Death?

Then nothing. You die and that is it. Game over, man. Game over.
 
Q,

I reject supernaturalism. Certainly if someone dies the material that their body is made of is going to decompose and remain a part of the physical world. That has nothing to do with an afterlife. When I die I will either find out that there is an afterlife or I won't. Until that time I see no reason to guess at what might happen when I die.

-- Dauer
 
Whatever the case may be, I'm thankful for the life and work of the so many martyrs, saints all. Their deaths have enriched my life.

1
And it came to pass after the death of Joshua, that the children of Israel asked the L!RD, saying: 'Who shall go up for us first against the Canaanites, to fight against them?' 2 And L!RD said: 'Judah shall go up; behold, I have delivered the land into his hand.' Judges 1:1-2

וַיְהִי, אַחֲרֵי מוֹת יְהוֹשֻׁעַ, וַיִּשְׁאֲלוּ בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, בַּיהוָה
לֵאמֹר: מִי יַעֲלֶה-לָּנוּ אֶל-הַכְּנַעֲנִי בַּתְּחִלָּה, לְהִלָּחֶם בּוֹ.
וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה, יְהוּדָה יַעֲלֶה: הִנֵּה נָתַתִּי אֶת-הָאָרֶץ,
בְּיָדוֹ.

3 And Judah said unto Simeon his brother: 'Come up with me into my lot, that we may fight against the Canaanites; and I likewise will go with thee into thy lot.' So Simeon went with him. Judges 1:3

וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוּדָה לְשִׁמְעוֹן אָחִיו עֲלֵה אִתִּי בְגֹרָלִי,
וְנִלָּחֲמָה בַּכְּנַעֲנִי, וְהָלַכְתִּי גַם-אֲנִי אִתְּךָ, בְּגוֹרָלֶךָ; וַיֵּלֶךְ
אִתּוֹ, שִׁמְעוֹן.
 
I find biblical passages about holy wars particularly troubling and think they should be transcended. In the time that passage was written there wasn't much separation of church and state so wars were always in the name of one's god or gods. As always, the victors wrote the history books. The most troubling passages for me of course relate to Amalek.

-- Dauer
 
I stand to be corrected but Judaism is about living right today, for today, to please G!d.

Christianity added the heaven/hell eternal punishment or reward thoughts.
 
Dialogue,

Eclectic answered your question for you. I don't think it's good to live life like a donkey that is led by a carrot or threatened with a whip and can find plenty of motivation for being a good person without that. Some people need or desire that and I'm glad it works for them.

Electic Mystic,

the question posed to me was, "then what?" I took this as, "If there is no afterlife, then what?" I did not say that there is no afterlife. I said there is not necessarily an afterlife. If there is no afterlife then I die and that is it. If there is an afterlife, who knows?

In terms of imagination, I'm far more interested in engaging with myth as it can enrich the present moment than I am in guessing at what might happen when I die. I see myth as a projection of psychic content onto external reality and engagement with myth as potentially quite healthy and rewarding.

Wil,

That's the general perspective. In the talmud there are some minority opinions that seem to be more in line with "zomg fear what will happen if you die and were a bad person :O" and certainly one of the backings for punishment by an earthly court (operating within the Jewish legal system) is because it would be so much worse after a person died in gehenna to suffer there, even if it would only be temporary.

-- Dauer
 
Dauer, Wil, why does heaven necessarily have to be thought of as a reward? The incentive to do good is its own incentive... but can't conceptualizing heaven enrich the present moment in other ways?
 
Eclectic,

possibly but I see no need to it. There are other myths that are more engaging for me and in the case of all of them, I accept them as a projection of psychic content onto external reality. None of that necessitates any supernatural statements. Suggesting that that there an after-life, however, does presuppose some sort of external metaphysic. I see no value in that and in terms of my own approach find it logically abhorrent, though when others do it themselves I do not see it as logically abhorrent.

-- Dauer
 
Dauer, Wil, why does heaven necessarily have to be thought of as a reward? The incentive to do good is its own incentive... but can't conceptualizing heaven enrich the present moment in other ways?

This is quite interesting. While I have beliefs about the afterlife, I tend to remain in a state of open-minded acceptance that it will probably be nothing like what I think it is, and if it does not occur at all, that's OK. I've had quite a gift by getting life in the first place!

I agree with Dauer that doing good is its own reward. It feels good to me to do good.

