DEATH & RESURRECTION

CemeteryHalloween, at least in part, originally was a ceremony for the dead, and in the Christian context an interval to honour or pray for those who had died but were still parked, so to speak, in Purgatory, awaiting their eventual ascent to heaven. It was, and still is, underneath the costumery and fun, a time to think of the dead.

PurgatoryDeath may be the only taboo left in the modern world. We cosmetize to delay its inevitable advent. Botox and surgery are our apotropaic — our effort to ward off carnal dissolution. But other eras were not so skittish about death.

Connoisseurs of death can do no better than to read and read again the great 17th-century rhapsody of Sir Thomas Browne, known as Urne-Burial or Discourse of the Sepulchral Urns lately found in Norfolk. It is a soaring meditation on how humans have sought to cheat oblivion, to secure themselves against time, by the manner and scale of their memorials. The Pyramids of Egypt are the most monumental. And every common headstone is but a poor man’s pyramid.

ecclesiastes12_8Browne scoffs at all attempts: “But all was vanity, feeding the wind and folly. The Egyptian mummies, which Cambyses or time hath spared, avarice now consumeth. Mummy is become merchandise, Mizraim cures wounds and Pharoh is sold for balsams.” (By Browne’s time, the use of “mummy” as a drug was common, and there was a traffic in Egyptian mummies to Europe’s apothecaries.)

He mocks the Emperors who sought to have their names live forever: “There is no antidote against the opium of time … our fathers find their graves in our short memories … Generations pass while some trees stand, and old families last not three oaks.”

John Donne, a Church of England cleric whose works appeared in the early 17th century, was fascinated by the carnal sharing between the dominions of Eros (love) and Thanatos (death). Love’s urgency is seen as a flight from Death.

Perhaps the greatest funeral oration ever given was Donne’s commentary on the text of Psalms 68:20, “Unto God, the Lord, belong the issues of death.” It is an obsessive, morbid-seeming, up-close mediation on the physical Psalm68_19-20decay attendant on death. And what is even more remarkable was that Donne rose from his own sickbed to preach it at Whitehall on the first Friday of Lent in 1630 — in essence, Donne preaching his own funeral sermon: “For this whole World is but a Universall Churchyard, but our common grave and the life and motion of the greatest persons in it, is but the shaking of buried bodies in their graves by an Earthquake. That which we call life is but Hebdomada mortium, a week of death…”

As if in preparation for that sermon, he placed himself in his coffin, wrapped in a winding sheet. Donne was a genius of the erotic in his early life, and a genius of dissolution and decay in his later. The phrase that everyone knows of Donne, unearthed for a title by Hemmingway, is “for whom the bell tolls.” That was, of course, a funeral bell.

In the 17th century, the grave and sex were verbally akin, the most common pun being “to die” signifying both the end of life and sexual climax. In Andrew Marvell’s famous “To His Coy Mistress,” the poet eerily woos the lady to “enjoy” while she can, for after death “then worms shall try / That long preserv’d virginity / And your quaint honour turn to dust / And into ashes all my lust / The grave’s a fine and private place / But none I think do there embrace.”

Shakespeare, naturally, is another who never flinched. Romeo and Juliet is really a gothic love story, told in the shadow of death. Measure for Measure has the brutal soliloquy on the terror of death, from Portia’s imprisoned brother: “But to die, and goe we know not where / To lie in cold obstruction and to rot / This sensible warm motion to become / A kneaded clod.”

So much of what is memorable in language about death comes from this period in history, when brilliant, word-mad minds, in full intellectual fever, sought in language a means to state their fears in order, partially, to quell them.

But if you should want some lift from these dark and chilling ruminations, there is one 20th century poem by Wallace Stevens that has a, let us say, most pleasant tone, his “Sunday Morning.” For Stevens, “death is the mother of beauty; hence from her, alone / shall come fulfillment to our dreams / and our desires.”zKeSq

Happy grey grim Halloween, everyone.

Halloween

Reprinted from THE NATIONAL POST

Rex Murphy: Your quaint honour turn to dust

As a young kid, I loved Halloween in my neighbourhood of Verdun, a poor English suburb of French Montreal. The last Time I went to a Halloween Costume Party was 40 years ago and I went as Father Time.

My Vision and Understanding of Death

There is a morbid fascination by this generation for Zombies, more than earlier generations. Toronto just had a Zombie parade with some real scary looking walking Dead.

Zombies symbolize The Walking Dead among us, and in the context of your writing, most people are the Walking Dead, and without exception, are headed to the same finality in this world.Zombies rising on cemetery

The vanity of the fancy Tombstone or Mausoleum is irrelevant. The Destination of the Grave is the same for all that do not believe Death is only a Doorway to another Dimension of Being.

CalvaryCemeteryQueensJews and Gentiles, Princes, Paupers, Believers and Atheists, the Good, the Bad and the Ugly, in Death, end up as dust and ashes in the dirt of this earth by the Great Equalizer.

If only the people could find that Equality while we’re still alive in this world?

