Christian celebrations of death
In my past entry, I discussed the virtue of non-sacrifice. It is improper for a virtuous person to be obsessed with death, of the self or others, as a positive force. Certainly I admit that one can conduct himself with dignity when faced with death, and that such a dignity is not only an honour on him but also a good example to show. Also, I agree that our modern societies are not nearly concerned enough with dying well. However, there is a vast chasm between understanding death and glorifying it.
And yet Christianity is dedicated, not to understand death, but to glorify it. Christianity is, in fact, pretty much black and white on this issue. It trivializes death as a mere stepping stone to an either infinitely blissful or infinitely painful "afterlife". The act of dying is seen by Christians as yet another occasion for rituals and religious reinforcement. They have no respect for the dead (or their wishes while they were alive, for that matter, but that's par for the course).
On the other hand, Christianity and the Bible glorify death from cover to cover. Despite its admonitions not to kill or commit suicide, the Bible praises war, murder, sacrifice and divine wrath at every turn.
The most obvious manifestation of glorification of death is in the central character of "Jesus". There can be no doubt that "Jesus" killed himself- that is the whole purpose of his presence in the story. Not only does it glorify suicide, but also executions, sacrifice and suffering. Christians love the suffering of "Jesus" on the cross so much that they made a blockbuster out of a movie that concentrates almost solely on that aspect. They just love to glorify death on the big screen, and inflict such visions on their children. They adore a bloodied loser on a cross. You shall know them by their symbols!
Another movie that came out, concerned Moses and his messiah status to lead his tribes out of Egypt. This story is almost nothing but an orgy of death- innocent babies killed, livestock killed, rivers filling with blood, bugs attacking people... and of course, the Red Sea, where countless soldiers no doubt drowned. It is nothing but a magnification of the terroristic genocide that takes place all throughout the Old Testament.
Do I even need to explain another popular story used to indoctrinate children- Noah's Ark? Where the drowning of all life on the whole planet is portrayed as a wonderous, magical adventure? This goes beyond glorification of death- it treats total genocide as a walk in the park!
What about the book opener, the story of Adam and Eve ? Sure, no one dies in it per se, but what is the story meant to explain? Suffering and death! Why doesn't the Christian creation story try to explain anything else?
Why is death, indeed, the primary motivator for religious belief? Every concern of Christians is really a fear of death. The search for purpose? Answered by the afterlife- death. What is our comfort? The prospect of the afterlife- death. Where will ultimate justice come? At the afterlife- death. Forgiveness? You get the idea. Death is their answer for everything.
Sure, there is more to religion than the glorification of death. But seen from this perspective, it is hard to see religion as anything more than campfire stories people make up to reassure themselves that the grim expectation of their death should be a joy. In a world where our lives are more and more in our hands, such beliefs are fast becoming horrifying relics of a primitive age.