Maybe it’s the Rapture that wasn’t, or the lobsters we murdered last week in celebration of my mom’s birthday. Either way, I’ve been pondering a lot of life’s bigger questions lately. I’m no theologian, and my spiritual journey thus far has been bedeviled (pardon the pun) by detours and u-turns galore. Trying to figure out answers to the mysteries of the universe is maddening work!
Just this morning I had an interesting, hourlong phone conversation with a friend about this stuff. She’s a hardcore Catholic and I’m…well, not…but really, we came to a lot of the same conclusions. Truth is, we’re both just as confused as ever.
Take the lobsters. Moments before my mom sent them to their deaths by plunging them into a pot of boiling water, I said something along the lines of, “At least they’ll be in a better place soon.” Meaning some life-after-death spiritual realm, and not my stomach (though there was that, too). My dad replied that once the lobsters were dead, they would simply be dead. This surprised me, as my father firmly believes in the existence of God, Heaven and Hell.
“So, people have souls but animals don’t?” I asked.
“That’s right,” he said.
“How can that be so?” I wasn’t being argumentative…I’m just genuinely interested in these things.
“Animals are lesser life forms. They were created to serve man, or for some other purpose.”
“What about mosquitoes?”
I thought I had stumped him with that one, but without hesitating, he answered, “They exist to feed bats.”
I resisted the temptation to ask why bats existed, because I had a feeling the conversation could have continued, back and forth like that, all night long. Which would have been okay, I suppose. I find these questions fascinating – and yet, as I’ve stated, infuriatingly unanswerable. Or rather, for me at least, infuriatingly unknowable, as there are always people who have answers that suit their beliefs. And that’s fine, of course.
I believe in ghosts. I believe in some form of the afterlife. Whether it’s Heaven or Hell or some other less-defined spiritual plane, I can’t be sure. But, shouldn’t it exist for all? Lobsters think (maybe not like we do) and breathe. They move. They exist. Why should their light just fade out once they die, while ours continues to shine? And, here’s something that really bothers me:
Why are there no dinosaur ghosts?!
Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad there aren’t. People get freaked out enough seeing the disembodied spirits of old men and women in period dress. Can you imagine if you were walking along one night and saw the ghost of a fifty-foot-tall Tyrannosaurus Rex lumbering your way?? That’d be enough to stop your heart.
But why aren’t there?
My dad would say dinosaurs were created for some other purpose (though it can’t be to serve man, since man didn’t exist then) and weren’t intellectually developed enough to have souls. I looked this question up online, and a lot of people say dinosaurs existed so long ago their energy has already evaporated, which also explains the lack of woolly mammoth and sabertooth tiger and Neanderthal ghosts. Or that, if reincarnation is real, all the dinosaurs have already long ago been reborn as other creatures. Or that they didn’t form attachments to man (as dogs and cats do, and there are many reports of dog and cat ghosts) and, therefore, have no reason (or ability) to manifest themselves as apparitions. There’s even one theory that states, because the fossil of a plesiosaur was found in Loch Ness, all those sightings of the Loch Ness Monster could, in fact, be the ghost of this dinosaur – explaining the lack of any other hard evidence of the creature’s existence.
See what I mean? Answers galore, and yet, no real answers.
And then there’s all this business about the Rapture. Somehow, somebody manipulated the Bible’s text into meaning one year equaled one thousand and that the end of the world was going to occur on May 21, 2011. The media grabbed hold of this story and Facebook was awash with “have you been Raptured yet” status updates throughout the day. I was going to resist, but ended up posting a video of Blondie’s “Rapture” because it kind of started feeling like one big party (where a man from Mars eatin’ cars and eatin’ bars would be really groovy). I mean, nobody really believed it was going to happen, right? But then I heard about this California preacher named Harold Camping and his followers who did believe, and set about the business of spreading the word. Some folks apparently even maxed out their credit cards because bill collectors would have a hell of a time coming after them once they’d been raptured, capisce? This Camping guy was astounded when the world went on with its regularly scheduled program, and holed up for a couple of days before emerging to announce that the real rapture will now take place on October 21st, and that last Saturday was “an invisible judgment day.” Meaning, God has already determined our fate, but the results won’t be announced for five months. It’s like watching some reality television series in which there has already been a winner, but we won’t find out who that is until the finale airs. Think of October 21st as the Mother Of All Results Shows.
I have a question.
If we’ve already been judged and our fates are locked in, what’s to keep us on the straight and narrow now? It no longer matters, right? I might as well loot, pillage and plunder to my heart’s content, since the decision has already been made. While I’m at it, I’m going to take candy from a baby and trip an old lady or two trying to cross the street. Ain’t nobody left to impress, after all.
True believers will say May 21st did bring about cataclysmic disaster. A volcano erupted in Iceland. There were freak hailstorms and tornado outbreaks across the U.S. People were killed unexpectedly (I imagine a few of them, in their final moments, believed the Rapture really was occurring). Skeptics will talk about tectonic plates shifting and low pressure systems where cold air collides with warm air to spawn funnel clouds and say that freak accidents happen everyday. Who’s right? Who’s wrong? Both of them? Neither?
I hope you don’t take me seriously, or are offended by anything I’ve written. I remain openminded about everything – pondering the big questions keeps the ol’ brain active, if nothing else. Religion, philosophy, science, and nature – they all fascinate me. And I believe they can all coexist.
I just wish the answers weren’t so hard to come by.