Thursday, November 1, 2012

Talking about heaven and hell

 Today I read a striking comment of a  Polish well known feminist, moral philosopher and advocate of women's rights on how unwelcome she feels as an atheist in the Polish culture. All Saints Day,  is a moment for her to remind that not everybody believes in heaven and hell. Then she ridicules these concepts and shows how little meaning they have to her, and at the same time she does not feel less alive or less reflective on death because of that. 

I was sad to read the tone of this comment. The author is right that we shouldn't treat atheistic views on after life and death less seriously than those of people of faith. On the other hand, I do not want people's beliefs in after life to be simplified and mocked either. In fact, I think that there is neither nothing easy in believing in life after death  nor as it is in believing that there is nothing afterwards.  

 I hate these stereotypes that "atheists are careless about death" or "Christians have an easy consolation because there is heaven". We all have to face the inevitable perspective of death.  Whether we believe in eternity or not, we might experience fear, incertitude, curiosity. We  wonder about what will happen, how much of us will stay behind, what dying means to the present life and how to make the best of it. How to be live the fullest of lives (which what actually being saint means to Christians).

Why is it then that we cannot talk about it in the spirit of respect? Let heaven and hell be a metaphor, a point of debate, if they are not a reality of everyone, but let them start a real conversation.

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