(artwork by Rob Stinogle)
I’m sitting in my local coffee shop and I see that they have some Halloween decorations up already, including a paper cut-out ghost.
It makes me think of my father, who passed away a few weeks ago.
Not in a scary or eerie way. If he were to become a ghost, he wouldn’t be a scary one. He might be a nagging ghost, but not a scary one.
The paper ghost makes me think about the spirit world and whether it really exists.
I should start out by saying that I don’t really believe in ghosts or spirits or even souls. I have a pretty scientific outlook on life. It’s very nice when people say to me that "your father is looking down on you." I smile and appreciate their kind words. But I don’t buy it. To me, believing that is akin to teaching Creationism in school.
One thing I realize is that most of my images of heaven and hell are colored by Christian thought. You know, Angels with Wings vs. Dante’s Inferno.
I think Judaism cleverly plays it dumb by not offering a very clear picture of the afterlife. Maybe that’s why it’s traditional to rush the body into burial: so nobody asks the rabbi any tough questions.
Are there any knowledgeable Jews out there who can paint a clear picture of the Jewish afterlife? What is a Jewish heaven? Is there a Jewish hell? Or is the Jewish hell being stuck in heaven for eternity with all of your relatives?
The traditional heaven/hell split is completely unappealing to me. In Hell, there is suffering and pain — so there must be some sort of sensory feeling. So, why not some sensory feeling in heaven? Angels just seem to fly back and forth like Jet Blue flights between JFK and Long Beach. Without the body, there’s no food, dancing, or sex — all the good stuff.
Who the hell wants to go to heaven? It sounds more dull than a vacation in Albuquerque.
Sure, your soul is still there. You can think and ponder great thoughts. Oh great, it sounds just like being in fucking grad school again. Who wants that? And do you at least get weekends off to go to some keg parties in Hell? That’s probably where all the hot girls end up anyway.
OK, back to my father. I guess I’m just like other Jews throughout history — avoiding the afterlife issue by talking about all sorts of other things. How do you think Jews became such good lawyers?
Hi, Dad. (that is, if they let you read blogs up there. But wait a minute, you don’t know how to use a computer. Mom always printed it out for you at work. And I’m assuming they all have Macs in heaven, right?)
C’mon, God. Loosen up a bit. Don’t make heaven such a drag. Give the deceased some fun. I know I’m going to be depressed when I go — no more pizza, naked women, or reruns of "The Jeffersons."
And those heavenly robes — I do not look good in white.