Most Muslims don’t want to die. That’s why they have so many doctors.
Most Christians, Hindus, and most of those of every other religion don’t want to die either.
In all religions there is a paradox. If the life after death is so wonderful while this life is complete garbage, why aren’t they all jumping off cliffs and tall buildings or supergluing themselves to the buffers in shunting yards?
Why is there such wailing and misery at funerals? They should all be like those New Orleans jazz funerals. Religious funerals should be less of the doom-laden ‘We are dust, and to dust we shall return’ and more of the ‘Yay! He made it to the good place!’
They aren’t though, on the whole. Because most people, religious or not, don’t want to die. They don’t want their friends or family to die either.
The mad ones do want to die. Those idiots who run to sign up with ISIS are doing so because they think that death at the hands of the Infidel will guarantee them 72 virgins and a bottle of flat stale beer (He doesn’t have to give them the good stuff, they aren’t supposed to have tried any before). It does not say whether the 72 virgins are male or female. Could be 72 fat geeks, pallid from an eternity in their parents’ basements playing World of Warcraft. Oh wait – World of Jihadcraft.
Maybe it’s the same 72 virgins each time but they all look like Bella Emberg’s ugly sister so no Semtex-shredded Jihadi ever touches them. Or perhaps they are 72 stunningly beautiful women but still the same 72 each time because everyone who gets to meet them does so in instalments. When the vest blows, I wonder which part arrives in Heaven first? I bet Heaven’s janitor has a hard time of it. Boom. Then the tannoy. ‘Clean up at the gates again.’
Anyway. They really do want to die. But this is not something unique to the lunatic fringe of Islam.
Some religions believe in reincarnation. The ancient Celtic and related peoples believed so absolutely in reincarnation that they would loan money to each other and agree that the loan would be repaid in the next life. I wish I knew a Celtic bank manager. So they didn’t care about death. It was just an inconvenience.
They also believed absolutely in predestination. This made them fearsome foes. No point in weighing themseves down with a lot of armour. If today was your day to die, or lose an arm, or get a bruise, no amount of armour would stop it happening. If today was not your day to die etc, then there was no need of armour. They fought battles knowing that whatever happened to them was predestined to happen anyway so there was no need to hold back.
But I don’t think the ancient Celts wanted to die. They accepted the inevitability of it but they did not deliberately seek it. They would never have been seen dead in a Semtex vest.
What makes people want to die? Well, I nicked the following from Farcebok (a friend-link from one of my other incarnations). It’s a snippet from a book called ‘The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire’ which I once tried to read but the start, at least, is so damn dry. Seems it livens up later. I’ll try it again. Here’s the clip –
“…the fervour of the first Christians, who, according to the lively expression of Sulpicius Severus, desired martyrdom with more eagerness than his own contemporaries solicited a bishopric.” Apparently not an exaggeration (at least from the Roman Empire perspective, which absolutely could not fathom the motives behind such zeal and fanaticism) because it went on with references to some thrown into the amphitheater and promptly irritating the lions to ravage them; cheerfully jumping into the fire (kindled for their execution) and actually seemed to enjoy the sensation of being burned alive; some coming forward to the magistrates and voluntarily accusing themselves, ect. The educated philosophers, themselves were baffled as to the Christian motive and were left to conclude: “…such an eagerness to die as the strange result of obstinate despair, of stupid insensibility, or of superstitious frenzy. ‘Unhappy men!’ exclaimed the proconsul Antonius to the Christians of Asia, ‘unhappy men! If you are thus weary of your lives, is it so difficult for you to find ropes and precipices?'”
Those early Christians were not Celts (as I recall, of Northern Germanic origin) nor were they British or Viking or Maori nor any of the other fighting peoples of the world. They were Christians but they, and their religion, originated in the Middle East. They wanted out of their lives and into the Heaven beyond.
It’s not the religion. It’s the people.
