Posted by: smstrouse | April 1, 2011

Life After Death: What Are We Here After?

It seems that I will be a lion in my next life. I discovered a website where, after taking a short survey, you can  find out what you will reincarnate as. If you live a virtuous life, according to www.reincarnationstation.com, you’ll come back as a powerful, well-respected creature. Otherwise  – well, think banana slugs. So I was pleased with the outcome of my survey, which said that “only 18% of people will be reincarnated as a higher form of life than you. Remain honorable in this life, and you can expect to be rewarded in your next life.”

Now I don’t know how I feel about the idea of reincarnation. It’s certainly outside the realm of what I was taught about the afterlife. But the times they are a’changing, and perspectives on life after death are a’changing too. Last month’s e-bulletin from ProgressiveChristianity.org was all about ‘the hereafter.’ Good articles. Lots to think about.  You should check them out.

I especially liked Bruce Epperly’s attempt in ‘Everlasting Life: A Progressive Perspective’ to articulate a vision of the afterlife in opposition to “superstitious, supernatural, and shame-based theologies.”  Epperly noted a number of cultural and religious movements that are influencing how we think about the afterlife, such as:

  • the growing acceptance of near-death experiences (even Liz Taylor, for heaven’s sake, described a beautiful, warm, welcoming light in 1961, when she had been pronounced dead after seven minutes with no heartbeat after emergency surgery);
  • the growing recognition of a belief system that can include mysticism and life-affirming images of the afterlife (supposedly over 50% of mainstream Christians have had mystical experiences);
  • the impact of ideas about the afterlife from non-Christian religions (such as karma and reincarnation).

But what I liked best was Epperly’s assertion that we need to be humble about the afterlife. There is just so much we do not know. I was listening to an interview with author Brian Green, talking about string theory, the multiverse, and the possibility of 11 space-time dimensions. It’s mind-boggling!  How does our vision of the hereafter fit into this quantum frontier?  It is truly humbling.

So maybe I’ll be coming back as a lion (are there vegetarian lions?). Or maybe I will be integrated in a new way into the great web of life everlasting. I just don’t know. In all humility I ask: how about you; what’s your take on it; what are we here after?

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