And Judgment is turned away backward, and Justice stands afar off: for Truth is fallen in the street, and EQUITY cannot enter.
Isaiah 59Isaiah_59-14

And the nations were angry, and your wrath is come, and the time of the dead, (zombies)
that they should be judged, and that you should give reward to your servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear your name, small and great; and
should destroy them which destroy the earth
Revelation 11:18

When you can see it happening in this world, is it Revelation being revealed? Everyone can see the Nations are angry and more people will be sent to the finality of the Grave.

The Christian Faith believes Death entered this world by the sin of one man, Adam, at the Beginning of the Sentient Human struggle thousands of years ago. Humans have gone to the Grave all that TIME.

By the same Faith, Death is swallowed up by the blood sacrifice of one man, Jesus, enduring the Cross in Jerusalem, fulfilling once and for all, the requirement of the ritual blood sacrifice of the ancient Jewish religion.

For as much then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;
And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.
For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham.

Wherefore in all things it behooved him to be made like his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.

For in that he himself has suffered being tempted, he is able to help them that are tempted.
Hebrews 2

What is the Object and Goal of that Faith in this world, before we get to the Grave? As an Individual, this is the single most important insight of the entire Bible of what is at stake to my Mind and Spirit.

Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
To HIM THAT OVERCOMES will I grant to SIT WITH ME IN MY THRONE, even as I ALSO OVERCAME, and AM SET DOWN WITH MY FATHER IN MY THRONE.
He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
Revelation 3

Any Individual, recognizing the Spirit of the letter, and willing to have the Patience and Trust to endure whatever Life brings, can Overcome all Life’s difficulties, doubts, reverses and challenges. Then you will have much Time Alone to reason with God since most other people just don’t care, comfortable with their cocoon in The Matrix.

By these words, God invites Humans TO BECOME God with God after Death, preparing for that while we are Alive, Resurrecting with the Risen Christ Day by Day in this world. The paid holiday of Easter is supposed to remind us of this.

Resurrection

Everyone can overcome if they Truly desire and believe with a sincere, humble heart, in finding The Way.

I HAD A DREAM

The year 1973 was significant to me for two reasons; the 1973 oil crisis and a particularly vivid and powerful dream I remembered on waking. It had threads of reality weaved within it as there was a blast of a good time jam packed all inclusive party in the actual apartment I was living in at the time.

At the edge of a deep cliff overlooking the Turcot trainyards of Montreal, I had an unobstructed view of the mighty St. Lawrence River, to the farthest extension of the horizon south to the US of A.

Suddenly, the the old, 2 story building collapsed into a pile of rubble as the earth shook violently. Climbing out and shaking the dust off, toward the northern view, I could see the real park across St. Jacques Street and the highrise buildings in the distance on the higher cliffs of Notre Dame de Grace swaying back and forth.

A Rolls Royce was parked in the street in front of the rubble that used to be my apartment. Getting in and turning on the radio, the only thing coming over all radio bands was, “You have to go to him. He wants you.”

Thinking that was the person I thought of as my best friend on earth at the time, I drove over to a fabulous dream apartment, not his real life one, having a commanding view of the entire City of Montreal.

“Frank! What’s Happening,” I asked, arriving at this amazing  dream apartment. “It looks like the end of the world to me,”  he said.      Asking “what do you think we should do?” he said, “If it is the end of the world there isn’t anything we can do about it, so let’s relax and enjoy. If it isn’t the end of the world, lets relax and enjoy anyway.”

He put on a long playing vinyl album on a sound system looking like the kind today’s professionals use. The needle got stuck in the groove, and over and over again it played, “You can’t stay here. You have to go to him. He wants you.”

Stunned on hearing that and backing away from the grand sunken living room, I backed into a tree standing in a corner of the room. The branches of the tree embraced me saying, “You can’t stay here. You have to go to him. He wants you.”

Not knowing who or where he was, I was running on St.Catherine Street as it was in those days. People were running in a panic and I was running in a panic like everyone else.

Bumping into somebody, I fell down and got up. Dodging things falling from the sky, I would stumble and fall. Getting up, I ran and climbed over collapsed rubble, falling and getting up again.

The obstacles seemed endless. Eventually from shear exhaustion, I collapsed and gave up. I couldn’t run any more. At this point, the sky parted, and just a hand came down out of the sky, and picked me up. I woke up being lifted up in the palm of the hand.

Maybe I was a slow learner to put 2 + 2 together, but it took two more years after that dream before I came alive to God or God came alive to me on February 1, 1975  as I was turning 30. That Day was as unexpected and as powerful an experience to me personally, as I imagine was the conversion of Saul on the Road To Damascus.

The hand has been there for me time and time again since then.

NOTICE: The following video has graphic scenes of revolting, disgusting, fearful, sickening violence, evil, and the depravity of man’s brutality toward man from the Past. This is not for the weak at heart.

If we cannot face the evils from our Past, and learn from them while it is called Today, we will be ill-equipped to deal with them in the world of Tomorrows of the Future if humanity does not changes it’s values and ways?

For Now we have Faith, Hope and Love, but the Greatest of these is Love.

1 Corinthians 13