Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The "mounting death toll"

Television, in its fractal way, brought three disparate issues together this week.
First, the latest in the endless chain of catastrophes buried some folks in a mudslide, and the grim facts soon turned the impossible rescue mission into an impossible body recovery operation.   
Second, some progress has been made in locating and identifying the remains of still-unaccounted-for U.S. military war dead.   
Third, the haystack needle search for a missing airliner has triggered angry demonstrations by families of the missing.

The first event, so small in terms of “death toll,” is made intimate as we see a father’s anguish.  Empathy tells us his heart is holding onto the hope that a miraculous event has sheltered his child in a pocket of air where he will be found alive.  We can all clearly see workers struggling to move through the suffocating, ubiquitous slime to search.  It’s exhausting, agonizing, dreadfully slow, and so difficult, estimates for completing the search have extended into autumn.

The DOD is proud of having finally consolidated the bureaucracies responsible for communicating with survivors of soldiers, sailors, and airmen missing in action from a chain of wars going all the way back to “The Big One.”  Some vets who missed getting “decorated” have finally been awarded their due, and some more remains identified.  We saw footage of soldiers sorting through trays of dirt from archaeological type digs looking for fragments, as part of an ongoing operation in sites all over the world.

When the jetliner disappeared, precarious, justifiably paranoid politics may have misled location efforts in the crucial first days.  The search that has been going full tilt since the first hours has mushroomed into a vast, expensive, multinational effort with no end in sight, even though everyone involved admits too much time has passed to expect success.  Meanwhile, relatives of the missing are actually angry with their government for not “solving” this.

What do all these people want?  The popular word for it is “closure.” 
The silent emphasis is on the second syllable.

Decades after an event, survivors will weep to finally feel the “relief” of “knowing for sure.”  It’s just so hard for us to actually accept—believe in—death.  But, there it is again.  Every time, in fact.

Why do people care so much about the fate of carcasses?

One of many “hard sayings” of Jesus was “Let the dead bury the dead.” 
What did He mean?  Do we not know? 

But, why do folks who don’t bat an eye at a growing list of abominations and slaughter seem so dedicated to “knowing” what became of corpses they knew personally, or were responsible for nationally?

“Remains” is such a revealing term. 
Here is what’s left, after the person has ceased operating.  Every culture has ghost stories about what might happen to the “soul” or “spirit,” based entirely in fear and ignorance.  First, they don’t understand the difference between soul and spirit, and have never consulted the single document on Earth that explains such things; but, they know what happens to the flesh, and because that’s all they really get, that’s the focus of their concern. 
For long ages, folks have made a big deal out of what must be done to “properly” and “respectfully” dispose of human cadavers.  Even now, when “science so-called” has convinced most of them we’re just animals, and it’s all just “tissue,” most people have strong visceral and emotional responses to the issue.  Paul makes plain in Romans, they know deep down what’s right and wrong; they just can’t get it to work right because of that whole dead to the spirit thing.

Being born again, raised to new life through baptism, is the only Way, according to The Master, to find eternal Life, and to be transformed, by the renewing of your mind, into someone who knows the Truth, and has been set free--free from the law of sin and death.  Being one of these new creatures calls for full-time focus on a greater reality than the soap opera being acted out around us. 
Our “closure” came as we sank beneath the water.  Now we live again, but not as our own.  

When someone close to us dies, we rejoice to know there is no doubt of their membership in The Kingdom.  If a loved one has not been saved, then we know they will rise again, with all mankind, for judgment. 
Whether we know the exact time, or the circumstances, or get to have a “proper” burial, death is the certain end of us all.  What happens next is the important part, and the grandest funeral ever celebrated won’t affect that outcome at all.

Here's this week's video treat