Out, Out, Brief Candle

Well, I’m sure it’s no longer news to the world that Steve Irwin, the world-renowned and wildly popular “Crocodile Hunter” died the other day when he was stung(?) by a stingray.

I guess in some ways it wasn’t really unexpected, given his penchant for daredevil hijinks with the world’s deadliest animals. But at the same time, it was a little sobering to be reminded that when it’s your time to go, well… it’s your time to go.

At least Irwin died doing what he loved. We can only hope to go out the same way.

One of the things that struck me most about Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Life when I read it a few years ago is the way he reminds us of one of Christianity’s most fundamental tenets: that the grave is not really the end. While cynics point to this as Christianity’s perhaps most delusional fantasy, most Christians believe that in the great symphony of eternity, human life on earth as we know it is merely a short rehearsal. There’s something to look forward to after all of this is done. And that something is better than anything we can ever imagine.

But I don’t think Christians necessarily understand the magnitude of what that means.

Or rather, we get too bogged down in the minutiae of day-to-day life that we often forget the extended timeline we operate in.

Warren (2002) says that when you accept that there’s more to life than just the here and now, you start living differently. “Suddenly many activities, goals, and even problems that seemed so important will appear trivial, petty, and unworthy of your attention” (p. 37). It’s the same kind of re-prioritizing people who have had near-death experiences say they do when they’re so violently and unexpectedly reminded of their mortality.

I don’t think that’s a bad thing.

Imagine if we could focus on what’s really important in life rather than wasting our time on things that don’t matter in the long run.

They say we should live each day like it’s our last. I think that’s damn good advice.

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One thought on “Out, Out, Brief Candle

  1. Hmmm Does it mean live life like its your last day? I’ve thought recently, as part of my rut, and part of general ad nauseum depression that if i knew i’d die in 24 hours, I wouldn’t call everyone up and tell them I loved them and what they meant to me (maybe if i had a few weeks to live). But that last 24 hours is mine… to be selfish and wholly focused on what I wanted. I’d do things like big out on McDonalds, tell my job what I really thought of them, and have tons of unprotected sex (hell i’m dying tomorrow, who cares). I’ve lived the rest of my life for others, the last 24 hours are for me.

    On a side note: one of the Buddhist philosophies I’ve worked into my religious beliefs is the concept of Nirvana and working to escape life and punishment. I’m not sure this life is worth all that much (not saying i’m suicidal, or that I hate life), but in general life is a hard and difficult thing. I think I’d rather believe it ends, rather than it continuing on into existence forever. And if you want to discuss a more Christo-centric view, I’m not sure the Bible says that heaven will be an easy place either. After all he’s thrown angels out of heaven, hasn’t he, which makes me think strife exists. I feel like there would be a caste system based on how holy one was on Earth, which then makes us question if we’d be high enough to make heaven worthwhile? And if we all are equals, do you want to be equals with the likes of Jon- Benet’s killers who may ask for forgiveness before they die and be allowed into heaven?

    Then it also raises the question of what is hell? (for those who believe in it) Is hell truly a punishment, or as I learned in sunday school at a protestant church, hell is truly unrepentant sinners being encased in god’s love that makes them feel ashamed. Not entire the lake of fire, but it makes a little more sense and its not that bad.

    Just some religious thoughts…

    or maybe we created a religious practice around a political leader to capitalize on purely human characteristics like power and greed? (meaning the founders of Christianity (not Christ himself) knew what they were doing and didn’t do it for holy reasons.)

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