As for heaven- it doesn't *necessarily* have to be reward, but that's how it's generally painted, by both the religious institutions and by practitioners. The focus of most people is on an afterlife of bliss, not of continued learning or service. Because of this, I actually find most descriptions of heaven to be boring. Who doesn't want to continue learning? Not me. I like to learn things. I like challenges and obstacles and growing.

I am not sure how conceptualizing heaven helps in this life, unless it is to imagine a perfect world and then strive to create it through one's own actions. Most people I know who believe in heaven use it as a comfort in times of distress ("Soon I'll be in Paradise!") or as an incentive to do good ("I better do this so I can get to Paradise!")... or in the worst cases, actually feel discontent all the time because they are viewing life on earth as some sort of trial they must endure to get somewhere better.

The way I see it, earthly life can be viewed as an annoying layover in an airport on my way to my "real" destination (a luxury vacation) or I could focus on earthly life as the destination and really *live*. Good, bad, indifferent-- I choose to focus on the experiences of this life. I've had some awesome mystical experiences in this life and I see those as "peaks" and sort of like my heaven. I don't need to die or fret about things not being Paradise to experience all the wonder, awe, and loveliness that imaginings about heaven would entail. And the bonus is that instead of imagining things and waiting for my death (which seems sad to me), I can just live life to the fullest *now*. Not sure about others, but for me, that includes doing good and learning and serving. It makes life wonderful.
 
Dialogue,

Eclectic answered your question for you. I don't think it's good to live life like a donkey that is led by a carrot or threatened with a whip and can find plenty of motivation for being a good person without that. Some people need or desire that and I'm glad it works for them.


Actually, your comparaison has nothing to do here...a donkey follows his whims and desires...he follows what he lusts, and he fears what he sees....

The story is different with the believer....The believer gives up so many pleasures for the sake of God...He/ she isnt a donkey..he/she is a man/ a woman of WILL..

The believer is straving in this world for God's pleasure, and avoiding His dissatisfaction......The believer here is doing good out of love to God.....love that lifs you up beyond any whims or fear, but to loose that love..

In the first place, the true believer seeks God's pleasure...in the day of judgement, when believers will be rewarded by a paradise...it is God's gift to them....a true believer isnt aiming at it more than God's pleasue....if God is pleased with him/her, that's his/her paradise....It is a present from God to those who seek His pleasure....It is a present from God to those who love Him

At the beginning, a believer comes to worship God out of fear or out of greedness, but when he/ she becomes in deep contact with God, and when love to God grows to spread in all his/ her body, the beliver then begins to see all heaven in God's pleasure.

we all feel good by doing good, but havent you asked yourself from where that feeling is coming? and why?

AND, if you think that there is no afterlife, then what's God purpose behind creating this world??? Did He create it in vain???? for no purpose???
 
Actually, your comparaison has nothing to do here...a donkey follows his whims and desires...he follows what he lusts, and he fears what he sees....

The story is different with the believer....The believer gives up so many pleasures for the sake of God...He/ she isnt a donkey..he/she is a man/ a woman of WILL..

I don't think you can generalize all believers that way, and if the issue is will then you don't need an afterlife as a motivator for your ethical actions. If you do need that as a motivator then the donkey applies. Donkeys can be trained to behave/not behave in a certain way by their master, just like humans.

we all feel good by doing good, but havent you asked yourself from where that feeling is coming? and why?

What does that question have to do with an afterlife? I'm sure most if not all people wonder. Some of us are happy not to assume what the answers are.

Now, we come to another important question, if you think that there is no afterlife, then what's God purpose behind creating this world???Did He create it in vain???? for no purpose???

I reject supernaturalism which means no external creator. And why does there have to be a purpose? I'm quite happy finding my own meaning and purpose in life and, given the variety of religion, it seems most people are. We all just rely on different sources for guidance.

-- Dauer
 
we all feel good by doing good, but havent you asked yourself from where that feeling is coming? and why?

I know this is for Dauer, but I hope it's OK if I respond too. Personally, I know that feeling good in doing good comes from God. I think the "why" is that there is the light of God within me, and God is all goodness.

I feel joy in union with God, but I guess I figure if all I get is the union with God I've had during this life, it's still amazing and something for which to be grateful. Anything past this life will be amazing and gratitude inspiring at that moment. I don't see how my looking forward to a gift I haven't received yet helps. It takes my eye off the gift I am receiving in this moment now.