Converts to a new religion – whatever it is – tend to be ultra-zealous about it all. They take it all literally, whereas those brought up within a religion have mostly learned the value of interpretation. Still, even Christianity occasionally throws up a Westboro Baptist Church from time to time. Even out there on the fringe, the Westboro loons don’t want to die. Their founder died recently and I’m betting his reward, if there is one, is more like 72 red hot pokers. Something those ISIS loonies should consider – after all that dismemberment, beheading, crucifixtion, live burials and all of innocent and defenceless people, do they really believe they will go to Heaven for doing all that? Really? Which god are they really worshipping, if he rewards that sort of thing? Think, people. Stroke your beards if it will help. He’s not called the Great Deceiver for nothing, you know.
Christianity does not approve of homosexuality. It says so several times in the Bible but it does not say in there that gay people should have walls pushed over on them, or be thrown from cliffs or hanged from a crane. It’s more of a ‘Gonnae no’ dae that?’ rather than ‘See you pal, you’re gettin’ it, so y’are‘. There is a big difference between ‘ I disapprove of the way you live’ and ‘The way you live is wrong, you must die’ (medics take note).
The Quran does not mention hanging gay people from a crane because the mechanical cranes had not been invented back then. ‘Hang them from a wading bird’ would just have confused everyone.
Religions in general do not approve of homosexuality because organised religion depends on an ever increasing congregation… but that’s a different argument entirely.
The Westboros do not just disapprove of homosexuality. They actively wave banners and shout obscenities at the funerals of soldiers (who were almost all not gay) because they believe that defending the country they live in is tantamount to encouraging blokes everywhere to go in through the out door.
Most Christians do not do this. They disapprove because their religion tells them it is wrong but they nag individual gay people or tell them they will spend eternity having things shoved up their bums (like that’s a deterrent!) or other frivolous things I could think up. I’m on the Ledaig tonight, incidentally. Lightly smoky and pale in colour and at a far better price in Morrison’s than in any other shop in town.
The point is that Christianity does not call for the death of anyone who does not agree with them. It used to, in the Old Testament, but Jesus showed up the New Testament, gatecrashed a wedding, boosted the booze supply and generally gave out a message of ‘Hey, just chill, guys. Stop killing people, yeah?’ then he stuck flowers on the end of all the Roman Soldiers’ little swords. Didn’t help. They killed him anyway.
Christians nowadays mostly don’t want to die. Most of them don’t want to kill anyone else either. Sure, they disagree with a lot of people (including me) on many things and they can get quite vociferous about it but I’ve never had a death threat from a Christian. No matter how far I take my inherent blasphemic nature. They have never threatened to kill whole groups of people just because they think their lifestyles are wrong. Take note, medical profession.
Islam still has that ‘kill them all’ instruction but most Muslims don’t do that. Most just live their lives and prefer to try for conversion rather than extermination, or just ignore the rest of us entirely. For the lunatic fringe, they believe that death at the hands of their perceived enemy is the only true way into Heaven. It is what they crave.
In that clip from ‘Decline and Fall’, the Romans cannot fathom why those who want to die don’t just kill themselves.
It’s because suicide is forbidden in religion. If you want the fast-track to Heaven you have to be killed by the enemies of your God. There is no other way. If you kill yourself then you go to Hell and its eternal dole queue where you are always late to sign on.
The Westboros do not try for this. They don’t want to be buggered to death even though, according to their beliefs, that would get them a soft, chilled seat at God’s right hand. They want to taunt and hurt people but they do not want to die at their perceived enemy’s hands.
The ISIS and their ilk want exactly that. They don’t want to live. They want to provoke their perceived enemy (who had never heard of them until they started their indiscriminate massacre) into killing them.
Both are at the extremes of their religions but the Westboros are American while ISIS are from the Middle East. As were those first Christians.
The death wish isn’t in the religion. It’s in the people. A whole people just looking for a good reason to die.
That’s really quite a sad thing to consider, isn’t it?