"The first step to eternal life is you have to die." -Tyler Durden in Fight Club, by Chuck Palahniuk
I like the idea of death being linked to eternity. I especially like the idea of this as it relates to reality and our present-day-existence (and living fully in that brief present-day-existence).
I was talking to a friend last night about death as it relates to churches and how funny it is that so many churches (and Christians) fear death as a sort of closing chapter or finality to a life and world in which they have little control over. We talked about how things--and people, and institutions, and ideas--need to die, how it's part of the natural process and a natural (evolving) world. It must happen before anything new can sprout up in its place. Sometimes, before anything good can grow, too.
But for some reason, many of us are surprised, aghast, and even offended when death comes in various forms to ourselves and our ideas and old ways of living our lives (as if we didn't think it was possible to ever end). My friend was telling me how he would go to Catholic church with his parents and how so much of it was just rigid, unchanging, elderly people--a sea of white heads clenching tight to the old ways of living (which are not to be confused with the ways of Scripture, for they are completely different than this). "They mean well," he said. "I know they do...but..." It's not going to last forever. Sooner or later, that physical building, that physical space, that relentless refusal to adapt and learn from life's new lessons (and God's new and ever-changing world) finally caves in and collapses. No more structures. No more budgets. No more people. At least, not in this particular place anymore.
Many Christians are afraid of these days (and claim it's a sign of the apocalypse). Me? I think it's just a sign that we've been doing church wrong for way too long and that our forms of spirituality are not connecting (at all) with the creative surge of life and humanity. And I think it's a good thing, I think it's what needs to happen before this world will be made anew. Before the so-called New Jerusalem will be a place right here, right now, on Earth. Theologians call this a realized eschatology; I call it living life, eternally. Dead, but really, alive.