Journey to Atheism, Part IV

In November of 2007, the running theme in our life was that other than some mild disagreements with our extended family, the world was peaceful. There was no turmoil or trauma to upset me, and I was considering all these questions of religious belief, faith, and god in the context of a peaceful, happy existence wherein my family was re-united.

One thing that did weigh on my mind and bother me was my mom. Her death affected me more than I can ever describe. She was, in my opinion, the best mom a girl could ask for. She was quirky and humorous, devoted to her family, available when we needed her, and very supportive and affectionate.

April 2001 She was already ill in this picture; caught in the throes of a manic phase. Soon after, she would descend into the depression that gripped her until her death in 2003.

April 2001 She was already ill in this picture; caught in the throes of a manic phase. Soon after, she would descend into the depression that gripped her until her death in 2003.

Anyway, mom had been a great mom, but she was dead by her own hand, and this bothered me (to say the least). When I was younger, mom had often explained her struggle with bipolar to me by saying, “God gives us nothing we cannot handle.” Her faith in God was perfect, enviable, and baffling; and yet she had killed herself. It was really, really difficult for me to reconcile this.

Additionally, after her death, I had suffered from numerous terrifying nightmares in which my zombie mom returned from the grave to beg for answers — why had we abandoned her, why had we forgotten her, why had we let dad remarry. That type of thing. Meanwhile, my dad, his new wife, some ladies from the ward, and even my sisters (occasionally) were reporting these heart-warming, faith-building dreams in which my mom conveyed messages of peace, joy, and happiness.

This seriously bothered me, because it seemed to me that if mom was visiting any of us with messages of afterlife reassurance and peace and joy, she should probably check in on the daughter who had struggled with her faith regularly since 1994. Instead, I was getting horrifying nightmares while people who never knew mom (dad’s new wife, for example) were getting peaceful reassurances. This left three possibilities:

  1. God knew my doubts and was preventing mom from reassuring me as a test of my faith. If this is the case, god was a dick to test my faith in a time of grief. Plus, I have more faith in mom than that. She would have, at the very least, tossed a message for me to one of the people she was allowed to visit.
  2. God did not know my doubts, and therefore could not know to send mom to reassure me. In that case, god’s not really all-knowing, is he?
  3. They were just dreams, with no supernatural element to them whatsoever. This was the most logical answer.

I didn’t normally think of dreams as prophetic or ghostly visitations; this unusual thinking was due to the juxtaposition of my zombie nightmares to their angelic reassurances. Normally, I consider dreams to be spasms of our subconscious, a hodgepodge of thoughts and experiences and imagination all thrown in a pot and stirred to boiling. Using that definition and the personalities in question, it seemed clear why each of us dreamed what we did.

So in November of 2007, although I had resolved the zombie/ angel dream juxtaposition, I still had not resolved the question of the afterlife. Suicide is, technically, murder. Technically, mom should not get into the Celestial Kingdom, no matter how much people reassured me by saying that “God knew her struggle,” and “God was with her every step of the way.”

Was he with her when she killed herself? Does that count as “handling” God’s struggle? Was my mom’s suicide part of god’s ineffable plan, or was it against god’s will? When I died, would I see my mother again, or was she lost to me forever? Telling me “god’s way are not ours,” and “god works in mysterious ways,” was no help and no answer.

No-one had an answer, they just had platitudes or would advise me to, “have faith,” or that, “all would become clear.” I also found no answers or reassurance in the scriptures or bible, no matter how I studied. In the absence of answers from spiritual leaders and religious books, I set to trying to puzzle out a logical answer regarding the afterlife. Below is one musing I had on the question.

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Reincarnation and stuffs.

November 18, 2007

So, I’ve thought a lot about this. I talked to Step a little about it, but she doesn’t quite understand what I’m saying, so I must not be expressing myself clearly. I believe in reincarnation. The reason I’m talking about this today is because it’s one of the “writer’s block questions” on the main page:

If reincarnation were inevitable, what would you come back as in your next life?

I think that’s a ridiculous question. I don’t know. A cat. Because I like cats. A dog, because I don’t like dogs, and that would be ironic. A human, because, uh, duh – that makes sense?

But reincarnation. I do believe in that, yet I believe in God, too. How do I reconcile this? It’s pretty easy. See, I believe that God put us on this earth to learn. But it seems to me that a loving, kind God (which is the God I believe in) wouldn’t put us in a pass/fail course, to use a classroom analogy. That’s not loving or kind. So we get a course with tests, so to speak. Thus, reincarnation.

We have a few lives to learn in. A few tests, so to speak, from which we can take some knowledge with us to the next life. Call it intuition, call it common sense, call it what you will. Some people just seem to get along in life better than others, like they just get it. As if they’ve been around the block before, or got a better set of instructions. Either Someone’s not playing fair and gave out handy cheat books to a select few, or that person is a few “tests” ahead in the course.

If you’re not getting what I’m saying, I don’t think that reincarnation is infinite and unending. I think it’s finite. I think it runs a course. There is an ending where we go to an afterlife, be it heaven or outer darkness or hell or whatever it is. It’s simply that I don’t feel that one life is enough to teach us all that we’re supposed to learn on this earth, so we get a few.

Being mortal, I have no idea of how many we get, or even if they all take place on this earth. Maybe a couple lives take place on Aibjkawa, over on the other side of the galaxy; I don’t know. (I made that up, by the way. It is not a real place, to the best of my knowledge.) This is just my theory, but it seems sound to me. Besides, what is any religious belief but a hypothesis?

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