This we know: the dead do not return.

Joyful Easter. Fifty thousand years of accumulated experience by the 70 – 100 billion Humans who have lived on this planet have led us to know at least one thing: the dead don’t return. Accepted practices for disposing the corpse and expressing grief exist in every culture. In some cultures even the almost dead were buried to protect their transitioning spirits from the snares of demons. The whole world in every time and place have known the reality of the final transition.

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The journey to the land of the dead is permanent. Once the living pass over, they are gone forever. The dead do not return. This universal knowledge binds all mankind together at a primal level. This is what we know.

The gospel of Jesus is rooted in an event that defies that which we – the entirety of the human race – have come to know with certainty. The dead are not raised. I love the understated conclusion of Mark’s gospel: “Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.”

What if what we have come to know with certainty is certain no more?
Run, friends. Tremble.

Things are not as they seem.

See you in the Mystic….

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Originally published as “On Death and Resurrection” on March 27, 2005

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12 thoughts on “This we know: the dead do not return.

  1. Yes, 50K years of human experience does bind all mankind with the certainty of death. But why the nagging suspicion that it shouldn’t be that way? Why do people throughout the generations and across tribe and tongue have stories and myths of something that defies their accumulated experience? Why the inner longing for the eternal? Shouldn’t it have been bred out of the species by centuries of death?

    It’s like we intuitively know that something is not right with our experience. Something is not right with the world we know. Another kind of knowledge exists at the periphery of our minds. A kind of knowing that escapes just around the corner of our mental reach. Humanity seems to “know” something other than what our accumulated centuries of experience has proven true.

    Two weeks.

    That’s the length of time that stands in balances to the billions of lifetimes of experience.

    On the 6th day of the first, God made man and gave him his breath. On the 6th day of the second, God became man and gave up his breath.

    Two weeks and two breaths. The one creates our inner longing for eternity and the second makes that longing possible.

    “Things are not as they seem.”

    But they will be.

  2. thanks, gary. there’s a difference here between the dreams, visions, apparitions that clue humanity to the fact that there is something beyond death. most humans “know” this, not in the sense we “know” that the dead do not return, though. the latter tends more towards universal knowledge and the former towards special knowledge. humanity by and large suspects that those who pass away never to return still reside somewhere.

    the resurrection of jesus, however, falls into a third category. the resurrected jesus is not an apparition of someone who resides in the beyond. the resurrection is the actual return from the dead of the man jesus. we know this does not happen. that’s why the women trembled.

    thanks for you input. you’re right: things are not as they seem.

  3. Thank you for your thoughts. I have been reading for a little while and was hoping you could mention a little bit about you and your background.

    Would you fill in some on where were you schooled?
    Also, it has been mentioned that you are an immigrant. When did you come to America? Were you a child at the time?

    These things are not so important, it would just complete a picture of the person with the thoughts.

    Thank you for you efforts.

  4. hey lori. i’ll be in la from the 25th to the 6th. from the 26th through the 3rd, i’ll be working with my imn immersion. during origins and ethos i’ll probably be loitering around –that would be good time to connect. Or…

    i’m gonna take a day to go up and see dean and tina in thousand oaks –probably sat the 5th, but i’m thinking about doing a voxtropolitan “meetup” on sunday the 6th somewhere in pasadena. that might be a good reconnect too. i think there are 5-6 voxtropolitans in the pasadena/ la area.

  5. “Things are not what they seem.”
    Indeed.
    That has always been my motto. I really really believe anything is possible with God.
    I am reading and writing this in the middle of the night, three days after my dear mother unexpctedly left me. And I am not ashamed to admit that I am asking for her to be revived and healed and to come back, in Christ’s name.
    Why should I be ashamed? Didn’t He revive Lazarus? Didn’t He say that nothing is impossible for those who truly believe?
    I truly do believe that. Why, then, should I be ashamed of such “impossible” demands? Wouldn’t it be more shameful to credit Christ / God with the ability to perform only doable “miracles”, of the kind that even we can perform if we apply ourselves?
    I am certainly not “deserving” of such a miracle. But who is?

    However, there is something I wanted to ask – or just share – for ten years now, and never had the chance. When my father died, also unexpectedly, I remember breaking down on the floor in my kitchen, praying to Christ, to God that he’d be brought back to life. I cannot describe to you how bitter my bawling was at the beginning. But I just went on and on, imploring, invoking, asking… At one point, my heart – which had always, to this day (or is it anymore?), remained “childish”, as they say – felt as if it broke open and an immense happiness and gratefulness flooded it. It was the CERTAINTY that my impossible request had been answered. That my father had been brought back to life, like Lazarus. I cannot begin to describe to you what a feeling that is… The GRATEFULNESS!
    I slowly got up on my feet, my face bloated with tears, my heart lit up with the greatest joy on Earth. I was certain – I am telling you, CERTAIN (as I’ve never been certain about anything in my life) – that my father would return, as impossible and shocking as that might be.

    But he didn’t.

    So I am asking you… WHAT was that certainty?
    A cruel joke on part of my own mind? (It has never prone to “jokes” like that. Despite what you might think, after reading the above, I am a HIGHLY – painfully! – rational person. If I ever experienced self-delusion – and I know I have! – it was never EVER in the guise of such an intimate, all-pervading certainty that my small, feeble, imperfect faith was no obtstacle for the Almighty to overlook it and answer to the most “absurd” of all prayers.)

    Yet my father didn’t return. He was – for all we know – cremated and buried.

    I ask you: what WAS that?

    And it’s not really a question. I am not asking anyone – except, perhaps, God – for no human could answer that.
    But it remains a puzzle – a beautiful memory tainted by the sense of TOTAL faith… betrayed.

    What WAS that…?

  6. Just an afterthought:

    Is ANYONE, in this great universe, even listening to my little voice – hearing my childish, silly and definitely “undeserving” pleading…?

    (I don’t mean people – you know that.)

    Why would Christ / God answer MY impossible prayer, even if it is for a dear, wonderful, bright soul which is my mother’s?

    Why would he NOT?

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