Fear of Death

If you fear death, then you are afraid of the unknown.  Nobody has come back from death to tell us what waits for us on the other side, except Jesus.  So the unknown scares us.  Our imaginations create more nightmares than reality could ever conjure.

If you have no fear of death, then you either have a belief that you will be protected upon death or you have convinced yourself that you do not care.  There are many variations of beliefs and they range from weak to strong.  But saying that you do not care sometimes is just another way of attempting to ignore the issue.

For those who address the certainty of death, there does not appear to be any downside in following a faith that protects you from the unknown by substituting a known belief.  This known will not be based on anything you can see or touch, but it will be based entirely on faith.  There is no penalty for believing in something after death.

But there are two problems if you do not have a faith-based system to remove your fears. (1) You will be afraid of death because you will have no belief to counter the unknown of death.  Even if the faith you choose to follow is incorrect, it does not matter.  You still will be able to eliminate fear of death during your lifetime.  (2) If you are still thinking after you die, your faith matters even more after death.  Your fears will continue because you are still thinking.  Only your faith can eradicate those fears.  Remember those nightmares created by your imagination, mentioned earlier.  Only your faith can calm your troubled thoughts.

I chose Christianity as my faith-based system.  I know that some Christians believe that they have the only system that saves you, but I don’t take that extreme position.  A fundamental and elitist position about faith is an extreme approach, and I believe in moderation even with my Christianity.  I do not propose an exclusionary policy where my belief is the only belief that works.

The truth is that I don’t know if your faith will work or not.  But since I don’t know, I can’t tell you not to believe in a faith other than Christianity.  Your faith is probably better than no faith at all.  But you should analyze your faith to determine if it removes your fear of death during your lifetime.  Does it provide you something to believe in that is so powerful that it can turn chaos into peace?  Does it soothe your conscience so that you do not carry your sins across the threshold of death?  Does it offer a guide you can trust to show you the path through darkness?

I do believe that Christianity is the best approach for me, and I will stick with that approach even under extreme pressures to relent.  Christianity is the only faith I know about that offers everything that is required to defeat the chaos of death.  My belief in Jesus and God is on a solid foundation.  It is important to note that a high percentage of Christians do not have the powerful belief in Jesus that is required to remove the fear of death during life and especially the fear after death.

The reason why Christianity works best for me is because it provides Jesus, a kind, moderate person, as an intermediary for God, who was very intimidating in the Old Testament.  Jesus is human and is more approachable.  I look forward to meeting Jesus upon the moment of my death.  Since I truly believe in Jesus, I also believe that my sins are forgiven.  He sacrificed Himself so that would happen.  If I did not believe in forgiveness of sins, I would be regretting all the bad things that I had done during my life.  And when I am still thinking after death, since I truly believe in Jesus, I will think of Jesus instead of the thousand other things that would lead to torment.  Jesus saves me from tormenting myself by substituting Himself as a sacrifice for all my transgressions.  Jesus also will be my trusted guide through the darkness of death.  I know of no other religion or philosophy that does that.

There are many who profess to be Christians, but they do not truly believe that Jesus removes their sin debt in full and that Jesus is the intermediary to God with a human face and heart.  Those who do not truly believe: (1) will live a life in fear of death and (2) if they are still thinking after death, will be tormented with fear in the afterlife.  Even if they do not believe they will still be thinking after death, they will have had a better life because of Christianity.  But if they are thinking after death, it is critical to have something to hold onto, otherwise fear of the unknown would drag them into a whirlpool of despair and torment.

Fear of death is important to remove during our lifetime, but it is much more dangerous to carry fear into death when we are still thinking without our senses to distract us.  Fear will lead to self-torment without any hope of salvation.  A strong belief system may save you from both of these fears.  I believe that Christianity offers the strongest protection system against fear and I highly recommend it.

Like I said earlier, Jesus is the only one who has ever come back from the dead to tell us what will happen.  So if you truly believe in your faith system, it may erase fear during life.  But I honestly do not know what will happen with your faith system after death.  All I know is that Jesus came back from the dead to show Paul, a hardened non-believer, the truth, the way, and the light.  I believe in Jesus with all my heart and soul.  I do not know exactly what will happen, but I do expect to feel the presence of Jesus after I die.  I do know that your faith, whatever it is, has to be very powerful to survive the chaos that awaits you at death’s door.  But I know nothing more than this: Jesus died and returned from the dead to tell us what He saw.  That’s good enough for me.

Historical Accuracy about Jesus

There is evidence that Jesus lived and died within the boundaries of today’s Israel, since he is referenced by the Roman historian, Publius Cornelius Tacitus, and by the writings of a Jew, Flavius Josephus, who was born when Jesus died.  Josephus was a Jewish military leader, who later became a historian for the Romans.  He probably is the best source we have for what happened during the first century in Palestine.

There are two references by Josephus to Jesus. The main citation is from Josephus’ Antiquities of the Jews 18:3.3, popularly called the Testimonium Flavium.  It says in part: “Now, there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works–a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles. He was Christ; Pilate…condemned him to the cross…and the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.”  We know that after Christians took over the Roman Empire, alterations were made in documents.  There is no guarantee that these writings of Josephus were not modified.