AND, if you think that there is no afterlife, then what's God purpose behind creating this world??? Did He create it in vain???? for no purpose???

I think God inherently creates. I don't think there is a purpose, per se, but rather that God is love and love is inherently creative. I find that beautiful- love for love's sake. Life for life's sake.
 
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Dauer, I recently learned about the freedom-oriented interpretation of the Torah. I don't think freedom is just a modern conceptual interpretation but an ideal originally embedded in the stories. (Probably not news to you like it is to me.) The Exodus from Egypt is such an excellent symbol for freedom, especially since Israel retained its identity within Egypt! I notice that Ishmael's name translates as 'G!d will hear', which I think is a prophecy to all slaves. Actually, all of Israel was sold unto 'Ishmael' until G!d would hear '400' years later -- that is until 'Ishmael'! Israel, as foretold to Abraham, was in Egypt '400' years, starting with sale of Joseph, to Ishmaelites! Even in the sale of him into slavery appears the promise (the name Ishmael) of eventual freedom! So God's promise to the slave is always 'Ishmael' or 'G!d will hear.' In this there is hope and a fire within, to retain oneself when surrounded by doubt.

You are concerned that someone is going to misconstrue the meaning of Amalek. Keep your mental options open about what happened with Amalek and what didn't. I recently was thinking about the laws about slaves and I happened to pick up a seder Haggadah for cheap. I think about Amalek along with the laws in Torah about slaves. I think these Mosaic laws are paths into freedom (not out of it) if followed as intended and are often misunderstood nowadays -- just like Mosaic marriage laws can be misconstrued in a way that harms people instead of helping. Perhaps your fear is that one of your most important principals, freedom and concern for strangers, could be undermined by a misapplication of the war against Amalek, especially since there is now a physical country called Israel?

It is interesting to me that even the word 'Amalek' continues to haunt your hopes in your ideals. It was Amalek who stood between Israel and freedom on the journey from Egypt. Amalek, whose name translates (in Strong's) as 'Dweller in a valley' came out to fight with the pesty upstart Israel in the valley of Rephidim (translates to 'Rests'). Think of it as the valley Laxadaisical. How well this symbolizes the indifference around us, and the inhospitably we meet when trying to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps. There is a lackadaisical and hostile attitude individuals meet when trying to strike out on their own! A stranger or homeless person in a city often has nowhere to go without paying through the nose. I know this from experience. It is your prerogative to think that freedom is an interpretation that comes long after the exodus, or even during the exile to Babylon. I don't think that is the case. I also think that people besides me are going to figure out that Amalek is not a gene or race per-se but represents the ideas and attitudes that hinder the stranger, the poor, and the weak.
 
Dream,

I'm not concerned that someone would misconstrue the meaning of Amalek. I am concerned with the demonization of Amalek as an excuse for genocide. I don't care if Amalek is said not to exist anymore. I don't think it's healthy. There is the possibility Amalek didn't exist at all, that these stories were created in a sense just to fluff up the Israelite ego, as propaganda, and I'm open to that possibility too, but I am not open to the idea that Amalek is to be hated and wiped out. There are some things I'm willing to be allegorical about. The 'liquidation' of another people is not one of them. There is plenty of meaning to be found elsewhere without trying to make the stories of genocide palatable to a modern reader. I think it's better to wrestle with those types of texts as they are and accept that the ancient world was a brutal place where wars were fought in the names of gods and many horrific atrocities were carried out in their names. I don't see any reason to believe that the Israelites were all that different from their neighbors.

This really has nothing to do with various interpretations about freedom or where those interpretations originate. This has to do with a commandment to hate and annihilate a particular group of people. I don't see the Torah as a singular text that was received in a particular place. I see it as something that was produced by a particular culture over time.

There's a story I once read on a rabbi's blog in praise of a synagogue he attended. They had the custom, during the Torah service when a passage was read that was offensive, to boo. While I think it might become disruptive to do so regularly, I think it would be a healthy change of pace on some days.

-- Dauer
 
Hopefully that won't happen. I wouldn't start pulling blocks out from underneath, because you don't know everything that is stacked on top. What impact do you think it would have had upon you had you never heard of the destruction of Amalek? How, for instance, would you have known to reject supernaturalism?
 
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