My good friend Dominic Zoffranieri died February 27, 2016. Wow! It’s been a whole year. I was hoping to hear from him after he died. Dominic loved telling jokes. I was hoping he would appear to me and tell me a joke. Nothing so far. I have had dreams about him, but they were only dreams.
Does Dominic not appearing to me make me doubt whether we go on after we die? No, I still believe in an afterlife, and the afterlife consists mainly of shopping at Walmart. Perhaps Dominic is still busy buying stuff to stop to tell me a joke. There are lots of great bargains at that Walmart in the sky.
“Dominic, buddy, I miss you. It’s been a year since you moved away. I still think about you and the times we had. I don’t remember us having any bad times. They were all good. Feel free to stop by anytime so we can catch up. I’d love to hear you tell me a joke or two. Cheers!”
My good friends Kurt Vonnegut and Jonathan Winters died on April 11. Kurt died in 2007, and Jonathan six years later in 2013. Both were born on November 11. Kurt was born in 1922, and Jonathan in 1925.
If you add the three years difference in their births and the six years difference in their deaths, then you get nine. (3 + 6 = 9) I have no idea what this means, but it may have something to do with cats.
I spoke to Kurt and Jonathan today, the anniversary of their deaths.
“I never believed in the afterlife when I had a body,” said Kurt. “I am at a loss to explain why I still exist after I left my body. Perhaps it’s all an illusion caused by sunspots.”
“The afterlife confirmed my belief that The Creator has nothing to do with religion,” said Jonathan. “Religion is full of judgment and condemnation. Eternity is full of Love.”
“Do you have some words to inspire me while I fart around here on Earth?” I asked.
“The arts are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practising an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake.” said Kurt.
“Remember Gary,” said Jonathan, “I couldn’t wait for success, so I went ahead without it.”
For sure Dominic knows what happens after the body dies. It’s been a week since he let his body go. Yesterday (March 4) was his funeral.
The priest killed the joyful mood at Dominic’s funeral by reading passages from The Bible. After he finished reading these passages he said, “May God’s words comfort you.” I was not comforted. I had tuned out waiting for the reading to end. I imagined Dominic had tuned out, too. Now free of his sick, failing body, Domenic continued to bask in the Unconditional Love permeating the Universe. What comfort did he need from The Bible?
How comforting when Dominic’s nephew Michael got up and spoke about his uncle. Michael spoke words from his heart, and his words went to my heart. The same thing happened when Dominic’s friend Garry got up to speak. Garry’s words went from his heart to my heart.
I cried during these heartfelt eulogies, but my tears soothed me. I laughed, too, when Michael and Garry said funny things. I’m sure Dominic approved of the laughter.
People applauded after Michael and Garry spoke. No one applauded after hearing passages from The Bible.
By the way, Dominic never believed in an afterlife. I bet he does now.
How fascinating that some of us will believe what we want to believe no matter what facts stare us in the face. We find ways to justify beliefs we want to keep.
A friend of mine is a stanch conservative. Let’s call him Kenny, Kenny Conservative.
According to Kenny, conservatives can do no wrong. Recently I mentioned how U.S. President George Bush lied about Saddam Hussein having weapons of mass destruction. Kenny said that I was wrong because Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. I said that they never found the weapons of mass destruction, and Bush had lied to justify invading Iraq.
“Just because they never found them doesn’t mean that Hussein never had them,” said Kenny. “Bush never lied. The liberal media twisted the facts.”
I could not believe what I heard, but Kenny was serious.
In Kenny’s world, there are no grays or uncertainties. Things are either black or white, good or bad, right or wrong. Conservatives are always right and good; liberals are always wrong and bad.
Kenny worships Rush Limbaugh. If Rush Limbaugh said that the moon was made of red cheese, then Kenny would believe that the moon is made of red cheese. Any scientific proof showing otherwise would be “a plot by the liberal media to discredit Rush Limbaugh.”
Another example of Kenny’s rational thinking concerns God and afterlife. Kenny says that there is no God or afterlife. During one of our discussions, I asked Kenny, “What if a scientist produced scientific proof of God and an afterlife? Would you accept this scientific proof?”
“No,” said Kenny.
“Because,” said Kenny, “the scientist would be wrong.”
“How is he wrong if he produces scientific proof?”
“The scientist is wrong because there is no God or afterlife, and the scientist cannot prove what does not exist.”
Kenny makes me ask, “Do I twist truth to fit my beliefs?” I probably do. But unlike Kenny, I am not afraid of uncertainty or life’s gray areas.
Although he would never admit it, Kenny trembles with fear behind his rigid beliefs.