Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust, and Life is a Limited Time Offer

dead kid on horse

I’m not sure which one(s) is (are) dead in the pic, but I’m pretty sure they all are by now.

It’s Ash Wednesday again- a day to reflect on personal mortality and the myriad imperfections of humanity, so here I am trotting out the postmortem pics collection.  As macabre as it is, I know I’m not the only one who is fascinated with Victorian era postmortem photography.  As for the kid in the above pic, he looks like he’s seen a ghost.  Mom and Dad look pretty much comatose, which is why I can’t tell for sure who’s dead and who’s not.  I’m pretty sure I would have the same expression on my face as the kid if I were required to sit that close to dead people, so that’s another reason why I wonder if the kid, the parents, just one or the other parent, or all three were dead when this pic was taken.   The reality is, now anyway, that they are all dead, unless the kid is 120 or something. Physical death is a 100% probability- it’s going to happen- and it’s just a question of when. 

I could even get into a little Southern Baptist soteriology (even though it’s a bit odd because SB’s don’t observe Ash Wednesday) right about now too.  Turn or burn, baby.  You are gonna be worm food, so now’s your time to Get Right with the Lawd-uh!


Somehow seeking salvation from a dog and pony show like this seems about as effective as taking driving lessons from Ted Kennedy.

I do like her wig though.  If only it were black.

I have had a rather cynical relationship with organized religion through the years.  When I decided to read the Catechism of the Catholic Church (which many self-proclaimed Catholics have not) I learned that if I am to be intellectually honest with myself and with God there is no way I can claim to be Roman Catholic.   There is some Weird Stuff in there.  I almost joined an SB church because their theology tends to be very black and white.  Saved/not saved, sin/not sin, and so on.  You can know if you’re IN or OUT.  I love the Baptist emphasis on Bible study too- but- for me the big problem with Baptists in general is that they tend to put too much on human free will- such as we “choose” to believe.  I’m here to say that I firmly believe it’s God doing the choosing, and I don’t claim to understand that.

I discovered confessional Lutheranism when I was in college, and of all the interpretations and expressions of Christianity, to me it makes the most sense.  Lutheranism- in its classic sense, is not perfect, but it allows for the grey areas, and allows for intellectual honesty and questions.  There is space for the mystery that is God.  There is understanding for my lack of ability to comprehend.

dead kid with angels

I have a hard time understanding why you would take pics of a dead kid surrounded by paper angels, but it was a different time.

I wish I could believe spiritual things as black and white (and there are some things that are) but I find myself asking way too many questions- questions where I simply have to accept the mystery and be okay that the answer is either something I don’t know or can’t understand.

I’m glad that I’m not the one who makes the vast decisions of the cosmos.  I’m doing good to decide what to wear or what to eat, and grateful to have both clothes and food.

Saints in stained-glass

I’m pretty sure no one is going to want to memorialize me in stained glass.

I have more questions than answers and more failures than successes, but I have to believe there is some reason why I am sucking up valuable oxygen for the time being, whether I get it or not.

(Jesus said:) “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal;  but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21 (NRSV)

Today’s questions would be, “Where is my treasure?  Where is my heart?”

I really have to think about both of those questions today.

2 thoughts on “Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust, and Life is a Limited Time Offer

  1. “Soteriology.” I learned a new word.
    I was raised Baptist (Northern), and while it’s a bit tight-assed, there is much that is beautiful and loving in the faith.

    When I was younger, I used to date a chick who’s housekeeper had formerly worked for the TBN lady with the big blond hair in the picture. Apparently, the housekeeper (whose English was limited) called her “the Cloud Lady” because EVERYTHING in her house was white.

    • My son always tells his friends, “If Mom doesn’t do anything else for you, she will expand your vocabulary.” That’s what hyperlexia and incessant reading will get you. Soteriology is a subject that has fascinated me ever since I went to a Pentecostal Bible school with a friend and learned that whole terrifying (and not necessarily Biblical) doctrine of the Rapture. I think I spent three years of my life afraid I’d be Left Behind because with my luck I’d be on the toilet (and therefore partially naked, and we all know nudity is Sinful…) when the Rapture came about. Kids are weird. I think for my own sanity (not to mention more accurate scholarship) I have to take apocalyptic literature for what it is and not try to somehow make it be literal. I can’t control or stop the end of the world anyway, so why get all worked up about it?

      I am a bit of a closet theologian, if only because I try to answer my own questions and quiet my own doubts that surround my faith. We are supposed to seek, knock and ask. I think the best course I’ve taken so far, is to just keep on seeking, knocking and asking, but with the understanding that I don’t understand, and that in the end all I can do is embrace the mystery.

      My soteriological leanings are closest to Molinism – which pretty much, in a nutshell, says, “God is God and He is everywhere in every time- and I am not.” The concept of a completely sovereign God is a bit overwhelming, but comforting at the same time, if you don’t get mired in all the metaphysical implications and so forth.

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