Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Pancakes in Heaven

I'm not really interested in theology, so I don't delve much into religion. But this once, I'll stray.

I was upset, at times, during my grandmother's funeral this weekend. She was the picture of Midwestern piety and my now-widowed grandfather the Old Testament patriarch, so whenever I'm up there I try to hold my breath and pretend I'm not a secularist. It's hard.

It was hard during the service. What got to me were all the readings picked by the pastor, sweeping verses of God's saving us from the tumult of life, us earning our final respite in glory after a long life of hard work. I just don't understand this Christian masochism. Granted, I hope my grandmother is in this wonderful place, but truly it's not as important to me to as remembering her life. If you knew her you know she worked hard, but she was serving, not suffering.

I'm a recovering cynic, though still mainly mired in it. But despite the fact that life is hard and littered with setbacks, I think it's a good thing. I don't understand people who harp about the sanctity of life only to sit around bemoaning its difficulty and waiting for its conclusion. Surely if there is a heaven, it's a nice break from the crap of life, but I wasn't in the mood to hear old verses about the awfulness of life. I just wanted to remember how she had a hard time remembering my name sometimes, but made me breakfast anyway.


Chris Jones said...

As much as you (as a direct relative) deserved to be the target audience for the funeral, you probably weren't. Not on account of any ill will from anybody. Just because it wouldn't occur to them that you'd have different needs.

I think the operative difference between urban and rural folk is where they will tolerate absurdity and nonsense. Rural people tolerate it from the universe--bad weather, untimely death, crop failure. Urban folk tolerate it from other people--existentialism, postmodernism, self-help psychotherapy.

So the comfort of heaven helps them accept what they cannot change about life. I understand it and I have a grudging respect for it, but it doesn't help me at all. Doesn't sound like it helped you much, either (any more than this probably does).

So I turn to philosophy, aesthetics, and theology to make sense of life, but of course its basic problems don't budge.

Viva l'absurd.

For all the maudlin gloom of rural piety, your grandmother was one of the most life-loving people I've ever met.

You should definitely come visit Madison. According to Bill O'Reilly, we commune with Satan here. It might be just the thing. And either way I do have to properly thank you for introducing me to Wilco.

Elissa said...

You should come. And nobody gets to tell you how to feel, about death or anything else. But you know that. For the record, in my mind, the funeral is primarily for Grandpa, and I think he really appreciated it. The rest of us just need a ritualistic excuse to get together and remember.