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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

DEATH & GOD

A couple weeks ago it finally came to me, something I've known all my life, but didn't ever bring to the front of the mind to examine. I find writing these pages to you helps me to understand what I'm thinking, and what I'm looking at seems beyond understanding. First step is that God obviously has different knowledge about death than we have. We think killing another human is bad because God doesn't like it. From present day all the way back to beginnings of civilization 6,000 or so years ago, and all the way back in the hunter-gatherer tribal period that goes way on back, we've had wars that were all about killing for loot. Now we kill for oil corporations, so they can get the loot. Loot has evolved from items of jewelry, silk, anything of value, to corporate profits.


I've questioned why a loving God created a world where we have to kill to live. We raise cattle, pigs and chickens, a lot of times in horrible conditions, for mass-producing hotdogs, sausage, lunchmeat and burgers. When I worked the Stern farm, I named the bull Big Mac. Fast food burgers was the purpose of his life. The purpose of my work was to make truckloads of frozen burgers shipped to fast food joints all over the world to be consumed by people with no regard to how their food tastes.
They have to kill the cattle before they can make burgers of them. The cows and calves and bulls I knew by overseeing their lives, keeping them fed and in good health, would be shipped by truck to stockyards where they stand in shit to thier knees, packed in with thousands of other cattle unable to move, waiting for the walk up the pathway to a sledgehammer in the head.



Lions eat gazelles. Birds eat bugs. Even when we eat lettuce, we've had to kill the plant. This is universal as death itself. Among hunters is the ethic, eat what you kill. So killing to eat is ok. Killing in war for loot is ok. Killing animals is ok. But to get mad at somebody and kill him is not ok. Even to kill somebody for loot is not ok. Whence the divide? Why is one kind of killing not just ok but honored by monuments, statues, songs, history books, patriotic awe? And more personal, man to man, killing gets 12 years in solitary on death row and then execution by one means or another, all of it "right." Convict George Bush for Iraqi dead and American dead? A joke. Not even remotely feasible.



And this is God's creation. The German roundup and killing of European Jews is a great advertisement for atheism, too horrendous to believe God would allow it. But God allowed it. That's just one of the multiple 20th century horrors of war and genocide. One day visiting in the nursing home I saw an old woman strapped to a bed, calling in a chant, "God Help Me," over and over like it was without beginning and without end. I felt tremendous compassion for her, for living beyond the end of her life. I remember thinking, "Sorry, darlin, God can't help you in here." That seemed a little odd to me to be thinking that, but also not, considering Pol Pot, Kosovo, Chechnya, one place and another.



I leave it with free will. God gave us free will and this is what happens. God has to watch in tears. Then I question the tears part. I finally realized for the first time in nearly a lifetime of concern over the question, that God has a very different notion of what death is than we do. When I see the creation based in the natural law of kill to live, I realize God doesn't see death as anything at all. A soul released from the prison of its body? It's like death really is the soul's release from a sluggish old physical form, or young physical form. For the spirit the form is sluggish whatever it is.



During a Civil War battle, God may have seen hundreds, thousands of souls released, each one guided by guardian angels. It has to be that God views death as no more than a change of clothes. God sees our soul as the living beings we are, as the living being a possum is or a fly is or a black-eyed Susan or a fern. Maybe the way God sees us is something like birds in cages. One day the door opens and the bird flies away to the sky. With the physical form is the ego, self-interest, self-preservation, I, me, mine, which we tend to identify as our true selves when it's as mortal as our bodies. The ego, too, gives sluggishness to the physical form, which the mental is part of, causing dysfunctional thinking in an illusion so convincing one doesn't question it but with trepidation.



It's my understanding that the real self within that God knows is that part of us that sees our dreams. Dreams go with the body too. In the time that Jr is drawing close to, that makes him say almost every day, "I'm not gonna make it," this subject stays in my mind wondering what it will be like for him. He's going into it wide open, without expectation, it appears to me. I imagine he's carrying in the back of his mind something from church in childhood having to do with streets of gold, heavenly choirs, such as that, but what does a street made of gold bricks really mean? What does Coleridge's Kubilai Khan mean? Some cultures have believed when we die we become stars in the sky/heaven. I'm about like Jr on this question. My personal preference is to wait and see.

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