Wednesday, 9 September 2015

The dead are a living reality

It seems natural and spontaneous to humans to regard the dead (the ancestors) as a living and powerful reality, sometimes present, sometimes accessible; retaining an interest in the living world and sometimes having some role to play in it.

Christians are divided on this subject - for example some denominations prohibit prayers for the dead, mainly on the grounds that the living can do nothing to assist them - but it may be that practices which support an awareness of the dead will support belief in the reality of life after death, and sustain hope in the expectation of Heaven.

In a modern secular context, to be interested in the dead and to claim a knowledge of their condition, or to communicate with them, is regarded as the most pitiful type of wishful thinking; but even the slightest knowledge of the many historical societies with such interest contradicts this.

An active interest in the next world and in the dead is accused of encouraging escapism, an avoidance of harsh realities and in general rendering people unfit for this world. Those who maintain a belief in the importance of the dead must expect to be laughed-at and despised for their embarrassing childishness (unless they are 'ethnic', when such beliefs are not just permitted but admired and praised - demonstrating that secular moderns covertly regard ethnics as pitifully, laughably juvenile)

Yet there has never in history been a more escapist, avoidant and all-round unfit culture than our current society of media-addicted passive spectators, fans and gossipers! The faddish, effete decadence of modernity stands in the sharpest possible contrast with the enduring courage and toughness of societies where the dead were regarded as real and important.

It is secular modernity, with its hedonistic alienated nihilism, that has lost touch with reality - and is projecting its own deepest faults onto the religious.

Indeed, what is really going-on is that those who despair are accusing those who do not despair of living in a state of delusion - the secular modern accusation against religion is not so much of dumb-happy avoidance, as of a failure to acknowledge the reality of utter hope-less-ness.

For modernity, the definition of courage has become to acknowledge and embrace existential despair as the underlying reality.

To the extent that acknowledgement of the continued reality of the dead is part of a world view of hope, engagement and eternal human relationships; then naturally it needs to be mocked and scorned and embarrassed out of existence.