Most theologies, be they Christian or otherwise, are established to deal with death, pain, and the business of living. We do our best to avoid death and yet, knowing that we will one day succumb to it we construct a hereafter that comforts our souls. We do this even though we have no proof of what a “heaven” is supposed to be. We live as if we will live forever and will one day visit the stalwarts of faith and family we have learned to love. Some of us are convinced of this.
I am currently reading “Socrates Cafe”, a stimulating book. Within it I found the following quote by Walter Kaufmann that got me to thinking. Perhaps it will jar your thoughts a bit as well.
“Let people who do not know what to do with themselves in this life, but fritter away their time, hope for eternal life. If one lives intensely, the time comes when sleep seems bliss. If one loves intensely, the time comes when death seems bliss. The life I want is a life I could not endure in eternity. It is a life of love and intensity, suffering and creation, that makes life worthwhile and death welcome. There is no other life I should prefer. Neither should I like not to die. As one deserves a good night’s sleep, one also deserves to die, Why should I hope to wake again? To do what I have not done in the time I’ve had? All of us have so much more time than we use well. How many hours in a life are spent in a way of which one might be proud, looking back? For most of us death does not come soon enough. Lives are spoiled and made rotten by the sense that death is distant and irrelevant. Not only can love be deepened and made more intense and impassioned by the expectation of impending death; all of life is enriched by it. Why deceive myself to the last moment, and hungrily devour sights, sounds, and smells only when it is almost too late? In our treatment of others, too, it is well to remember that they will die: it makes for greater humanity.”