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Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Michael Jackson's Funeral

I admit it, I watched a little of the Michael Jackson funeral. Actually, I saw air shots of cars in front of the cemetery where the family attended the private service, and I saw the hearse carrying the ornate casket to the Staples Center in Los Angeles. I turned off the television then -- I wasn't really that interested. Michael's life is what it was, and the memorial service didn't promise to add more, at least for me.

I have to admit what little I saw seemed dignified. There were also a few clips from Michael Jackson's videos, and a clip of him two days before he died, rehearsing for what he planned to be his last tour.

This is what I kept thinking as I saw this clip, what I usually think when I hear someone has died: did he have a clue that his time left on earth was so short? I think of the engravings from earlier times, with Death dancing with the finely clad gentlemen and elegant ladies.

I'm sure the memorial was important, and many people gave many heartfelt messages of hope and fond memories. Still, whimsical as I am, I wonder what Michael might say if he could have had five more minutes to speak at his own memorial. Would he speak of the afterlife? What insights might he carry?

But of course, there are no insights from the dead to be had by us now living. I don't believe dead people speak; I don't believe in ghosts, or mediums, or seances. Hamlet says in his *To Be or Not to Be* soliloquy that we do not know what comes after death, and therefore it is better to live although life is difficult.

As a culture, I don't think we spend much time really thinking of what happens to us after we die. There are so many, many distractions, but let me suggest that thinking of other things, spiritual things, is essential. But how does one decide what is secure truth?

Hmm, too long an answer to give in this short blog. I'll just mention two things. First, I came to my faith through an objective study, the outlines of which I've put HERE. Second, I firmly believe that if you ask God, whoever He might be and if He exists, to show you who He is, He will answer your prayer if you've prayed it sincerely.


Here is Hamlet:

To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause: there's the respect
That makes calamity of so long life;
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
The pangs of dispriz'd love, the law's delay,
The insolence of office and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? Who would these fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscover'd country from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pith and moment
With this regard their currents turn away,
And lose the name of action.--Soft you now!
The fair Ophelia! Nymph, in thy orisons
Be all my sins remember'd.

(Hamlet, act 3 scene 1)


Anne L.B. said...

"Ultimately, it is our conception of death which answers all the questions life poses to us." ~ Unknown

Philangelus said...

In all fairness, in the parable of Lazarus and Dives, Jesus (well, Abraham) says that even if someone were to come from the dead, people wouldn't change their minds about their behavior. We saw Samuel get summoned by the witch of Endor, and Saul didn't change his behavior afterward (plus he lost the kingship.)

I didn't see any of the funeral. I was out with the kids, and when I got back, I read comments about it on Twitter and was just as glad I have no television. I imagine he received a sendoff that matched the life he lived: glitzy, well-produced, star-studded, but in the end tragic.

Rosslyn Elliott said...

Interesting that you post Hamlet's solilioquy. It has been on my mind a lot lately, especially "the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, "the proud man's contumely," and the spurns that patient merit of the unworthy takes."

I'm glad I have more reason to hope than Hamlet.