The other day, S. and I were talking about genealogy and my dad’s profound lack of interest in it, at least at first. The amount of ministers in our family has changed his mind somewhat, but I was telling S. that it’s lead to this profoundly strange realization. Both my dad and his brother, my Uncle B., believe that reincarnation is possible. That’s not so strange I guess.
But the idea terrifies my dad. He is terrified that all these recurring ministers are him–that it explains why he’s such a good preacher; it’s not that he has a talent for it, but that he’s had lifetimes of practice–but that he keeps getting sent back because he’s fucked up in some fundamental way over and over again. That there’s some lesson he’s refusing to learn. But since he doesn’t know what it is, he’s destined to be back here again. That’s why, he says, he wants me to keep his file cabinet full of old sermons, in case he shows up again in my lifetime. I can give him the sermons and he won’t have to start from scratch yet again.
I cannot imagine having such faith in the fundamental goodness of a god that you would devote lifetimes preaching on behalf of it while at the same time believing that it would leave you lonely here in the world over and over again.
Here’s what I know–my family is a bunch of nosy, bossy jerks with boundary issues. If there any any ability to go on after death, it is simply not plausible that I have been left with only this shrinking pool of people to meddle in my affairs. I have faith in that–if they can be with me, they are. Hopefully, they’re polite enough to leave the room when I masturbate.
I sometimes get lonely. It’s human nature. But I never feel really alone.
And I feel bad for my dad, that this thing that is such a huge and important part of his life–religion–is not enough to overcome his suspicion that he’s been left behind again and again.