Weddings and funerals can be events of joy—a wedding is supposed to be a celebration of love and the beginning of a yellow brick road for two people skipping off to Oz; a funeral can be the celebration of a life of someone well-loved who brought happiness to others—mourning—a wedding can pair two people whose lives together can be foreseen by all assembled, on both sides of the aisle (real bipartisanship) as a train wreck; a funeral, especially of someone young or who died under horrible circumstances, can wreak emotional havoc like nothing else (except the end days of a bad marriage).
Both events often offer opportunities for reflection, especially by the person whose job it is to officiate the ceremonies.
(At this, I must interject: I mean no offense to Roman Catholics, but long-form Roman Catholic weddings, complete with full mass and communion in the middle of everything, are really a drag. I do not understand why anyone would subject friends and loved ones to over an hour of boredom like that. The booze at the reception makes up for the boredom, but only in part.)
Fundamentalist Christians seem to put different spins on the ceremonies. I understand there are various denominations one can say are fundamentalist, but the individuals to whom I refer here did not identify their sects. All were male.
In two weddings I have attended, officiated by "preachers," not ministers, reference was made to divorce. I think mention of divorce in a marriage ceremony simply is a matter of bad taste. One might as well wheel out a casket and remind everyone that yes, one day we all shall die. That really would put a bright spin on the event.
A funeral I recently attended caused me to ponder deep matters quite a bit. I have been to fundamentalist funerals where a preacher at the front grinned and proclaimed how happy the deceased was right at that moment.
The mood at this funeral was quite subdued. What made me think about a lot of things was the preacher’s description of heaven. He mentioned the streets paved with gold and the pearly gates. He added that heaven was not like many people imagined it. People do not sit around on clouds and play harps all the time. Here was the catcher—they do what they did in this life, but on a higher level.
First, I have to address those streets of gold." If material goods on Earth are considered base, why would gold be of any meaning or value in a Christian paradise? Why would there even be streets?
Second—what is it that people do in heaven that they also do here, only on a "higher level"? The thing about the streets of gold implies there is a corporeal existence. Our souls somehow take on physical form. Then why didn’t the supreme being create us with those new, improved bodies? Why set up a line to manufacture the Chevy Vega when the same line can manufacture Ferrari?
If we have physical form in the afterlife—in heaven—does that mean sex is there? I would think the preacher, if asked that question (and I would not have been so impertinent as to interrupt the ceremony for any reason, much less to query him about aspects of theology), would say sex is "carnal" and base. And remember—there is a strong argument that the Christian "hell" is populated by corporeal beings. How else would people be made to suffer in "lakes of fire"?
Okay, so people in heaven do not fuck (or engage in any other sexual activity).
Does that mean people in heaven work? The guy said people do the same things they did here, but on a higher level. At least in heaven, one would suspect, people at last can rest in peace. Or does that only apply to the inferior product prone in the box in the ground, the crypt above-ground, or that was rendered to ash in cremation? 45 percent of American polled say they are "satisfied" with their jobs. "Satisfied" is a long way from "want to spend the rest of eternity" in the occupation. Even if one loves one’s work, after a few centuries that work might get as boring as the long-form Catholic wedding ceremony. If the work is of such a nature as to be for the benefit of those who suffer or who possess things that are broken—for example, a physician heals others, a mechanic (sorry, "auto technician") repairs cars—what are these folks to do in a place where everything supposedly is perfect?
And for whom would they work? If things are the same as they are here on Earth, only better, does that mean the same bosses supervise, but the wages are higher?
There are four basic reasons for the creation of religion. The first is to maintain in power those who wish to rule. This began to break down with the Elightenment, but still is vibrant. The second is to make money. The third is to provide a meaning to existence, outside existence itself. The first two reasons are enabled by the fourth reason—people do not want to admit they one day will die.