The second reference is found in a passing mention of Jesus, which is believed by more historians to be authentic.  That text is found in Antiquities 20:9.1, which states, “Festus was now dead, and Albinus was but upon the road; so he assembled the Sanhedrin of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, the so-called Christ, whose name was James, and some others; and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned.”

There is a general lack of documentation on just about everything during the first century in Palestine.  Jerusalem’s destruction by the Romans in 70 AD, might have been a reason for this lack of documentation.

The gospels in the Bible are important to study for the life of Jesus, but they have contradictions and are more important in developing faith than in representing precise historical facts.  For example, both Matthew and Luke relate Jesus to ancestral lines of the patriarchs, but there is limited verifiable data for this claim.  Further, it is not likely that Caesar Augustus ordered a census for his entire empire, nor even a regional census requiring citizens to register in their ancestral homes.  King David lived a thousand years earlier and requiring people to track their ancestors back that far would not likely have been a requirement by Augustus.  Jesus probably came from Nazareth, rather than Bethleham.

But the facts provided in the gospel are not meant to be historically accurate.  These books in the Bible are designed to provide a religious foundation for believers in Christianity.  The stories are designed to carry a much deeper meaning than just being a history of the time of Jesus.

Trust Me

Trust Me was a television series that began airing on TNT on January 26, 2009, which was not renewed for the second season.  “Trust me,” is a famous one-liner used by many individuals and groups, but my favorite is:  “Trust me, I’m with the federal government, and I’m here to help you.”  Americans have not renewed their trust in their government just like the producers of the show.

Over the last few decades, trust of the federal government and politicians has deteriorated to a very low point.  I doubt if “trust me” is very effective anymore.  Some people even worry about anybody who says, “trust me,” since it may be evidence that if there were no reason to distrust them, they wouldn’t have said it.

The sequester, which leads to automatic budget cuts, was a failure by both Congress and the White House, much of which occurred because they don’t trust each other either.  Trust is lacking pretty much across the board.  More than half the federal workforce could be furloughed over the next six months, according to Federal Times.  The strategies to handle the furloughs vary from agency to agency.  The Department of Defense plans to furlough primarily civilians, while other agencies are targeting furloughs to retain critical activities and offices.  This probably could have been avoided if the legislature trusted the executive branch and vice versa.  And the automatic requirements in the sequester might have been modified if the drafters trusted the government to monitor itself.

The sequester will apply cuts across the board:  about 8% for defense and about 5% for other programs.  This is expected to cut $85 billion from the federal budget, but even though it is a fraction of our debt and the entire budget, it is a start in the right direction.  It is past time to turn down the spigot, running up about a trillion more in debt each year.  Even if the forced cuts are painful, they have to be made.  Perhaps, trust can return within and outside our government if we start reducing the annual increase to our federal deficit.  If we turn the corner away from excessive spending, the taxpayers may be more receptive to increasing taxes.  The sequester may be a start to bringing trust back into the federal government.

Only time will tell whether “trust me, I’m with the federal government” is accepted by American citizens like it was decades ago.  The government culture has to change along with decreased spending.  Federal employees must consider taxpayers as their customers and start focusing on providing good customer service.

Totalitarianism is the End Game

The older generation typically is unhappy with subsequent generations, labeling each one in succession as being more liberal than the last. When Elvis Presley came onto the music scene, the older generation thought that the younger generation had “gone to the dogs.” Of course, Elvis is an angel when compared with heavy metal musicians and today’s rappers. So should we dismiss the older generations as all being out of touch with the current reality? Or should we analyze this as an evolutionary process, where each follow-on generation has to go further to the left in order to shock the latest older generation?

As most civilizations develop, like democracy in America, it starts with Founding Fathers who are wrapped in a very radical cloth. These early Americans were willing to die for freedom from England, and branded this new country with a Bill of Rights that guaranteed these newfound freedoms. These revolutionary leaders were on the cutting edge of new-age thinking, and they went way outside the box to form a republican form of government.

As time marched on, conservatives took control of government, corporations, and the culture. Everything ran like clockwork with work and family life becoming a consistent daily activity. Any radical tendencies were suppressed by peer or societal pressures.

But as each day became like “Groundhog Day” with a certain degree of monotony, the younger generations started to rebel against the old guards. At this point, each generation became increasingly bold in an effort to distance itself from the prior generations. This was indeed an evolutionary process headed down the road to a more liberal destination. We can certainly recognize this, looking back over the last six decades. The traditional standards of politics, religions, movies, music, and family-lives have all been modified substantially.

So where does this trend toward liberalism end? Well, unfortunately, it ends with the death of that system. In our case, the democratic experiment will implode as liberalism is pushed to its socialistic extremes where you don’t have to work, you don’t have to study, and you don’t have to do anything in order to be entitled to live in America. Everything will be free… except suddenly your freedom will be gone. All your freedoms will evaporate into thin air, replaced by a repressive slavery imposed by a totalitarian government. And then you, now a slave, will have to do whatever the government tells you to avoid being sent to a death camp.

But it is truly an evolutionary process from a radical concept of freedom to a conservative style of living to a progressively liberal lifestyle and finally to slavery under a totalitarian rule. Even if you know it is coming, you probably cannot stop it from happening. But if we were smarter, we definitely could slow it down. But unfortunately, that is not the case.