A couple months ago I received an email from someone who stumbled onto TempleStudy.com. It read in part,
[The Bible] is purely a creation of man to placate the ego’s fear of death and nothing more. All religion was invented to buffer the ego against the fear of death.
That’s certainly one way to think of death. Another way to think of it is that religion gives meaning to life and death. Hugh Nibley often quoted a poem by A.E. Housman about man’s preoccupation with death:
. . . men at whiles are sober
And think by fits and starts,
And if they think, they fasten
Their hands upon their hearts.
The prominent literary scholar Harold Bloom once said,
What is the essence of religion? … Religion rises inevitably from our apprehension of our own death. To give meaning to meaninglessness is the endless quest of all religion.
I recently came upon two vastly different modes of thinking about death. The juxtaposition of these two starkly different views is very interesting. [Read more…]