tales and stories written by people who claim to know what happens when we die…but those are written by people who are still alive so, I can’t help but take those with a little pinch of salt.

At the same time, if a person wants to believe in these notions, then they are free to. For me, I don’t believe in hell, as a concept, notion or destination. But I do like to think, for a lot of reasons, that there’s an afterlife.

And why am I okay with that idea? I realise it’s primarily a comfort thing. I like to think that my beloved parents, when they died, went somewhere great. Somewhere fantastic, beautiful and scenic. I like to think they met up with our family pets and my cat is now sitting on the couch arm next to my dad, just like she always did. I like to believe that they’ve had quite a few parties and that they’ve danced the family-famous grasshopper a hundred times or more. I like to think they don’t have back problems anymore and that they are no longer feeling concerned about world issues. I hope they do the word puzzle every morning and the crossword every afternoon. They were – and still are to me – far too full of life to be doing anything else but living it up and having fun together. If there is an afterlife, I hope they got the ones they believed in. To me, each person on this planet has a unique life experience that is entirely their own. Why would it be any different after we die?

I wouldn’t mind at all if my folks could do a little detour, pop back into the living world and let me know how it is for them. At least then I’d have some sort of reference point and an idea of what the afterlife is. Sadly though, and this is the fate of us mortals, no matter how much we may wish them back…our loved ones who die don’t come back.

Most of all, I think, a little too much societal energy is placed on the idea of an afterlife. The concept that how good or how bad we are during our living days, will determine what happens to us when we die, is also a little irksome. Why do we place so much focus on “being good” for “the next life” that we forget to “be good” and simply enjoy the days of this life?

I’ve seen it happen a few too many times for it to not be annoying. The brigade of “if you do that, you’re evil and going to hell” has probably made me grit my teeth a few too many times and that’s possibly why I get irritated. But, when I see someone wasting a perfectly good sunny day, because they think they should be indoors doing what someone else told them to do, I always want to ask if they really feel that they’re on the right path, for themselves. The concepts of control and fear do, of course, come into play. Tell a three year old that they’ll get a time-out if they steal a biscuit and they will probably not steal the biscuit. But, tell an adult that they’re going to hell if they have a baby without getting married - how is that okay? The thing about consequences is, in parenting, you have to prove that you can and will follow through on them.

In essence, I cannot say for certain if there’s an afterlife. If there is, that’s cool - I’d like something to look forward to, after all. But, most of all, why would anyone want to live this life with an aim that’s directed at the next one? Do the best that you can in this life you have now and enjoy this life you have, for the sun is shining and, you know, it’s a damn fine day to soak up some rays.

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What do YOU believe about the afterlife?

Maybe you're a Christian. What do you think about modern Christianity's emphasis on hell in its message?

Share your thoughts below...

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