You used to wonder what and where you would arrive in each age of life: at 13 you would count the years when you became 20s, 30s, 40s, and so on. Then all of sudden, you are pitchfolked forward, leaping two bridges of 20th and 21st centuries. Still, it all seems like yesterday, and you never changed at heart.
Who would have known that you will adopt cats and love them to the bargain? Who would have guessed your letters to the editor of your favorite British history magazine have been printed several times? And who would have doubted that your age could not wither you away, nor custom would stale your resistant spirit and hunger for knowledge? 100 years of time in evolutionary scale does sound antiquated or anachronistic, but in truth it amounts to a millionsecond on our 24 biological clock, an amount so infinitesimal that such difference of time is ludicriously insignificant. So don’t sigh but sing that you just hit the centanarian chart. Awesome.
FRancis Bacon assured us that we don’t have to be anxious about how we should prepare for the end of life because nature will do the job for us. It will let us know at that time when a psychopomp will appear to bring your soul to the beyond. Or in your case, it will be Mothe Mary to whom you used to pray a rosary when you were little. Wouldn’t it be nice for you to meet Mother Mary rather than some scary-looking death angel? I know you have come a long way alone, but this is not the end. Nobody but your fate knows where you go or will go. Yet it would be best if you lived like you are living the second time to keep your youthful spirit.
When I first learned of this sensationally titled book with the pinky perky cover photo of the author from the New York Times Book Review, I knew I had to read it because of its boldness and frankness that I believe would strike the chords of many who must have felt or wished it (let’s be honest). However, it was more like seeking a kindred spirit in such a titled book because I felt exhilarated with camaraderie and, once exonerated from such membership, a desire to revolt against mothers.
But the book isn’t an angst-ridden, hate-filled, violence-saturated memoir nowadays in-vogue among celebrities who live to tell their dark life histories. Although it isn’t precisely wholesomely hall-mark like loving family history, it is worth pointing out the moments of love and warmth that childhood memories sometimes invoke because we thrive as human beings on those memories. McCurdy’s mother may not have been perfect, but who is an ideal mother anyway? The Bard once said that look not with the eye but with the mind. She was the one who saw talents in her daughter, encouraged them, and made them blossom into a pink dandelion when many parents either ignore or overlook the bests of their children for their future. Although I can understand McCurdy’s disaffection with her passionate mother controlling her life, I am envious of having such a mother who was willing to sacrifice her hard labor for her daughter’s success.
The cover photo is puzzling. The author has a smile but not smiling, or instead trying to smile but is subdued as if her emotions are changing instantly or frozen in the moments between joy and sadness, independence and confusion in the transition of belonging to freedom. I can’t honestly fathom what the author thinks inside, but one thing is certain she loves her mother, who is now unburdened with the cares and pain of the world. Perhaps, that is why she is glad her mother died.
I wanted to find the Church’s stance on reincarnation and, above all, what the Bible said about this seemingly endless shapeshifting until the purification of the soul is complete, so to speak. What about the Christian belief that we live only once and have no return of life?
According to “A Concise Dictionary of Theology,” reincarnation is the belief or metempsychosis (“animate afterward”) that the soul preexists its embodiment. After death, the soul exists in a ghostly state before animating one again, a body of the same in a different state, which sounds a lot like a demon or malevolent spirit possessing the body of the living. It is this very belief in resurrection and official rejection of the preexistence of wandering souls without corporeal substance that denies reincarnation itself. By maintaining an endless series of chances, the doctrine of reincarnation reduces the seriousness of God’s grace and, most importantly, human liberty exercised in one life that is ended by once-and-for all death.
Furthermore, in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, death is the end of man’s earthly pilgrimage. When the single course of our earthly life is completed, we shall not return to other earthly lives as “it is appointed for men to die once” [Hebrews 9:27]. Christianity defends the duality of the body and the soul. However, reincarnation defends dualism that both beings exist separately and that the body is simply an instrument of the soul; existence by successive existence as an altogether different body is repeatedly assumed each time one recycles life. Thus reincarnation denies the idea of the resurrection of the body, as evidenced by the resurrection of Christ, and most primarily rejects the Christian doctrine of salvation. Therefore, there is no reincarnation after death.
I feel much better now than before. While I succumbed to the belief in reincarnation, I couldn’t accept the thought of my present life as punishment for my wrongdoings in my past lives. To think that I have to live in a miserable state of discipline until my subsequent due recycling puts me on the verge of lunacy in the form of murderous headache for which I recently found myself in the ER. Viktor E. Frankl, the survivor of concentration camps during World War 2 and the founder of Logotherapy, urged us to trust that there is meaning in suffering, which helps us lead to our purposes in life. Samuel Johnson, one of the most significant 18th-century English men of letters and the author of A Dictionary of the English Language, describes life as progress from want to want, not from enjoyment to enjoyment. Forget the arguments about the religious dogma dictating an institutionalized belief for mass mind control. Or it so, then so be it. After all, reincarnation is also another offshoot of mysticism developed into religious thought. Then I will follow the light that gives me a sense of hope. And for this reason, I proclaim that my body and soul are inseparable and that I live only once, and that’s it.
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