Life and Death Distinctions

In these days of tweets, sound bites and status updates, our culture is often lacking in nuance, fine lines and distinctions. Sometimes these missing distinctions can make all the difference.

Take death, for instance.

I read an interview today with a modern practitioner of Wicca, Patti Wigington, who said “In her backyard, Wigington and six other local women who make up her coven will stand in a circle, each holding a lit candle dedicated to a dead ancestor. They will offer an invocation in each direction of the four winds. They will build an altar upon which they will offer their deceased ancestors gifts of food and wine and “celebrate the coming of the dark half of the year… and do a ritual that honors death.” When she gets to the part about death, Wigington, a middle-aged mother of three, stops for moment in her explanation of a typical Samhain ritual. “Look,” she says, “I know some people are freaked out by death. But death is part of the life cycle. This time of year we say farewell to the garden, to the crops and to our ancestors. We welcome and celebrate the coming of the dark half of the year. It’s at this time of year we communicate with the spirit world and we honor the spirit world,”

Sounds kind of beautiful, doesn’t it?

But, here’s the problem. Death is not beautiful.

Have you seen death up close? Maggots, fungus, sickening grays, nauseating greens, flesh-eating beetles, decay, rot. To call death beautiful is Orwellian doublespeak like Jews lining up for the showers in Nazi Germany or like mothers serving children paper cups full of Kool-aid in Jonestown. It’s an ancient lie recycled every generation in some false religion or regime or cult or lifestyle. Although death is not the most pleasant thing to think about, it is inevitable and there is no escaping it. When it comes to the medical bills and the expenses, this is probably the last thing that you want to think about, but it has to be done. Thanks to sites like www.moneyexpert.com, this has been made a lot easier, especially with life insurance, which will help to cover any costs regarding burial costs. If you don’t have the money, you may find that you will struggle, but there is always a solution to any problem.

Herein lies the difference between the Wiccan worldview and the Christian. Christians know that death is not a part of life. We don’t honor death with rituals. We don’t view death as part of “the life cycle”. This may sound strange coming from a people who regularly sing about shed blood, crucifixion and the grave but that’s why it’s important to dig deeper and not read just the headlines.

Jesus is life. He is the source of all life. He was present at creation. Creation was beautiful and good. Death entered the world when humans chose sin rather than life. Death continues to work in us as long as we continue to choose sin.

There is a life cycle in creation but we don’t worship creation, we worship the Creator. The message written into the cycle of seasons is NOT that death is good but that Christ has overcome death.

Death is the enemy. Life is the goal – eternal life with the author of life, the creator of life, the originator of truth.

Jesus faced death down so He could overcome it. He didn’t embrace it – read about the hours in Gethsemane – He sweated it out, He pleaded for another path – He chose to face death through a supreme act of will, of obedience, of bravery and faith – because it was the only way to free us from its power.

Jesus didn’t embrace death or introduce rituals to honor it. He fought it with His life. He defeated it through the power of the Most High God. He doesn’t have a dark side. He is life and light. To choose Jesus is to reject death and darkness. Life does not come from death – life comes from life and the living don’t celebrate death, if you’re wanting to celebrate the life of a lost one with the best possible funeral you could give them, investing in life insurance early on for just this one need can be reason enough, look into sites like PolicyMe and more to make sure to review the best policies for you.

Christians don’t fear earthly death because Jesus became the door for us from this life to the next. But we don’t embrace death; we embrace the source of all life.

Don’t fall for the beautiful lie. The only reason to dance in the face of death is not to welcome it but because it has been overcome.

Get in on the conversation

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

15 Comments

    The Conversation

  1. Anonymous says:

    “The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” 1 Corinthians 15:26

    Great post, thank you. D’Lynne

  2. You make excellent points! Thanks for helping us draw yet another vital distinction between truth and falsehood.

  3. Thank you, Betsy. Always trying to go deeper myself. Fight the good fight with the weapons of love and truth.

  4. Avalon says:

    I used to be there… embracing death. I like to tell people that the ultimate spritual death for me was when I died with Christ. And that is BECAUSE he overcame death, as you so beautifully illustrate here. Now, I am alive with Christ and that has made all the difference in the world, in my life.

  5. Avalon, I just read your post on Betsy’s blog. I would say “God bless you” but I see He already has by freeing you from the occult. Embrace your freedom and embrace life! You are a new and beautiful creation! Nice to have you along for the final battle, sister!

  6. Dorothy P says:

    Thank you for a thoughtful post, Lori. As a person raised in England, I just don’t get the American festival of Halloween. It’s spooky and nasty and, to me, celebrates all that I find unhealthy. Gee, in Wal-Mart this year we sold plastic swords with fake blood in the handle that the kids could release to drip down the blade. Ugh!! Let’s have Halloween. But let it be a Hallowed Evening, to celebrate the life of the Saints.

  7. Cheri says:

    Lori, another Masterpiece! Thank you for being His voice in our midst.

    When my mom died, we were homeschooling, so the kids were with me at her bedside. She had cancer and died at home under hospice care. It was a beautiful way for them to understand that she was stepping from our world into eternity with Jesus.

    I love your blog!

    Cheri

  8. Anonymous says:

    “Have you seen death up close? Maggots, fungus, sickening grays, nauseating greens, flesh-eating beetles, decay, rot.”

    God, I think you will agree, is omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent. Thus, there is no place God is not. Truly this means God is in the maggots, the dirt and the flesh-eating beetles and it is only your perception of death as negative that prevents you from seeing God even here. The beetle, maggots and fungi all live thanks to the death of another. It is most definitely the work of God. Can you say his work is this not a form of beauty?

    “There is a life cycle in creation but we don’t worship creation, we worship the Creator.”

