This being Sunday, I thought it fitting and proper to reflect on Anna Herrington's recent picture/post that dealt with death and the proper way to offer condolences. She thought "Congratulations!" or "It's her day!" sounded much more fun and celebratory than "gone to be with the Lord" or "she's with Jesus now". Around here one might also hear “she's gone to her reward.”

While offering congratulations may be deemed appropriate among Christians of a certain stripe, it strikes me it would be much less well-received in other quarters. Unless, of course, one meant to convey the message that at least the departed was free from the troubles of this world.

I certainly understand the desire to believe in an afterlife where we will rejoin family and friends who've passed on … join them for eternity in a place free from the troubles of this world. Still, I find the cocksure attitude evinced by some about what happens after death to be more than a bit off-putting.

Seems to me this world might be a little less troublesome if people chose to live as if this was it, and tried to make the best of the here and now. Some would, of course, say quite the opposite, to which I'm compelled to point out that promises of streets paved with gold or 72 virgins in the afterlife haven't done all that much to achieve the desired effect either.

Seems to me that regardless of what faith one claims or doesn't claim, the test of one's morality and worth as a human being is how well one follows the most fundamental tenet of every faith – do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Or as an old Cherokee saying puts it even more simply, “Walk in a good way.”

Most people of faith would probably agree with that proposition, but strenuously disagree with my contention about the afterlife. To them I say, look to your Good Book, to Ecclesiastes, a book that holds what some say is the wisdom of Solomon. Being without much wisdom myself, I once took the liberty of interpreting those words.

So Sayeth the Sage

Vanity ... vanity ... sayeth the sage

Lamenting the human stain

All a man's labors will come to naught

All his striving is in vain

The sun rises up ... the sun goes down

The wind blows both south and north

All is a circle within a design

Rivers return to their source

There is a season to everything

A time to rend and to sew

A time to weep … a time to laugh

A time to stay … and to go

What came before will come again

What was done will be undone and done

All things are born of a turn of the wheel

There is nothing new under the sun

Getting and gaining are but fleeting joys

Greed is a bottomless pit

He who digs himself a gaping hole

Most surely will fall into it

Love like a viper seduces with fruit

Trapping us with the first taste

Pursuing past pleasure till we are consumed

We lose to what we've laid waste

Wisdom and knowledge are worthy pursuits

But of what you know nothing about

Better be silent and be thought a fool

Than speak and remove any doubt

There's no escaping … all things must end

That may be life’s only truth

Health, hope and honor will fade in time

Flown like the sweet bird of youth

A man is born … a man will die

This is an inviolate rule

Riches and wisdom are no lenitive

The wise man dies same as the fool

Eat, drink and be merry for life is short

Who knows what lies beyond grave?

Some will seek solace in some afterlife

But this life may be all we have

Vanity ... vanity ... sayeth the sage

All of our striving is in vain

Ashes to ashes … dust to dust

The Earth is all that remains

©2004 Tom Cordle

Views: 187

Comment by Anna Herrington on December 17, 2017 at 5:27pm

What a nice surprise to come home and read this! 

Like you, I struggle with anyone who says they *know* anything about what happens or not after their own death, regardless of experience or religious orientation or atheists' sureties - those who say we're only recycled dust and no more to those who align with reincarnation ideas to everything in-between.

I find that personal surety of 'I know,' with this topic - that so often must be shoved on anyone who thinks at all differently - of course with ultimate confidence and rigidity - different than anyone just believing this or that or not  - have at it, folks, believe or not whatever but try to say you *know* and you've lost validity, personally. Such arrogance. ...... imho.

I personally agree it ought not matter at all whatever happens. It's about living while living, imho.

'Do unto others as you would have them do unto you," as cultures around the world have said for millennia and still say in varying ways.

I still think "Congratulations!" highly unusual as a beloved one has died condolence, for my own experience, but to add a bit of celebration to "You've made it through this life and now it's ALL over!" kind of interesting and not bad a perspective to have.

I just have scraps of music lists stashed here and there I would like played at my funeral.

If it doesn't happen, I have a feeling I won't care.

.... but I don't *know* that...   ; )

Comment by Ben Sen on December 17, 2017 at 6:47pm

Good to see you're still around ad cogitating on the great issues, of which there is no greater than death.

Comment by Tom Cordle on December 17, 2017 at 6:59pm

Thanks for that delightful comment. I'm with you on the music. When I go, I hope whoever is left of my family and friends will get together and have a party and play some music, and it's not too much and too egotistical of me to hope for, I hope maybe somebody might play one of my songs, though lord knows I'd have a hard time deciding which one I'd like them to pick.

Comment by Tom Cordle on December 17, 2017 at 7:01pm

Good to hear from you again after all this time. You will always remind me of the fact that two people can get off to a rocky start, but still find common ground, if both have open minds and open hearts.

Comment by koshersalaami on December 17, 2017 at 9:16pm

Jews don't pay much attention to afterlife. We have a Heaven concept but we don't think about it much. For us, life is the main event. It is not Death Prep. Congratulating on death would not make sense in Judaism. 

Comment by Tom Cordle on December 17, 2017 at 10:07pm

You may recall that after a post and commentary of mine back in the Open Salon days, you said I sounded like I was Jewish; I took that as high praise, especially coming from you.

Comment by Maui Surfer on December 17, 2017 at 10:41pm

It is quite fascinating Tom, for sure when we die our energy moves back out into the Universe. The only question is in what form? Is it just atomic, just a little burst of atoms or smaller particles that push away from gravity, or, do we somehow retain some form of "us" as that energy moves along. For a long time, knowing the Bible version didn't seem to make a whole lot of sense, I used to just laugh it off. Hawaiians have their own folklore too, but, that seemed more designed to store knowledge in a paperless society, then, as we try and pay attention to what the folks at CERN, etc. are up to, it seems there is a lot more going on. Are there 11 dimensions? Are some so tiny? What could that mean? Does gravity leak over from one of them into ours? And why can we now know for sure that one particle can absolutely be in two places at once? All this makes you wonder just how much was known in Antiquity ... Carl Sagan said if not for the Christians sacking the Library at Alexandria we would have moved on out into space a long time ago ... and he was one smart fellow.

Comment by marilyn sands on December 17, 2017 at 10:59pm

I'd like to hear some of your old songs once again...2018? 

Comment by koshersalaami on December 17, 2017 at 11:58pm


I recall. Every time you came up with another of your religious views, I thought and said Uh, Tom, we also believe that. What surprises me is that it's still happening. I don't know why you're reaching the same conclusions independently. 

I get that it sometimes happens. I grew up Jewish but there was a lot I didn't understand about how Judaism worked philosophically. My wife wasn't Jewish when we got married and I wanted to raise Jewish kids, and she told me she could never be ethnically Jewish so we had to approach this religiously, which forced me to learn more about Judaism as a religion. As I did, I became more glad I was born here. 

I've done this in other fields, reinventing the wheel. Being in business, I came up with my own observations about how economies work. I eventually found out that an actual economist reached the same conclusions way before I did and in a lot more detail. His name is John Maynard Keynes. 

Comment by Steel Breeze on December 18, 2017 at 8:35am

dust in the wind...


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