Grim Forecast


The last enemy to be destroyed is death. (1 Corinthians 15:26)

The last enemy to be destroyed is death. (1 Corinthians 15:26)

Death is a pretty interesting invention. First of all, it was an accidental invention, kind of like penicillin was accidentally invented from bread mold. Nobody was looking to invent death; it was an unexpected bonus from sin, which was the original invention. Everybody knew what to do with sin and appreciated that you could recycle it, but nobody quite knew what to do with death, which, in most cases, can be used only once.

Death has made some unforeseen but valuable contributions. Maybe the best thing is that death assures that even the biggest idiots have only a limited shelf life. They may make life miserable for a while, but soon they’re going to bite the dust like everybody else. In fact, death is the best way that we’ve found to keep the planet from general human overload. Without a reliable system of termination, the world would be awash in old people who would expect to collect a monthly social security check like forever. That would be a bummer for the increasingly smaller percentage of working age folks who’d have to foot the bills. Death is like an ongoing yard sale that helps humanity keep the garage clear enough to park the car. And as Woody Allen has noted, “Dying is one of the few things that can be done as easily lying down.”

Yet even with all the nifty benefits that come with death (like heavy metal lyrics, Elvis impersonators, life insurance payoffs, and Mount Rushmore), overall death still pretty much sucks. There’s this whole Disney circle of life idea that death is just a natural part of life, which is totally bogus. That’s like saying that a sirloin steak is a natural part of being a cow. As the famous philosopher Brook Shields once said, “When you die you lose a very important part of your life.” The point here is that death is the end of life. This is not a great proposition for those of us who would just as soon be alive.

To avoid death humans have tried lots of different things. A popular strategy is to kill the other guys before they kill you. On the large scale, this takes the form of all-out war. The irony of this, of course, is that you actually increase the chances of your own death in trying to prevent it. Another popular strategy is medicine, which can postpone death for a little while, but usually means that when you do end up dying anyway you’re often stoned out of your mind and can’t appreciate it. Exercise and smart eating habits are also popular strategies for putting off death as long as possible. And though there is evidence that a healthy lifestyle can lengthen life expectancy, it usually means that you’ll simply leave a healthier corpse behind when you do inevitably kick the bucket.

The good news is that death now comes with accessories. There are a number of death-related options available. The basic package is death, the here today gone tomorrow deal. To that you can add resurrection if you want to. There are two kinds of resurrection to choose from: one is resurrection followed by judgment and ejection into the lake of fire. This is called the “second death,” a rather extreme option for those who like dying and would enjoy doing it twice. The other option is resurrection to eternal life. This means you die first, then are raised up again and given a new body that has an extended power train warranty. This option also comes with a complimentary continental breakfast. The last option (and some say the best) is to opt out of death altogether and take the rapture directly to the body works. Unfortunately, this option is reserved for a small few who are lucky enough to survive the antichrist, the tribulation, and health care reform.

For those of us who haven’t quite warmed up to the death thing, the fact that it’s on its way out is encouraging. Death has never been one of my favorite things. Like Woody Allen said, “I’m not afraid to die. I just don’t want to be there when it happens.”


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