    It is not possible to worship the Creator without also worshiping creation. By separating the creation from the created, you lose sight of God by grouping the universe into exclusive groups; places where God is and isn’t. This is the core of suffering and betrays the schism of duality within.

    Thank you for your time and please understand that I am not a practitioner of Wicca and mean no disrespect to the author nor any of the visitors to this site. Please accept my words in the spirit they are intended.

  9. Thank you for visiting, Anonymous. I appreciate you taking the time to comment but I must differ with you here. The idea you express is more akin to pantheism: “Pantheism (Greek: πάν (pan) = all and θεός (theos) = God, literally “God is all” -ism) is the view that everything is part of an all-encompassing immanent God and that the Universe (Nature) and God are equivalent. Pantheism promotes the idea that God is better understood as an abstract principle representing natural law, existence, and the Universe (the sum total of all that was, is and shall be), rather than as an anthropomorphic entity.[1] Pantheists do not believe in a personal god; rather, they refer to nature or the universe as God. Pantheism is a metaphysical and religious position. Broadly defined it is the view that (1) “God is everything and everything is God … the world is either identical with God or in some way a self-expression of his nature” (Owen 1971: 74). Similarly, it is the view that (2) everything that exists constitutes a “unity” and this all-inclusive unity is in some sense divine.” God reveals His nature through creation but He is not creation. We do worship Him, not what He has created. I hope you’ll come by again.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Hi Lori,
    Thank you for such a thoughtful reply. I didn’t know that the concept had a name, but yes, that sums it up nicely. In fact I would go so far as to say that this is the basic problem with religions, that they don’t think of the world in this way. Easier to make divide the world into those that have the “truth” and those that do not.

    So what to do with a view of the world where everyone and everything is God? How to decide on a course of action and behaviour that glorifies and respects God when rot and filth could also be said to be ‘God’? Which brings us to the topic of this post which was Wiccians celebrating death and in a more round about way, every other religion that isn’t yours. (or mine)

    How do we; not just get along with people whose faith we disagree with and feel are actually wrong, but accept them truly and deeply. Jesus taught us to turn the other cheek and forgive those who trespass against us. Surely this qualifies.

    It’s the question I put a lot of personal effort into understanding. Seeing that God is truly everywhere and everything is the only answer I can see. These people who worship in other ways I do not understand are still worshiping God. I may not understand it and it may seem counter intuitive to me but that has more to do with my upbringing than the literal truth of the bible. Indeed, reading my Bible has lead me to a deeper understanding of exactly this. Don’t miss the actual truth for the words describing the truth. The Truth is between the words.

    “Anonymous said”

  11. Joe Crowley says:

    Hello Anonymous. I disagree with you, and hope that you give this some thought. God, and His attributes are revealed through creation, but God is God, and the creation is not. Also the Truth is in the words, not between them. Be careful not to exceed that which is written by reading between them. Also the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. May these words come to light for you!

  12. Thank you, Joe. You said that really well.

    Anonymous, It sounds as though you are very compassionate and care about people deeply. You have no desire to judge which is good. However, I encourage you to read through one of the gospels – Matthew or Mark – and read Jesus’ words. If there was nothing to save us from, He wouldn’t have had to die. His death was necessary to reconcile us to God because our sinful nature separated us from Him and earns us eternal separation. We aren’t hurting people by informing them of this truth anymore than we’d be hurting them by informing them that their hair was on fire. The gospel is good news for people who understand the bad news – we cannot save ourselves through our own efforts. Keep searching, Anonymous! Keep talking and asking!

  13. Anonymous says:

    I hear you both and understand your point. Joe, you must be (or maybe you should be) a preacher for the words flowed very smoothly in your entry. Let me use this one as a starting point:

    “For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever.”

    I see your point clearly and would like to clarify my position, namely that when I say “to see God everyplace” I do not mean to worship everyplace as if everyplace (or thing) was God. Let’s use Moses and the golden calf to illustrate the point – surely God was in the golden calf but the Israelites where worshiping the gold and the physical object, not God within. This is what you describe as “exchanging the Truth of God for a lie” On the other hand, if we look at a church, the statue of Jesus is not worshipped, instead it is a sort of metaphysical marker to look beyond the mere statue, (be it gold, plaster or whathaveyou) and see the God it represents. And it is that that we worship, the true meaning of God as represented by the statue.

    This is what I mean when I refer to the omnipresent nature of God. He is everywhere and is everything, though many people mix up the sign post with the actuality of God. This is what leads people to judge others and mistakenly think that there is a separation between God and his creation.

    If you can experience deeply and personally, The Truth it’s clearer than clear that we are all one and that everything is God, it simply becomes a matter of sleep and wakefulness. For example, if I see and judge someone’s behaviour as “sinful”, I could call him a sinner and condemn him. (Indeed, even judging his actions as a sin, I’ve already done that.) Or I could see him as asleep to his Godly nature. Meaning that he has not experienced God and is making bad (aka; his own) choices.

    Which, if I follow my thoughts, leads to forgiveness. How can we forgive? Only by realizing that this person “knows not what they do”. It’s easy to forgive a child because of this exact reason. We all need to look inside and realise that without a direct experience with God, we’re just children who know no better.

    “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” – John 20:29

    To Lori, I do read the bible. (I’m actually re-reading the book of Job right now) And I agree with your post. If I may be so bold; I feel Jesus was here to save us from ourselves, specifically, from our own ignorance of God. I mean that literally. It’s only our ignorance of God that separates us from him as he is everyplace.

    Hmm, that was a bit of a rant, sorry. You’re all very good conversationalists.. or blog posters…. or whatever we are doing here. I appreciate and value your words and thank you for sharing.

    “Anonymous said”

  14. Thanks for coming back, Anonymous. Keep up your search. God is with you in it.