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The After Life
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spacer Warning, there are movie spoilers in this discussion.

I was watching Gladiator just today and got to thinking about the afterlife. In the movie, the main character's wife and child are brutally murdered. It was later revealed that they were severely abused just prior to death. However, towards the end of the movie, as the main character is about to die also, we see his glimpse into the afterlife. His loved ones are not in their mutilated, abused state, but rather as he remembered them from their prime. All was pastoral and peaceful. Never mind how they died, any of the three.

In Titanic , a similar utopian view of the afterlife is presented. All of the people who went down with the Titanic are reunited in the afterlife, at a moment in time that can only really be viewed as "when they were last together". The boat is magically transformed from the barnacle encrusted rusting hulk at the bottom of the ocean, to it's maiden voyage state. All was well and beautiful with the world.

In Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon , Jen's master, the Jade Fox, stings Li Mu Bai with a poisoned needle. As he is dying, he professes love for Yu Shu Lien which he has not been able to do previously (although both of them felt it all along). Jen runs off to make an antidote, but fails to make it back before Li Mu Bai dies. Later, Jen herself jumps off a bridge and floats off into the afterlife (or death at the bottom of the mountain, depending on your take of the closing of the movie).

All three of these movies express the human need and hunger for some insight into the afterlife. We all want there to be an afterlife. Some want that afterlife to finally settle who was right and who was wrong in this life under the auspices of a divine judge. Some want all of the ills of this life to be removed from the spirit so that those who were together in this life might once again be together (and presumably for all of eternity). Others believe that this life is all you get, there is no afterlife, you just turn into worm food. Still others see the soul being reborn into the next generation of beings, at a station that was determined by their actions in their previous life.

I found myself thinking about the afterlife after watching Gladiator because the hero is reunited with his murdered wife and son. As any who have read some of the rest of my background section of this web site, I find myself now divorced. Given this, how would I find my afterlife?

Being Christian, I have been taught to believe that there is an afterlife for all of us. All will see heaven where God reigns in all of his glory. There, in heaven, before God, all will be judged on the last day. Those that are deemed "good" will stay and all others will be cast into hell, where they will have to live with the memory of Heaven and how nice it was there compared to where they are (in hell).

I'm not sure this is a particularly good view of heaven. If we are allowed to get to heaven with all of our earthly memories, I tend to think that we would just screw things up all over again. We cannot just be split into "good" and "bad" and the "bad" part goes to hell, and the "good" part goes to heaven. Would the "good" part really be us?

What I have come to believe is that we will all enter into heaven and will be put in a chair. There, we will review our entire life (hopefully in something better than HDTV), with the full knowledge of what God's plan for us was. We will then have the "blinders" of all that is bad removed from our eyes. After the review is over, we will know whether we served God's purpose for us or not. With that knowledge, in the presence of the truth that is God, we will judge ourselves as either fit for heaven, destined for hell. As no one could be confused at that point, in that place, there will not be any "gray" issues. All will be clear.

And that brings me back to my question, what will my afterlife be like? I can but hope and pray that all of this pain and suffering was for some good purpose. This rings particularly true to me if the pain turns into a motivator to make things better. Then, hopefully, our Earthly view of our lives will by their very nature come to align themselves with God's will.

For the record, unless I remarry, I'll be single in the afterlife.

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