I was told when I got glasses "you are deteriorating at the appropriate rate Dennis." Great....
All of religion is predicated on the fact that we have to go somewhere after death. "We" being everything from our spirit and energy to our mind and ethereal body. We like it better if there is a good place for the nice ones of us and a bad one for the jerks. Although the idea of reincarnation lends itself to allowing everyone their spot after having learned lessons along the way many times over.
Western Churches spend your lifetime convincing you that their understanding is THE only understanding of what happens when we die and usually provide you with a program whereby you can leave your worldly goods, you know the ones they told you in sermons not to store up on, to them. I have seen many a family outside the particular denomination of the one who "went home" have to face the fact that all the goodies went to their church and not their family.
Let's make a rule that if a person gives a church their stuff after they die, and sons or daughters protest, the Church has to give it back to the family. This will help the church to practice what they preach and give that which actually belongs to a family to the family it actually belongs to. Beware of Churches who have a program for you to "honor God with your death," or "Your will, a way for you to continue giving after you die," program. The money given to the Church will be mis-spent and it would be more satisfying to have your kids mis-spend it than your church. Amen
It's funny how if you ask someone about quantum physics or how life works, it's such an unknowable mystery in the final analysis, at least for now. But ask a religious person about what happens after death, and pfffft...that's easy. We go to heaven, they go to hell, we get reincarnated often, we are deader than dead, we wait in the grave until Jesus returns, we rise in a physical body, we rise in a spiritual "body", we this and that as if they knew and the truth is that they don't. Westerners would never question the Bible as knowing what happens after death even though one can find all of the above mentioned in one form or another in the pages of the Bible.
Quantum physics now speculates we all simply live in a simulation for only supreme programmer knows why.
Like Humans, the Biblical understanding of death evolved into what we see in the Evangelical Christian Church today.
The Catholic Church has gotten good at adding new places the dead go, such as unsaved babies, or the unborn or the not quite saved types, but it's all a crap shoot. Because we can come up with questions like "well what kind of God would throw an innocent child in hell for not knowing.....", we have to figure out new holding pens for such categories of people. They are not real mind you, but they help us cope.
Missionaries rush to save the lost before they die while admitting, in some circles that if they left them ignorant, a loving God would automatically translate them into heaven upon death. I mean, they can't help it they were born in New Guinea or the Great Plains.
Geronimo was asked by the General who hunted him down and imprisoned him in Florida if he wanted to go to heaven when he died? Geronimo asked if the General was also going to be there? "Why of course," came the response met by as simple "Then no" by Geronimo. Hell would indeed be for many having to spend eternity with those that drove them nuts in this life!
I mean, do you really want to spend eternity closer than ever to all the people in your church, including the same pastor day and night forever! I think not! Heaven just might seem like one big endless potluck of boring people who are still pretending to be what they never were back on earth. It would be an eternal obligatory Thanksgiving or Christmas with the relatives that most never wanted to attend anyway!
Nope, if I get to go to heaven, please God, let there be quiet places where no one can find me and those I want to be around. You know, kinda like we can do down here if we choose.
I saw a lot of death as a minister. Sometimes it was after the fact long enough to just bury somone in a nice funeral service in a nice setting. Sometimes I found myself standing at the edge of a river while they searched for a lost one or taken to a morgue to roll the dead body of a child or friend out of a drawer for a private family look. I Even dug a grave once on a farm while we waited for family to arrive for a quick same day funeral and burial. I've picked up the cemains, ugh what a word, of people I had just talked to a few days earlier, now reduced to about 10 lbs. of gray sand. I have transported the neatly wrapped body of a newborn to another city in the backseat of my car, as the couple could not afford for the funeral home to do it.
Once I had visited a mother, just socially, who spent much of the visit recounting the talents, skills, and beauty of daughter, which is normal when a parent is well pleased. I specifically remember thinking on the way home "how would she cope if she lost that daughter, who was the center of all the mom lived for? When I got home, the phone was ringing and I was returning to the hospital where this young woman had just been brought fatally run down at 18 miscrossing a street. Tough stuff. I lost a nephew to a train that could not get his attention while he was wearing his walkman. I lost my two brother in laws suddenly in life.
The point seems to live in the moment, staying both out of the past of our lives, where we tend to store our anger and hurt, and also the future, where we store our anxiety and all that is unknowable. No one knows what happens at death. Just to say that is to stir the pot of religious surety. I know, no one but YOU knows because you read it somewhere.
There are some great stories of past lives recalled by some with uncanny detail. Hmmm, could be.
Even the Bible gives the account of the blind man who caused the disciples to ask if the man's blindness was the fault of his parents or HIS own sin, "that he was BORN blind." We at least have to admit there is room there to question that if one is born blind due to sin, the sin must have taken place in a previous life. No other explanation is possible. Some in the early church believed in reincarnation. General George Patton was famous for his knowing where he had fought as a Roman Soldier in a previous life, while fighting again during WWII in Europe. He wasn't kidding and no one made fun of him either.
There are stories of those who have left their bodies in near death experiences only to return and recount the experience in detail that only a, well "Ghost" could give. They got recalled to finish their lives evidently and everyone who experiences such a thing never again fears death. Well worth the experience if only for that little peace of mind, I'd say.
Stories abound of those who were given organ transplants donated by those who have died, only to mysteriously acquire the deceased's taste in foods, books or familiarity with topics never studied in their own lives. This would give credence to the idea tha cellular memory can be passed on. Whoa..pretty inspiring stuff and not just a little bit spooky.
Crass religions make big bucks off the masses who need to purchase their places in the Kingdom of God. I remember once shoveling a drive buried in feet of snow for a woman who then paid me in Catholic indulgences. They gave me a full 90 days less in Purgatory. I told her I was Presbyterian. She smiled and closed the door. I almost shoved the snow back into the drive.
I'm glad that so many can be so sure they know what happens at death. Some just know because they read it in the Bible never thinking that even that book is just another attempt by humans to figure this out. Some just know it's true because it's "true for me." Some feel that it just has to be true or what's the point. One cannot just die for nothing after learning all this stuff in life and having all these experiences.
When one of "our own" i.e. Church related person, dies, devil or demon, we hardly know what to say. We tend to say nice things about those we somewhat agree with or at least did not hurt us or others along the way, such as Mr. Ian Boyne recently. We always know what to say when those we revile for their narcissism and pain inflicted pass. Mostly we say nothing and let others handle that publically. But quietly, we mostly just wonder what will it be like when we get to that time or how that person might have felt in their final realizations that it was over.
It is the search that is interesting in life, not the finding. Those who think they have found it all , neatly packaged and easy to understand if they are "called" or "chosen" are cruising on pious convictions with marginal information at best. Nothing is as easy as or clear as Church of God types make it seem....