On Life and Death

Today, Megan and I went to lunch at Ashoka the Great in Artesia. The buffet was good, where else can you find goat curry in OC/LA?
Towards the end of lunch we got on the discussion of topic of the Terri Schiavo case. She mentioned several bloggers input, of which one stated that they thought that Christians were supposed to be looking forward to eternal life with God, not holding on to the here and now.
I must agree with this. In my “Critical Thought & Art Theory” class, we have been reading Margaret Wertheim’s “The Pearly Gates of Cyberspace: A History of Space from Dante to the Internet” which examines the concept of space in Art, Science, and Theology in the last 700 years. Wertheim traces Christian thought and scientific thought and how we view the physical and the eternal.
What has struck me strongly in reading Wertheim is how much Christians of all stripes have embraced physcial space and materialism over the last four centuries even while they claim faith in the risen Christ.
When I lived in Boston, my friend Denise told me that if something happened to her that she was “ready to go home to the Lord.” I was shocked to hear this come out of the mouth of a dynamic, 30 something. As I reflected on her words, I have realized that was a truly Christian response to life. I would like to say that without irony about my life.
I started to search some blogs and other spots online looking for Meg’s quote, when I came across two reponses:
apophenia on Terri Shiavo:

…I want to face god when the time comes, not be kept alive just because it’s possible. There is beauty in life and beauty in death – they go hand in hand and i have no fear
So, Schiavo died today which gives me great relief. It is her turn to meet god and she should’ve been given that opportunity 15 years ago. What horrifies me is how her life has been manipulated and used by the most conservative forces for some pretty selfish gains. Of course, everything about it is horribly conflicting. The same agendas who are against universal health care are for keeping people on machines infinitely rather than letting them die in peace.

Jack Miles in the LA Times’ editorial section on April 1, 2005 in an article entitled “A Portrait of the Pope As a Dying Man”:

In our world, things often work that way. To which I would add that because there is no Christian whose dying is so closely watched as the pope’s, there is no Christian better placed to teach again the ancient lesson that earthly life is not to be clung to.
As St. Paul put it in 2 Corinthians 5, “We are well aware that when the tent that houses us on Earth is folded up, there is a house for us from God, not made by human hands but everlasting, in the heavens…. In this present tent, we groan under the burden, not that we want to be stripped of our covering, but because we want to be covered with a second garment on top, so that what is mortal in us may be swallowed up by life. It is God who designed us for this very purpose, and he has given us the Spirit as a pledge.”
For true Christians, the culture of life that matters is the culture of eternal life. My mother recalls the death of a beloved nun, far gone with Alzheimer’s disease, who refused to eat or drink during the last two or three days of her life, saying only, “I want to go home.” For those gathered at her bedside, this was the testimony of the Spirit.