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  • mistermuse 5:31 pm on July 7, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: afterlife, , , , , psychiatry,   


    Perhaps you saw the story, reported by Associated Press writer Michael Rubikam, on 07/06/10. The headline was an attention grabber: Widow lives with corpses of husband, twin. It was the kind of headline that, save for the limited attention-span generation, won’t let you not take time to read the story behind it.

    It seems that a 91 year old widow in rural northern Pennsylvania, Jean Stevens, had the embalmed corpses of her late husband and twin sister dug up and placed in her garage and house, where she could look at and talk to them. After someone revealed this to authorities and had the bodies removed, the story reports that “She knows what people must think of her. But she had her reasons, and they are complicated, a bit sad, and in their own peculiar way, sweet.” They come across as the reasons of, not an unbalanced or pitifully ignorant person, but of a thinking, if somewhat eccentric, person.

    She kept her husband and sister well-dressed and seated on couches where she could see and touch them…even talk to them…because, “when you put them in the (ground), that’s goodbye, goodbye.” She worries that after death, there is nothing. But then, gazing at the stars in the skies and the deer in the fields, she thinks “There must be somebody who created this. It didn’t come up like mushrooms. I don’t always go to church, but I want to believe.”

    If anyone in this AP story strikes me as holier-than-thou and less than grounded, it’s Helen Lavretsky, a UCLA psychiatry professor, who is reported as declaring that

    …people who aren’t particularly spiritual or religious often have a difficult time with death because they fear that death is truly the end. For them, she said, “death doesn’t exist. They deny death.”

    In the first place, people can be spiritual without being religious, and in the second place, Stevens doesn’t deny death – she deals with it in her own way. Just because Mrs. Stevens’ way isn’t Dr. Lavretsky’s way is no reason to put down the former from on high.

    Somehow I can’t help but feel that I could have a much more engaging, thoughtful and human conversation with Mrs. Stevens than with Dr. Lavretsky. One thing I know for certain – I would much rather give a great big hug to Mrs. Stevens.

    • carmen 7:11 pm on December 14, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I’m with ya on that sentiment. Mrs. Stevens sounds like a lovely person. Dr. Lavretsky? Well, she sounds like a psychiatrist. . 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse 8:09 am on December 15, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      You got that right! 🙂


  • mistermuse 9:46 pm on March 6, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: afterlife, ,   



    In the search for meaning we must not forget that the gods (or God, for that matter) are a concept of the human mind; they are the creatures of man, not vice versa. They are needed and invented to give meaning and purpose to the puzzle that is life on earth, to explain strange and irregular phenomena of nature, haphazard events and, above all, irrational human conduct. They exist to bear the burden of all things that cannnot be comprehended except by supernatural intervention or design.
    –Barbara Tuchman, The March Of Folly

    Fear can grab us as surely as death, but
    the question even fear cannot bury asks
    What loving father isn’t there
    for his children from day one?
    The Good Book talks a good game, but when
    fear’s survivors no longer think as children, the
    burden of uncomprehended things will be faced.
    It is the creator’s absence by design
    which will cry out for meaning on that day.
    Heavenly Father, you had creator’s choice,
    chose to big bang the universe into unforgiving
    existence, chose to be the ultimate missing father.
    Forgive me, but what am I missing?


    Mostly this we have of God; we have man.
    –Walt Whitman

    Let’s say, for the sake of agreement,
    that fate holds no afterlife….who will
    vindicate atheists for being dead right?
    Let’s say it comes to pass that
    our prayers rode dead-end streets….what
    souls of back-seat drivers will survive
    to eternally second-guess our folly?
    Let’s say the promise of scripture rests
    on the say-so of those who professed
    to record His word, His deeds. Pray, then,
    to the God of man’s word that man’s word
    be true, for beyond the here there shall be
    no confronting the chosen ones
    for having chosen to play God.

  • mistermuse 11:44 am on May 20, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: afterlife, , ,   


    In my last column many moons ago, I reflected that I don’t know if there is life after death. I don’t have another such scoop….but I do have another reflection.

    Suppose the Creator had created this universe in exactly the same way, minus human beings? Without sentient, more-or-less intelligent beings capable of realizing/appreciating the wonder and wonders of creation, what would have been the point of creation? And, by eternal extension, what’s the further point if realization/appreciation cannot continue to be shared beyond the grave?

    Unfortunately, this otherwise logical rationale for an afterlife rests on an imperfect foundation. In the real world, human beings may die in infancy or survive a while longer in unawareness, insanity or other stunted capacity. All too often, fate is the determinant of whether individual human beings ever reach the capability point. Perhaps primitive man, locked in a brutish daily struggle merely to survive, and without language by which to contemplate, lacked such capacity. In any case, we seem to be back where we started.

    So, what other impulse (for lack of a better word) might have motivated creation? Love? Not if love’s golden rule (do unto others as you would have them do unto you) applies to the Creator of man’s subjugation to suffering. Curiosity (as to how would man play the cards he was dealt)? This suggests not only that the Creator didn’t know, but was bored.

    Enough. For a deist (at least, for this deist), it is all but impossible to envision an afterlife based on any relationship other that might makes right….which, come to think of it, bears a striking resemblance to the God of the old testament.

    We are indeed back where we started.

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