"So," they say, "nobody's perfect!"
But the Vinedresser won't buy that.
Given the opportunity, He will trim the unproductive suckers and shape the branches so each one will bask in Sonlight.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

What Lies Beyond?

Whether that is a question, or a statement, it reflects a world view. As a statement, it often suggests a Sci-Fi sort of idea, inferring humanity should “boldly go where no man has gone before.” As a question, it presents the defining difference between humans and the animal kingdom.
Our black lab Maddy perpetually strains at her leash, attempting to “boldly go” where her nose has not—or has—gone before. In a cute, and at times frustrating way, her quest for “what lies beyond” speaks eloquently of our common desire to push limits, or stretch leashes. But that primal drive bears little commonality with the “...beyond?” quest humans pursue to cosmic scale.
Does a rabbit clamped in a wolf’s jaws think about joining her ancestors? While no one can know with certainty, even the most ardent animal-rights people probably doubt it. Among humans, only those militant atheists who refuse to admit even the remotest possibility of a hereafter are jaded enough to deny having any such thoughts.
But the question remains, “What lies beyond?” While the atheist confidently insists, “Nothing!” the agnostic will more humbly admit, “I don’t know.” Followers of every religion or philosophy will likely bend your ears with a monologue of their afterlife beliefs. And militant believers might just hold a scimitar to your throat, demanding your acquiesce to their faith.
Relegating atheists to the lunatic fringe, as they do believers in God, we are left with the balance of humanity who maintain some sort of “hereafter” belief. A few of us philosophise about it, and still fewer philosophers take their thoughts on the subject quite seriously indeed. They’re the ones who publish weighty tomes that could be condensed to four words, “I don’t really know,” or five words, for those who do not deign to use contractions.
Many of us strive to live good lives in hopes that “the Man upstairs” will say we’re okay. Even avowed Christ-followers often fall into that category.
A few of us say we believe the Bible’s take on the subject, though we “Bible believers” seldom agree on what that means. And most of us who say we agree on a few key points, fight over which points they are.
Only one person ever claimed with authority to know the true answer to our quandary. He alone knew from experience, since he alone came from where we’re hoping to go. The very people he came to redeem, however, rejected him, and cheered while their religious leaders murdered him. And this, after he proved he was their Messiah (God’s anointed One) with numerous, well-documented signs and miracles.
For those who accept the Good Book as God’s inspired, holy word, and even for those who respect its position among the world’s “holy books,” the Bible recounts God’s historic dealings with his rebellious, chosen people. And it specifies scores of prophecies, in great detail, about the coming Messiah. In fact, most of those who have carefully investigated the Biblical narration, without prejudice, have accepted its truth, and many of them have personally experienced the redemption it offers.
They are the joyful ones for whom, “What Lies Beyond!” is not fiction, science or otherwise, but a firm promise from the Creator of the universe. A mind open to God’s truth is all it takes to join them.

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